9 Karaoke Songs To Avoid Like The Plague

1. American Pie, Don McLean. This is the one that people inevitably use to lure their drunk guy friend onstage, because he loves that song, bro, and he knows all the words. First of all, no he doesn’t, and secondly, this song is so much longer than you think it is. It’s only fun for the first three minutes, and then it’s just endless and awkward, and your drunk friend is either resenting you for making him do this interminable thing, or obliviously hamming it up long past the point when it’s funny to do so.

2. Sweet Dreams Are Made of This, The Eurythmics. Turns out this song is essentially about a thousand repetitions of two lines, and those lines are really more “chanted” than “sung.” If you try to sing it, you will wind up in a weird fugue state where part of you is twitching your hips in time with the relentless tempo and trying to chant in a hypnotic manner, part of you is frantically wondering when this stupid song ends, and none of you resembles Annie Lennox in any way, shape, or form.

3. Anything by Adele, Whitney, or Mariah. I was going to say “any one-named female pop diva” but you can pry “La Isla Bonita” out of my cold, dead mouth. You know how good you sound in your car with the windows rolled down singing along with “Rolling in the Deep,” how you feel it deep down in your bones, and Adele has that low register anyway and you know the crowd will be with you? I admire your self-esteem, but no.

4. Informer, Snow. Although this was only a minor hit and is now old, I’ve seen several people try to perform it, and it has been excruciatingly painful for everyone each time. Don’t be one of those people. You think you know the lyrics, but you don’t, and also you don’t have the breath to spit them out even if you did. It’s way too fast, which is why it’s unintelligible to begin with. Many Blues Traveler songs also fall into this category, as do many hip-hop numbers and that godawful thing by Chumbawumba.

5. Songs where you only know the chorus. Yes, you’ll have the words in front of you, but still. You have to have a basic grasp of the song’s structure and story or you will do it wrong, and then get nervous, and be so anxious to get to the part you do know that you’re stumbling all over the place. Trust the woman who tried to sing “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About” by Bonnie Raitt and nearly died from the stress of it. There was phrasing in there I couldn’t nail with a hammer.

6. Soulful ballads from Disney cartoons. Can you paint with all the colors of the wind? If you are a man and you try to sing about it, ESPECIALLY if you gesture with your arms while doing so, your penis automatically shrinks by 25% — and everyone sees it happening. (There are a few exceptions to this rule, but I’m nearly certain that you’re not one of them. If you were, you would already be triple-sure of it and your friends would have marveled several times, unprompted, about how great your rendition of “A Whole New World” was. Don’t you dare close your eyes!) (Certain exemptions apply for gay men, as well.)

7. Songs in another language. Yes, Spanish is largely phonetic, but guess what? Los Lobos actually understood what those words meant! That’s why they did such a bang-up job delivering them. You, sir or madam, are no capitan. You can baila la bamba, but don’t sing it.

8. Anything that requires more than two people to be on stage. If you are drunk enough to think that you and all your girlfriends should perform “I Got Friends in Low Places” or “All the Single Ladies” together, you will live to regret stepping up on that stage. One per mic.

9. Son of a Preacher Man, Me and Bobby McGee, Black Velvet, I Will Survive, She’s in Love with the Boy. These songs are mine, so step off.

Of course, none of these rules apply if you a) are genuinely good; or b) genuinely don’t give care what other people think.

Except rule number nine. That stands. TC mark

image – Derek Gavey

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  • wasabi

    10. Lollipop by Lil Wayne. Trust me.

  • Muertecaramelo

    Alannah Myles is mine. GTFO.
    Also, I would like to ban anything from a musical: Chicago was fab because of Mrs. Z. Only because of that.

    • eastie

      sorry, black velvet’s mine, actually

  • http://andiegoddessofpickles.blogspot.com/ Andie

    Anything with instrumentals longer than 10 bars.  If you do, that solo better be long enough that you can walk your ass up to the bar and get yourself another drink.  Read: this means anything by Pink Floyd.

    And I have to ask.. Why are songs like “Wipe Out” and “Tequila” even ON karaoke playlists?

  • Belle

    In the Philippines, you’ll get murdered when you sing Frank Sinatra’s My Way. True story.

  • Anonymous

    UB40- “Red, Red Wine”

    The name of this song quite deceptive for a drunk karaokier, but it’s actually really long, and really, really sad. I saw a super drunk Bro attempt this once and it was one the most awkward/embarrassing/hilarious things I’ve ever witnessed.

  • chelsea

    bad ripoff of the book “hit me with your best shot.” 

    and you forgot to mention “total eclipse of the heart” the old school version which EVERYBODY thinks will be hilarious. but it’s not.

    • Cristal Ribeiro

      YES! I opened the link expecting to see Total Eclipse of the Heart at #1. Always a good song to sing when you’re drunk…

  • http://andiegoddessofpickles.blogspot.com/ Andie

    Add to list:  Picture by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow.  This one is always performed by a very earnest but off-key girl and her reluctant boyfriend who only kind of knows the words and mumbles through them except when he comes to ‘I was off to Drink You Away’ at which point he belts it out like he’s Whitney Houston (I know it’s too soon, but that was the first name that came to mind)

    • Guest

      Ha ha ha, exactly the lyric I had in my mind as I started reading.

  • Brian

    My good friend sang Go the Distance (Hercules) at karaoke once and brought the house down! Just because you’re insecure about your own masculinity doesn’t change the fact that Disney’s music is phenomenal and loved by all.

  • Hello

    No Bed of Roses?

  • http://twitter.com/kaimcn Kai

    I could have used this two weeks ago.

    And what was with the karaoke place I went to not having “Just a Friend” by Biz Markie?

  • Robert

    Here in the UK, Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’ has occupied a similar position to the “diva” songs you mention. His rendering of it is so good, no one really notices how high the register goes. The (male) kareoke singer knows the words, but watching them try to surmount the chorus lyric (“And through it … *allllll*, she offers me protection”) without a run-up is invariably cringe inducing.

    • Jeb Hoge

      I *can* do it, but I’ve never tried it in kareoke. There are other Robbie songs I’d rather sing than Angels anyway.

  • http://newhandsweepstakes.com/contributors/brian-mcelmurry/ Brian M

    like the little jokes!

  • http://twitter.com/geology_rocks Haley F

    As a running joke someone would always put Informer by Snow on whenever we went to karaoke. We’re actually pretty good at it now.

  • Menotyou

    Anything by Journey, Queen or Bon goddamn jovi  please stop! Also any of these songs : killing me softly, ice ice baby,You outta know or fuck you by ceelo green (except when its directed at an ex in the room and results in fisticuffs)!

    • zealous

      oh god hearing “Fuck You” being belted out and reeeeeally being able to tell the person person has an ex in the room is priceless.

  • Epbtal

    Pretty much anything that got famous again based on glee, ESPECIALLY don’t stop believing. Also, bohemian rhapsody in 99.9% of cases.

  • Steph

    I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness…I shudder at the memories, and yes, I’ve heard it butchered more than once…

  • Erica

    Singing “Come on Eileen” with my dad was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

  • http://twitter.com/amanda_silvas Amanda Silvas

    Died at rule #9.

  • http://twitter.com/Rockstarwakafs Anti-idiot

    But am pretty sure one can comfortable perfom Adele´s    set rain to the fire

  • Mare

    Why go to karaoke if you have all of these opinions and rules? I’d rather someone try Adele or a song that gets sung too much over a song that no one knows or has ever heard. It’s about having fun – no one cares about your personal opinion.

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