The Worst Songs to Play During a Father-Daughter Wedding Dance

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Just as guests patiently endure long church weddings between atheists who are appeasing their religious bill-footing parents in order to get to the real fun at the reception, so too have we endured a terrible-ass spring to arrive where we are now, at fun-ass wedding season. And, as such, to the perennial awkwardness of the father-daughter dance.


The Father-Daughter wedding dance (or "Daddy-Daughter" for the purity ball set) at its core represents a handing off of responsibility ("vagina") of a woman from one man (a dad) to another (a husband). Sure, you can argue that your specific wedding,it was just a way for you and your dad to goof around in front of everyone with coordinated sunglasses and Macarena-ing and that your husband is so feminist that he empathy-menstruates with you every month, but none of that changes the fact that wedding ceremonies, historically speaking, have represented something that today most people with internet connections would consider ultra creepy. I'm not arguing that anyone should stop having weddings, or stop dancing with their dad to Edelweiss and make everyone in the whole ballroom cry — first of all, I'm too tired to care that hard about what the fuck people do with their weddings, and secondly, the older the tradition, the more likely it comes from something our ancestors did or believed in the past that would be viewed as socially unacceptable today. So carry on with your Daddy-Daughter Dancing. Or don't.

Most songs are wildly inappropriate for a Father-Daughter dance; when I asked my coworker Madeleine what song she thought was the least appropriate, she suggested "Too Close," that 90's R&B song about a dude getting a boner on the dance floor that contains the lyric "I feel a little poke comin' throoooough. On yoooouuu." But because of its creepy origins, Father-Daughter dance is an especially tricky thing to pull off without weirding all of the guests out (a quick google for "father daughter dance creepy" reveals 16 million results); any songs that could possibly be construed as expressing romantic or sexual love will probably be received with uncomfortable sidelong glances rather than approving applause. At the same time, songs that have nothing to do with love or affection don't quite do it, either. The ideal father-daughter dance song would be significant to the bride and her father and convey to the audience a relationship between a parent and child without crossing the line.

With that in mind, here are the songs that come tantalizingly close to actually being perfect for a father-daughter dance before overshooting perfect and landing far, far, far in the hinterlands of WhatTheFuckistan. Of course, if you wanted to really own it, a daring bride could play all of these just to scare her guests into leaving before they wheel the cake out.

John Mayer- Daughters

Fathers, be good to your daughters so that they can one day grow up well adjusted enough to get the clap from John Mayer.

Aphex Twin- Come to Daddy

Pros: It contains the word "Daddy" in the title. Cons: The opening lyrics are "I WANT YOUR SOUL" and the video made me afraid to turn on MTV for like 3 weeks when I was a kid. (Remember MTV, guys?!)


Butterfly Kisses

This song is theoretically about a father's sweet affection for his daughter, but goddamn does it lay it on too thick. If my dad told me this song reminded him of me, I'd patiently explain to my dad that I only like him as a friend.

PS: There's nothing funnier than chest-clutchy lyrics where dads claim that babies were sent from heaven, rather than from the human reproductive system. In a way, a part of all of us came from our dads' ballsacks.


George Michael- Father Figure

Look: this is an amazing song.

This is a weird, amazing song that was #1 on US charts in 1988 (can you imagine a song about this being number one in the age of blogs? I cannot). And it walks the line of maybe appropriate for a little bit... until George Michael talks about being warm and naked next to his "lover." And he really sends it home when he sings about love being mistaken "for a crime."


Red Sovine- Daddy's Girl

My dad, a troll long before the internet existed, used to troll me with this song by playing it very loudly and lip syncing along with Red Sovine and as a child it drove me fucking bananas. Great way for your dad to advertise to your loved ones that he kinda wanted a boy, even on the day of your wedding.

Something tells me that if I ever break my anti-wedding reception vow, my father will figure out a way to play this just to mess with me. And, to be honest, I'd probably laugh pretty hard.


Julie London- My Heart Belongs to Daddy

The Marilyn Monroe version of this song is also bubbly, cloying, and creepy. Like fizzy, piping hot cotton candy.


Rodney Atkins - Cleanin' This Gun (Come On In Boy)

The first two lines attempt to rhyme "Declaration of Independence" and "sentence," so you know it's gonna be good.

The rest of the song is about a father of a teenage girl threatening to shoot his daughter's boyfriend, and then being afraid that teen boys who want to date his own daughter will also need a similarly stern gun-waving to keep the in line.

Come on in boy, sit on down
And tell me 'bout yourself
So you like my daughter, do you now
Yeah we think she's something else
She's her daddy's girl and her mama's world
She deserves respect, that's what she'll get, ain't it son
Now y'all run along and have some fun
I'll see you when you get back
Bet I'll be up all night
Still cleaning this gun


Yes, tuxedo pants will be heartily shat with this one.

Golden Earrings - Daddy Buy Me A Girl

I have no idea what this song's lyrics even mean. It sounds like an upbeat little ditty about human trafficking.


Lil Wayne - Stuntin' Like My Daddy

V tough to waltz or even swing dance to tbh.

Chuck Wicks- Stealing Cinderella

I do appreciate how this song painstakingly restores antique attitudes and presents them in a clear twangy glass display case.

But I can't get over the flawed parallel that is central to this song's entire thesis: in the fairy tale, Cinderella's dad is dead. So unless the father in the song is an IRL ghost, it doesn't even make sense.


Harry Chapin- Cats in the Cradle

A great Father-Daughter dance selection if you hate your dad and want to do a dance about it.


Fleetwood Mac- Oh Daddy

Here's the last verse:

Oh Daddy,
If I can make you see,
If there's been a fool around,
It's got to be me.
Why are you right when I'm so wrong,
I'm so weak but you're so strong,
Everything you do is just alright,
And I can't walk away from you, baby
If I tried.


Seems like there's a little too much going on here to parse in a single dance.

Heartland- I Loved Her First

The Jealous Country Dad is an entire subgenre of creepy Father-Daughter Dance songs., but this one, along with "Butterfly Kisses," really sets the gold standard.

I was enough for her not long ago
I was her number one
She told me so
And she still means the world to me
Just so you know
So be careful when you hold my girl
Time changes everything
Life must go on
And I'm not gonna stand in your way

But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she'd find you someday
But it still hard to give her away
I loved her first

The fact that Ray J basically wrote this exact same chorus about Kim Kardashian is squicky enough, but what I find truly offensive here is this song's shameless Daddy Daughter Dance pandering. We get it. You want wedding DJ royalties. Have some self-respect.



So on the flip side, what are some of the best ones (sweet/classic and/or clever)?

I went classic, with My Girl. Good tempo, benign message, short, and a favorite of my dad's.