Parade Playlist :: One Mom’s Mardi Gras Soundtrack

The soundtrack of every parade is a harmony of drumlines, metal barricades grating against each other, piercing sirens, screams for beads and the tapping of marching band boots on pavement. It sounds like Popeye’s fried chicken tastes and is as satisfying as the sleep of exhausted children in their wagons being pulled back towards the car.

But what about the long stretch of time before the parade begins? That’s when a Mardi Gras playlist can take the wait from fine to fun.

My preferred playlists mix Carnival classics with songs that make me want to dance. Toss in some wedding reception favorites, Lizzo and a nod or two to the Saints, and you’ve got yourself a few hours of enjoyable people watching and time spent catching up with neighbors and friends. A little music may even help when your kid asks you for the hundredth (okay, thousandth) time when the parade will arrive.

Carnival Classics:

Rebirth Brass Band – Do Whatcha Wanna
Rebirth Brass Band – Feel Like Funkin’ it Up
The Dixie Cups – Iko Iko
Bo Dollis, Jr. and The Wild Magnolias – Carnival Time
Professor Longhair – Big Chief
The Meters – Mardi Gras Mambo
The Meters – Hey Pocky A-way
Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. – They All Asked for You
Jill Monroe and Mardi Gras Big Shots – Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Kermit Ruffins – Mardi Gras Day

Line Dances:

V.I.C. – Wobble Baby
Cupid – Cupid Shuffle
Lil Nas X (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus) – Old Town Road

NOLA and Zydeco Inspiration:

Juvenile – Back that Azz up
Choppa – Choppa Style
Haterz- Keith Frank
Olympia Brass Band – Who Dat?
Big Tymers – Still Fly
D.J. Jubilee – Get Ready, Ready
Sugar Bee – Wayne Toups
Big Freedia (feat. Lizzo) – Karaoke
Rufus Jaganeaux – Opelousas Sostan

Wedding Reception Must-Haves:

The Village People – YMCA
Neil Diamond – Sweet Caroline
K.C. and the Sunshine Band – Boogie Shoes
Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’


Shakira – Whenever, Wherever
Lizzo – Good as Hell
Mark Ronson (feat. Bruno Mars) – Uptown Funk
Pitbull feat. John Ryan – Fireball
Salt N Peppa – Push It
Michael Jackson – PYT
Outkast – Hey Ya
Pharrell Williams – Happy
Miami Sound Machine – Conga

Author’s Note: Consider whether you’ll be celebrating kid-free or with your family and make decisions you feel comfortable with so far as explicit language is concerned while being respectful to your neighbors on the route.

Katie M
Katie is a towboater’s wife and devoted mother to son, Olie (2015). She's lived across the Southeast and has been a proud, Mardi Gras-loving resident of New Orleans since 2008. Though she recently transitioned to the Communications Director role at her school, she is and will always be an educator at heart and a fierce advocate for gifted learners. Football season is her favorite time of year; she bleeds red and black for the Georgia Bulldogs and can be found cheering loudly with her fellow Who Dats in the Superdome. She enjoys making to-do lists, drinking too much iced coffee, and beating the guys in fantasy football.


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