Thursday, October 22, 2009

Everybody, KARAOKE!

Last night, I attended the birthday party for one of my favorite people in the whole world, Rich Moen!  We decided to spend the evening singing Karaoke tunes and let me tell you...we had a blast! 

Once the singers started performing, and the drinks started flowing, everyone turned into a rockstar!  HAHA!

I am a big fan of karaoke.  I like doing a type of activity that allows people to let their guard down and just be silly!  It's SO much better than just going to a bar and standing around...

For a ham like me, getting up to sing a little ditty is something I am very comfortable with and need no coaxing.  HAHA!  But I realize that for others, it's not so easy...worrying about what others will think of them.  Will they look foolish?  Will people laugh at them?  Will they pick the wrong song?

As Randy Jackson & Paula Abdul like to say...Song choice is a BIG factor!

Well...Below is a Guide that i think you will find to be pretty much spot on! So, whether you are a rookie karaoke-er, or a seasoned veteran, this list can maximize your karaoke impact!  :)


1) The cherished (80s) rock songs - I stuck 80s in there because there are so many good ones from that era. Bon Jovi, Guns n' Roses (though be careful with GnR cause some of their songs are LOOONG), and hair bands like Poison or Def Leppard are great karaoke fun. Who doesn't like to hear "Pour Some Sugar on Me" in a bar? These work so well because we hardly hear these songs anywhere else these days.

2) The silly, yet fun pop songs - These work well because they're songs people secretly enjoy--and you might be surprised what people secretly enjoy. "Living La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin is one that the crowd actually really enjoys. Other good ones are Ace of Base "The Sign," Spice Girls "Wannabe," George Michael "Faith," "Lady Marmalade" (for true singers) and if you're feeling really brave...try Wham "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
3) The successful duets - Duets are tough. Most people avoid them, but there are a few that everyone loves. "Love Shack" by the B52s and "Summer Nights" from Grease will never lead you astray.
4) Journey - Everybody loves Journey. Even if you won't admit it, you love Journey. HOWEVER, and I stress this, don't try to sing Journey if you can't hit those notes or if you're tone deaf. The crowd will drown you out if you can't sing, but Journey is much more karaoke fun if the person up there can actually sing. The obvious ones are "Don't Stop Believing" and "Faithfully," but I've also seen some great renditions of "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)." Pick a song, any song. They're all bomb.
5) The songs everybody knows but forgot about - Bringing a song back that used to be popular is always fun. "Semi Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind, old Elton John like "Crocodile Rock," or songs like Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" can work well because people go, Oh yeah, I remember this song!! They make good karaoke songs for the nostalgia factor.

6) The girl anthems - Here you've got your female empowerment songs, and a few that are just awesome. Try some Tragic Kingdom-era No Doubt, Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" (which is vastly becoming a crowd favorite and is the only acceptable "country" song to sing).
- Side category: The 80s girl anthem - Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," anything by Blondie, Cyndi Lauper, or if you really can't think of anything else to sing, Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n Roll."

7) The old school hits - These are the old dude favorites. But no matter your age, these songs are always good. Kicking it old school is always appreciated - Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong, or "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" are a few faves

8) The left field crowd pleasers - If you can sing for real and you're feeling crazy.... try some crowd pleasers most people wouldn't think to sing for karaoke. Like "Let's Get it On" by Marvin Gaye. Or some James Brown. Something that requires crooning or massive singing skills.

9) The dancing songs - These are the songs that are going to make people get up and dance. ABBA is great for this. Britney can also work, but it depends on the song. "Baby Got Back" is also a dancing gem, but make sure you know the words.

10) Anything singalongable - This covers any songs that people like to sing to. Weezer is a crowd pleaser, Madonna and Billy Idol too. People always enjoy "Sweet Home Alabama" too. Even though it's overdone, it's a fun singalongable song.


