Karaoke Night Sucks; What Do You Do?

Karaoke_Gorman.jpg
Illustration by Mike Gorman

Karaoke can be a dangerous endeavor. What can you sing that won't make friends shun you? How can you go balls-out during your next performance? Each week in "Ask a Karaoke Host," RFT Music writer and professional karaoke host Allison Babka answers your burning questions about maximizing your melodious mutterings and minimizing your friends' pain. Ask her stuff by e-mailing rftkaraoke@gmail.com or hashtagging #rftkaraoke on Twitter.

Author's note: After covering just about every karaoke angle possible over the past six months, I'm pooped. We'll be putting this column on hiatus after the March 20 edition, so if you've got crazy questions about choosing songs, performing onstage or enduring the audience's proclivity to point and laugh at you, now's the time to send 'em to rftkaraoke@gmail.com!

Besides "Theme from New York, New York," what else should be banned from a KJ's song list? -- Highway to Hell

Theoretically, nothing should be banned. If a song is in the book, it's meant to be performed. I get new songs every week for a reason: Why would I buy/license them and then prevent you from singing them?

That said, I do wish I could strike black lines through certain songs. I don't care how gifted of a performer you think you are, some numbers just sound ridiculous unless you're Matt Bellamy or Adele (Side note: Stop trying to be Matt Bellamy or Adele.).

If I owned SuperUnicornKaraokeLand, here's what I'd be excited to ban:

  • "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen: Four people wobble up to the mics with intentions of harmonizing, but they end up simply screaming over each other and giggling through the falsetto.
  • "Black" by Pearl Jam: Don't hate me; I love PJ as much as the next '90s kid! But I want to strangle myself with my flannel sleeves when someone performs this painfully dreary number and insists on doing all three minutes of the "Doo-doo doo doo doo-doo-doooooo" outro.
  • "Shoop" by Salt-n-Pepa: In my version of heaven, no one will know that this song ever existed. Goodbye, leggings girls.
  • "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond: 1) It's SO overdone. 2) Diamond has a plethora of better songs. 3) It reminds me of the Red Sox. Yeah, fuck you, Sox.
  • Weird Al Yankovic songs: I'm only somewhat embarrassed to say that I listen to Weird Al on a fairly regular basis (True story: I brought the "Eat It" 45 to show-and-tell in first grade.). But his songs don't go over well on karaoke night -- especially when performers really only know the choruses.
  • The Glee version of anything: Friends understand that my brain assumes my life to be one long Glee episode. That doesn't mean I want people pretending to be Rachel Berry while performing a terrible, nearly Muzak'd version of U2's "One" in my bar.

At SuperUnicornKaraokeLand, I'd also employ a rule prohibiting you from performing a song more than once a month. Your rendition of "No Diggity" sure is swell (not), but people don't need to hear it every damn week. Branch out a little, Rerun.


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5 comments
batzradio
batzradio

Pro-ban for any version of "Hallelujah" and anything by Elliott Smith. Karaoke isn't for suicidally depressing songs. 

Synthi
Synthi

Why is your staff always embarrassed of stuff? I do not want to party with any of these people.

MichellePar
MichellePar

@batzradio I've got a singer who comes in once in a great while, and signs Hallelujah so well that people get goosebumps.  It is devastatingly beautiful.

I'll never say there are songs I don't want people to sing.  For every three or four people who are wretched, there is always someone who can blow it away (even Adele songs).  That is actually one of the things I really love about karaoke; I never know when I'm going to be surprised by something great.  That is how I can sit through anything. :)

allison.babka
allison.babka topcommenter

@Synthi I don't want to party with anonymous interwebz folks, so we're even.

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