The most popular prom songs: then and now

Slow-dancing at the Hollywood High School prom in 1979. What do you think was playing? (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
Slow-dancing at the Hollywood High School prom in 1979. What do you think was playing? (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

"Stairway to Heaven". "Wonderful Tonight". "Lady in Red". Before they were soft-rock radio staples, they were prom themes.
Not anymore. The prom theme song has evolved with the billboard charts. Now it's "F*** you (forget you)", "We R Who We R" and "On the Floor".

"It's all top 40 songs now, dance songs and hip-hop," says Nick, a deejay at Awesome Club Prom who's working 8 proms in New York and New Jersey this weekend. Over the past few years he's seen the dissolution of prom themes and royal courts, and the rise of the club prom. Lots of glow sticks, fist-pumping and virtually no slow-dancing. "People just want to dance and have a good time now," he says. Awesome Club Prom charges up to $5000 to show up with a playlist, a series of props and a few flat-screen projectors. It's hardly "Enchantment Under the Sea."

Instead the music is fast-paced and no older than a year. On Facebook, high school prom committees have set up suggestion boards for playlists. Most read like billboard charts: Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Lil Wayne. An list of this year's top prom themes backs up the top 40 claim, naming "Don't You Wanna Stay" by Jason Aldean and "Rhythm of Love" by Plain White Tees in it's top 10. Long Island Proms, an multi-service prom website, put this year's top prom song to a vote, with "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars (not Billy Joel) coming out on top.

There used to be a time when classic rock didn't seem like it would ever be out fashion at prom, but retro has new meaning these days. One Facebook prom page, suggested retro hits that went only as far back as "Time of Your Life" by Green Day. Another called out a list of '90s hip-hop like the Humpty Dance and Bel Biv Devoe's (very awesome song) "Poison". But nowhere is the perennial make-out song "Stairway to Heaven."

It may be because slow-dancing has fallen out of favor in the face of fast, pulsing club music. But one '80s prom favorite still stands the test of time. Beyond all the top 40 hits, Awesome Club Prom deejays still get the same oldies request year after year: "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. Out of all the prom songs from years past, it's the only one that still goes on and on and on.

6 celebrity prom looks for less
9 prom dances in movies
5 mom-approved prom dresses