This post ran originally on THUMP UK. Your evening had been going so well until now. Your trainers were still clean, you hadn't said anything stupid to anyone you didn't know, and your bottle of cheap, dark rum was still exactly where you left it – in the washing machine, obviously. You were floating from room to room like a hummingbird, kitchen chats, corridor chats, weird bit between front door and bottom of the stairs chats, all pulled off with the erudite finesse of Michael Parkinson, three bumps deep.
Now you've found yourself in the living room. Worse, you've found yourself beside the speakers. Worse again, you've found yourself clutching an aux cable, looking down at it like a dead snake barely twitching in your palm. Your hand is hovering over the keyboard; Spotify, Soundcloud, Youtube, they're all there but your head isn't. Sweat begins to squeeze its way out of every pore like threads of oily toothpaste. You search the back catalogue of your brain, but nothing comes forward. No, not Drake, not fucking Drake, why is it always Drake? Think of something else. You like music! You're a person who likes music! When you're on your own, sat at your desk or lying on your bed you listen to great music! You even read about music on the internet! Come on!
Yet now you're drawing a blank. Everyone in this room is looking at you and you've forgotten every piece of music you've ever loved.
When this happens, some people crumble. They crumble and in doing so do something stupid like put on "Gold Digger"—cos everyone loves "Gold Digger" right?—or they accept defeat and pass the aux onto somebody else, a gesture that essentially says: I'm not an interesting enough person to think of even one piece of music. My head is, quite literally, blank.
Sensible people, in this situation, however, will have a back-up. One song, or mix, that they know whatever happens, whenever they get handed the aux, they can put on and save the party. In order to get a healthy list of aux cable back-ups, we asked a bunch of writers to tell us their standby house party saviors. Read, listen, learn, and then this Saturday, when some louche dickhead in a Harrington jacket says "you want to put something on mate?" you can confidently tear the cable from his hands, and flood the living room with any number of these foolproof choices.
Kornél Kovács - Szikra
"Roll that bone, and spark that blunt. Let's get fucked up." Few times in the history of party-starting party tracks has there been a better instructional-manual-cum-house track to get your party started. Open a window, turn on the fan, and follow the simply laid out set of direction courtesy of Sweden's latest house prince (hint: it's not Avicii). You're welcome.
–David Garber (THUMP US, Associate Editor)
Master Force - Don't Fight the Feeling
There was a period, a few years back now, when I went to a lot of house parties, and at those house parties I'd always decide that I was the person in the room who had the best taste in music and because I'd decided that I had the best taste in the room, I'd spend most of my nights hovering by the laptop, my blue bag of cans getting lighter and lighter as my understanding of social conventions got duller and duller. Eventually, after what felt like hours, I'd slide up to the keyboard and I'd look like I was thinking for a second or two, and I'd head to YouTube and haphazardly type something like "Dnt fight the feling mastre force" and give it a click and the tune would come on and I'd expect—I'd always expect—a group of disinterested art students to put their fags away and congregate around me, arms aloft, prosecco corks raining down, lost in their own personal Paradise Garages. It never happened. No one ever cared. So I'd slink off, blue bag in hand as "In Da Club" hovered into view.
And you know what? I'd do it all over again.
– Josh Baines (THUMP UK, Editor)
There Must Be An Angel - Eurythmics
Nothing brings people together more than singing in falsetto and sax solos.
–Sam Wolfson (VICE UK, Executive Editor)
Dixon and Âme - Boiler Room
It's 4 AM and you've come to a fork in the road. Energy levels are dwindling and if someone doesn't inject a second wind into your deflated balloon of a house party, it's all about to go Pete Tong—literally and figuratively. The impulse is queue up a banger. But I'm here to tell you that's a schoolboy error. What you need in these situations is something nourishing, sustaining and—most crucially—really fucking long. You need to envelope your flailing guests in the warm embrace of Dixon and Ame's four hour Boiler Room set. You're welcome.
–Anna Codrea-Rado (THUMP US, News Editor)
Jackmaster - Tweak-A-Holic #3
Tweak-A-Holic #3 is more than just a life-line. It is my church, it is my safe-space. As soon as I hear the soft, blushing chords of Toto's "Georgy Porgy" blossoming into being, I know everything is going to be okay. The magical thing about this mix is how well it does bangers. Every tune is instantly recognisable and universally adored, yet none of them sound obvious or boring. It's as though the mix is comprised of every banger you'd never quite think to play, for some reason. It's also peak Jackmaster. He's probably the best party DJ this country has ever produced, and the blends on this are absolutely seamless. Actually to the point where now if I hear any of the tracks in isolation, I reflexively expect the rest of the mix to follow. I can honestly promise, if you put this mix on, you will not only save the party, you will lift it to a higher place.
–Angus Harrison (THUMP UK, Staff Writer)
Grateful Dead - Live in Tampa, Florida (12/19/73)
When an 1/8" cable is pressed into my palm, I'm often overcome not with anxiety, but God delusions—the idea that the whole room is captive to my whims, however ill-advised and inappropriate for the assembled crew of friends or people that I sort of tolerate after a few drinks. Often that means blistering a Bluetooth speaker with something punishing—say the chattery, crowd-dispersing chaos of Wolf Eyes' "Stabbed in the Face"—especially when the responsibility has been unwillingly foisted upon me. But my favorite aux cable gambit is to quietly slide on the Dicks Picks recording of Grateful Dead's 12/19/73 show in Tampa, Florida and try to play the whole thing before anyone notices and complains. In some settings this goes over well, in others people beg to listen to like 21 Savage or something, but either way you better believe we're making it through these last 10 minutes of "Playing in the Band"—and then we're listening to the second disc. I'm very fun at parties. RIP Jerry.
–Colin Joyce (THUMP US, Managing Editor)
Crawling - Linkin Park
I recently broke my mantra of "never be that music editor who secretly just wants to be a famous DJ" and played a gig at a local club. Gripped in the terror of trainwrecking or worse, I spent endless nights stressing out over choosing the right spread of tracks that would "slay the dancefloor" while standing up to the heads. But all that prep was fucking pointless. On that night, and every night I've played it since, this was the track that made everyone lose their minds. In the end, it doesn't even matter.
–Michelle Lhooq (THUMP US, Features Editor)
Butterfly - Crazy Town
"Butterfly", the third—yes, third—single from Crazy Town's debut album The Gift of Game, is a terrible, terrible song. Like, Donald Trump and Billy Bush's private bus banter levels of appalling. As far as I can tell, it's about an ex-con willing a woman to orgasm while doing nothing to help the cause. Its main lyric rhymes "lady" with "crazy" and the video looks like it was made by the kind of person who keeps a folder of blotter art on their desktop. The only redeemable bit is the guitar riff, which is a Red Hot Chili Peppers sample. However, if you were in high school between the years 2000 and 2002, you will have observed the power of "Butterfly" by Crazy Town to provoke literally every social pocket to drop what they're doing and shout "come!" at each other a lot before returning once more to their corners. It is magical.
Nothing unites a room like a true stinker that carries with it both throwback value and the curse of being extremely danceable. If you want hard evidence: "Butterfly" has upwards of 38 million views on YouTube and I'm estimating at least 72% of them are due to assholes like me panic-typing it in at a house party. It has to be that, because it is the only bad song John Frusciante has ever been associated with besides "Stone Cold Bush".
–Emma Garland (Noisey UK, Assistant Editor)
Everyone who contributed to this article is on Twitter.