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10 Songs You Should NEVER Sing at Karaoke


One of my best friends is maybe the best, most hilarious karaoke host ever.  I never knew I enjoyed it so much (don’t judge), until I started hanging out with her.  However, over the years of going to karaoke and bartending at a bar that has a karaoke night, I’ve learned a few things.  And frankly people, it’s all about song choice.  If you can really sing, I mean belt like Aretha – have at it, sing whatever your heart desires.  But for the rest of us mere mortals with a voice that should be kept inside cars and showers, there are songs you should resist.  I’m not saying don’t have fun. That’s what Britney Spears and Def Leppard are for.  I’m merely suggesting not torturing yourself and tons of friends and unsuspecting strangers. Somehow a room full of drunk people singing along to “Living on a Prayer” never gets old, but there are some songs that I highly recommend you remove from your karaoke repertoire.

1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
I get it. We all saw Wayne’s World, who totally used this song hilariously and effectively. It’s also called editing and movie magic.  In the real world, there is just nothing to get through the first 4 minutes of sad, weepy music before the headbanging begins. It’s awkward, uncomfortable, and why choose this when there are so many other awesome Queen songs out there? Personally, I can always hear Fat Bottomed Girls.

2. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
This song officially goes on the ‘it’s been done’ list.  Every night at every karaoke night across the country, someone is singing this song. On behalf of all the waitresses, karaoke hosts, bartenders, security, and other bar patrons – stop torturing them. It’s just mean, and you’re slowly killing an awesome song.

3. Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-a-Lot
This is always sung by a bunch of drunk girls or white dudes. Ironically, these two groups seem the least impressed by girls who actually have got ‘back’.  This is a one of the 90’s best one-hit wonders, however, no one needs to hear “36-24-36, only if she’s 5’3” anymore. Trust me.

4. American Pie – Don McLean
While this song was used to awesome effect in the Grand Rapids Lip Dub as a way to promote their city, it’s the longest song ever. It’s almost 9 minutes. Even though you know all the words (a definite bonus to song selection), you’ll stand up there for so long you’ll want someone to put you out of your misery, as will everyone else seated at the bar.

5. Creep – Radiohead
I’m always amazed that guys love to sing this song.  Not that Radiohead isn’t awesome, but that note at the end is way higher than you realize, you’re not Thom Yorke, it’s a buzzkill, and you’re not so fucking special.

6. Love Shack – B52’s
Tin Roof! Rusted!  Yeah, I know. After seeing girls grind on each other to this song, a memory seared on my brain, no one wants to hear this anymore. And furthermore, I think you can’t grind to a song that was around before grinding. This one is personal.

7. Summer Lovin – Grease
Karaoke makes some people nervous, so singing with a partner makes it less daunting.  But if someone sings Danny and Sandy’s summer romance one more time, I’ll punch them in the throat.

8. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
I first heard this song when I saw Priscilla: Queen of the Desert – it was fabulous. So if you’re a gay man in a fabulous headpiece with a matching outrageous costume, go for it. Sadly, it’s become a female anthem, and every night drunk girls sing it and it just looks pathetic.  Nothing, besides owning 4 cats, wearing a Hello Kitty t-shirt while discussing why you love Wicked, is more unattractive to every man and woman in the bar than singing this song.  As with most over-the-top things, leave it to the gays.

9. Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
First, it’s a hard act to follow singing Carrie Underwood (this applies to Mariah and Celine too), second it comes across as angry. And sometimes angry is not a good thing to showcase in front of a room full of drinking strangers.  See #8

10. What’s Going On – 4 Non Blondes

This is another 90’s one-hit wonder that manages to live on through karaoke nights.  It’s just an annoying song.  It’s screechy and whiney and let’s just agree to leave it in the 90’s with high-waisted jeans and cross colors.


2 Responses to “10 Songs You Should NEVER Sing at Karaoke”

  1. Elisabeth Fitzgerald June 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I’d like to throw “Sweet Caroline” into the mix. Just. Stop. Now.

  2. November 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Cheers mate, I’m a hip hop producer your article was awesome, it really heleped me. I hope my mixcloud track will be better after reading this.Cheers!!

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