1) The songs EVERYBODY sings - If I never hear "Sweet Caroline," "Margaritaville" or "Brown Eyed Girl" ever again, it would be too soon.

2) The songs nobody knows - If your friends go "Huh?" when you mention an artist or song, it's probably not a good one for karaoke. Why it's even in the book is beyond me. People will be bored if they don't know the song you're singing. Old dudes are infamous for pulling these out.

3) No long slow songs - The biggest problem with slow songs is that they're painfully long. An old guy favorite in this category is Elton John's "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me." Anything with a similar tempo should be avoided, especially if it's 8 minutes long.

4) No more sad songs - Anything about dying or death or songs that make people cry should not be brought into a karaoke platform. Once, a girl sang "I Will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan and then immediately went into "Goodbye to You" by Michelle Branch as her next choice. If you're depressed, don't sing karaoke.

5) The awkwardly sexual song - While "Baby Got Back" is fun*, don't think sexual songs fly with karaoke crowds. Once you get into "The Bad Touch" by the Bloodhound Gang or "I'll Make Love to You" by Boyz II Men, people start to feel uncomfortable (we actually sang the latter was AWKWARD). Another one to avoid is "I Wanna Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd. It's not funny- just awkward.
* This song is best sung when everybody's had a few drinks in them.

6) The rap songs, by someone who can't rap - This doesn't happen very often (most people know better), but I've seen it. Basically: White girls should not try to sing Snoop Dogg. I'm not being racist; I say this based on the fact that most white girls cannot rap. White guys also should not try Eminem songs. Just because he's white does not mean that you, normal white guy, can rap. Leave the rapping to the rappers.

7) Songs that are plain annoying - My favorite in this category is LEN's "Steal My Sunshine." When the song title comes on the screen, the audience GROANS. Groans. No joke. Stay away from songs people just don't like. Aqua's "Barbie Girl" would be another groan-inducing one. Creed and Nickelback also go in this category.

8) The 10 minute long song - I'm talking to you, "Bohemian Rapsody" and "Thriller." It sounds like a good idea because people like these songs, but trust 7 minutes, people are bored. Sure they'll sing along for a while. But these songs are Just. Too. Long. And absolutely no "Freebird" or "Hotel California" either!!

9) Songs with very little lyrics or long instrumental sections - Usually the only time this happens is after the 10th sake bomb, but it's a good reminder to know what you're singing before you put it in. Songs like "Tequila!" should never be karaoke'd. This also applies for songs like "Paradise City" by's got a forever and ever instrumental section right in the middle, making it a weird song for karaoke. "Love is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar...same thing. Listen to your karaoke songs before you hit the bar.

So there you have it. 
Hopefully this will help you next time you are looking through those books, trying to decide on what to sing for your big number.

I want to give a shout out to M. Rose, funny writer and creator of this list, for making me laugh and providing excellent insight into effective karaoking.  This girl rocks and knows what she is talking about!  She wrote a really funny list of songs that work and songs NOT to sing.  Great job, girl!

Now everyone...go out there and knock their socks off!


  1. Very true, my friend, very true. Excellent list to follow.

  2. Places that do karaoke should go through the books and just delete some of those songs that we are so SICK of hearing! If I have to hear one more person sing Suddenly Seymour I will rip my hair out!

  3. Fun, fun, fun list! Wouldn't it be great to post this up at bars, so that people could read it before choosing a bad song? LOL! -Dave

  4. I've never sang karaoke before, but I've always wanted to. Thanks for posting this list, as I will refer to it when I finally work up the courage.

  5. Oh no! I am a victim of singing Barbie Girl before. But i definitely see your point. I think you have to have the right personality to pull that one off. Plus, it was fun at the beginning, but after the first verse it was old.

  6. I love Karaoke...I do it every friday at the nugget.......your list is a great help... ;)

    I would love to see you doing Karaoke sometime, I bet u put on a

  7. Don't Stop Believing. Karaoke EXCELLENCE! :)