Karaoke Night Sucks; What Do You Do?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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.
- "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" by Meatloaf, or any song more than four minutes long: Read my rant from last week.
- 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.