You can host the Labor Day perfect party, the perfect picnic, the perfect BBQ, but it’s all irrelevant without a jamming playlist. Eating some grub, drinking a beer, partaking in a holiday toke are all good fun, but they’re temporary joys. The music should never stop.
Depending on your crowd and type of event, your music choices might skew more old-school or only include hip-hop. I get it: You play to your audience. But any playlist, regardless of situation, should include the below jams on Labor Day. You won’t regret it.
Beyoncé ft. Andre 3000, “Party”
It might seem wild in Lemonade-era Bey, but her love anthems remain untouchable. This song’s a no-brainer: It’s literally called “Party.” Beyoncé sings that big hook as if she’s releasing a flock of doves from those vocal chords. Three Stacks delivers a classic verse and includes Kanye rapping “We got the swag sauce, she dripping swagu.”
Jay Z ft. UGK, “Big Pimpin’”
When assembling a playlist recently, a friend accused me of trying to include “Big Pimpin’” at every party and event I attend. This is not false. That combination of pan flute and horns bounces hips and floats souls. There is also never a time when hearing Bun B spit “Go read a book, you illiterate son of a bitch” doesn’t inject heroin strains of joy into my being. It is as perfect of a song that could exist. And don’t get me started on that majestic, opulent unicorn of a music video.
Nelly, “Hot in Herre”
Be careful when unleashing this song’s intoxicating power. Your party can turn hot and steamy on a dime, which could be inappropriate when Auntie Jean’s unwrapping the saran from the potato salad.
Zac Brown Band, “Chicken Fried”
Never forget the classics. Your goal isn’t to impress everyone with your refined musical palette, you are there to entertain. Let this record spin, and watch as those who just met become best friends singing that oh-so-catchy chorus.
Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg, “California Gurls”
We as a nation don’t appreciate Katy Perry enough. This bubble-gum pop record is a classic example: It’s a well-crafted jam that appeals to virtually every kind of music fan save the pretentious fools who loathe anything mainstream. It bangs, it’s fun, it lets your worries slip away for a while. KP deserves our collective love.
Vampire Weekend, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”
The guitar lick that both anchors and buoys this jam sounds like a family picnic. A wonderful head-bopping record while you’re downing deviled eggs and over-broiled burgers.
Sublime, “What I Got”
Of course I’m biased when it comes to Sublime: I grew up in a beachtown. Sublime is feel-good beach life vibrations personified. You want those vibrations during Labor Day. You need those vibrations during Labor Day. Don’t question it.
Rihanna ft. Jay Z, “Umbrella”
Pick a Rihanna song. Any Rihanna song. Congratulations: You picked a perfect summer jam, a perfect BBQ playlist song. But if we must choose only one, this would be the record. It also doubles as a cheeky if rain ruins your day and instead of commiserating, hearing Rihanna sing “Under my ahm-ber-ella” will make everyone forget water ever fell from the sky at all.
DJ Khaled ft. Drake, “For Free”
Drake isn’t on Rihanna’s level: You can’t pick any Drake song and it work. But you can pick most of them! Any of those dancehall records from VIEWS will inspire your white friends to attempt their worst salsa impression and it will be funny.
Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the U.S.A.”
Did you hear? Congress recently passed a law mandating this song play at every Labor Day weekend party across the nation from now until eternity? Crazy, I know. It makes sense, though: The Boss made a perfect song. It hides socially critical verses with a seemingly jingoistic chorus you can’t help but join Bruuuuce in belting out.