Eighth grade for a boy in America is a transition year. Puberty, the anticipation of high school, and a thought that maybe this is the year you get to second base with that girl who sits next to you in Earth Science (and also just got her braces off). The year is 2005, and I’m still under the belief that I’m going to play college basketball. I made the eighth grade A-team for Christ’s sake. Once I hit that growth spurt, I’ll be fielding calls from all over the country for my services as a point guard/power forward. I have spiked, bleach blonde bangs, and my favorite song out right now is “Hate It or Love It,” the debut single from The Game featuring 50 Cent. It’s a banger, for sure, but it’s not middle school dance party appropriate.
A middle school dance requires three things: Tasty tunes, girls in Hollister jean skirts, and either a cafeteria converted into a dance floor, or, the more preferable option, a dark basement at a friend’s house where the parents are chill enough to leave everybody alone. Here are my top 10 songs to play at a middle school dance, if it was 2005, and I was still a 14-year old virgin.
10. Hey Ya – Outkast
When “Hey Ya” came out, people were used to hearing Andre Three Stacks and Big Boi rap about the struggle and trapping in Atlanta. “Hey Ya” was a bubblegum pop song that catapulted Outkast into superstardom. It also happens to be very catchy, so if it came on during the dance, chances were you and your boys were standing around in a circle laughing, ripping Cokes, and staring in the general direction of the group of girls who kept staring at your crew from a safe 10-15 feet away.
9. Headsprung – LL Cool J
Jesus Christ. When this song came out I can remember watching the music video debut on MTV Jams. MTV Jams, by the way, was a staple of my early teens. No joke, me and my friends would sit around for hours just watching fucking music videos. So, so, lame looking back on it. But I digress. I had always known LL Cool J as an actor. He was in SWAT with Colin Farrell, so when Headsprung dropped, I just thought he was trying to be another Will Smith hybrid. You can’t really expect a white kid from the suburbs to know that LL Cool J was a very accomplished rapper. This is a song that got played and usually left a lot of people out. The guys with girlfriends got to go grind, but the rest of us were stuck with our dick in our hand, too scared to go ask one of the single girls if she wanted to dance. There’s a good shot I’d just take a pee break during this one.
8. Slow Jamz – Kanye West featuring Twista and Jamie Foxx
“A little Anita, will definitely set this party off right” Goddamn. Another classic. Everyone knew the words to this backwards and forwards. The Twista part was difficult, but we got through it. This was a song that brought everyone, girls and boys, together into a circle. Just standing around, a massive pack of burb kids, rapping in unison about fucking mad bitches and smoking the finest indo.
7. Grind With Me – Pretty Ricky
The title of the song says it all. If you couldn’t find a girl to dance with when this one came on it was your own fault. This was a song that would end, and then you’d go running up to your boys at the dance and be like “Dude, she just touched my dick. I’m definitely in.” No, no you’re not. Ah, adolescence. Such a great time.
6. Freek-A-Leek – Petey Pablo
This song came out when I was in seventh grade, but it was so good that people were still bumping it a year later. Just a nasty song about chicks named Rodesha and Katawna doing every sex position imaginable. I’m guessing Petey Pablo did not have me and my squad of pale suburbanites in mind when he wrote this one.
5. Drop It Like It’s Hot – Snoop Dogg featuring Pharell
This was another song that would bring folks together. Everyone knew the lyrics (“Eligible bachelor, million-dollar boat, that’s whiter than what’s spilling down your throat”) and had no idea what the meaning was. I’m not even sure if this is true or not, but I feel like this was the resurgence of Snoop Dogg. I feel like he was a forgotten has-been from the 90s, a la LL Cool J. Doggystyle was a classic album, but no one in 2005 was listening to that.
4. Dilemma – Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland
Ohhhhh my God! Death, taxes, and Nelly releasing a single once a month from like 2001-2008. The King of Early 2000s rap music, and this single didn’t disappoint. I remember vividly sitting in a corner of a school dance housing pizza when this song came on, and this one girl (who was dating a sophomore in high school at the time) did a very amateur pole dance. Boners everywhere. It’s a slow burner, but it’s one that everyone can groove to. It’s also a song that you could play this Friday and no one would blink an eye.
3. Sandstorm – Darude
I’m not entirely sure when this song was released. High energy, nonetheless. I do know that every dance I ever went to in middle school and high school played this at least once. An all out mosh pit occurred every time without fail. Pushing, shoving, jumping, and screaming. The girls usually sat this song out, but it’s high on this list because it was always a fun time when it got played.
2. Yeah! – Usher
No early 2000s dance list is complete without Usher’s smash hit “Yeah!” This was before it was ruined by that piece of shit movie Hitch, wherein you had that piece of shit Kevin James making a goddamn mockery of the song. Ludacris had one of the greatest verses of all time – “We want a lady in the streets, but a freak in the bed.” People still quote that shit in 2016. Also, if you weren’t doing the thunderclap followed by the rockaway, then you weren’t doing it right.
1. My Humps – The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas were blowing up in a big way when My Humps came out. Fergie was still a smoke, and I don’t think Will.I.Am was totally insane yet. He might have been; I’m not really sure. 2004 was a long time ago. But it’s not an exaggeration to say that when this came on guys would literally run around the dance floor trying to find a girl to grind with. Compression shorts to hide that massive erection you had and 4 minutes of pure bliss, hopefully with that chick from Earth Science. .