The 11 Worst Karaoke Songs Ever, Because No One Wants To Hear Your Adele Impression
If you look at it one way, what makes a song a bad karaoke song is totally subjective. Under this philosophy, there's no such thing as a right or wrong pick for karaoke, only an impassioned or weak performance. And that's what makes karaoke so exciting — it's a musical pursuit that you can only fail at via lack of enthusiasm.
But if you look at in another, slightly more realistic way, there are some common qualities that all good karaoke songs possess — they must be lighthearted, they must not require any serious vocal talent to execute, and they must run under four minutes — and anything deviating from these standards generally turns out to be a bad karaoke song.
And then, if you look at in a third and much more realistic way, there are some songs that are just born bad. I'm not talking about the controversy surrounding many wildly popular karaoke songs — like, is Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" horrifically overplayed, or a good drunk party-time sing along? Is Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" a hilarious karaoke jam, or just six minutes of your life that you'll never get back? Is Foreigner's "Feels Like The First Time," (my own go-to karaoke number) some harmless classic rock fun, or, as I was recently told, a sound "like being beaten in the face with garbage"? I believe most karaoke songs can be redeemed; nearly all can go either way depending on the crowd, your level of experience, and how many Jell-O shooters you've consumed in the past hour.
But the 11 songs below are always, unequivocally a mistake — not because they're bad songs, but because they fly in the face of all the thing that make karaoke great and/or tolerable. Do not perform them ever, under any circumstances — and if you do, may god have mercy on your rock 'n' roll soul.
11. "Thunder Road," Bruce Springsteen
Why You Chose It: You, like the Boss, are a man of the people. You, like the Boss, care about the struggles of the common man! You, like the Boss, are in standing front of a ton of drunk people, and you just want to make them happy.
Why It Was A Terrible Idea: "Thunder Road" is, when sung by Bruce Springsteen, a transcendent song that was made for a drunk singalong. But "Thunder Road," when sung by you, is a five minute long mess that requires a technical vocal proficiency, a gravitas, and a cool denim jacket that you simply don't possess. Your attempts to sing this song are nothing but a slap in the face of America's Cool Uncle Who Lets You Try A Sip of His Beer, Bruce Springsteen.
10. "Jeremy," Pearl Jam
Why You Chose It: You love Pearl Jam, and you can't believe they have a Pearl Jam song at this karaoke place!
Why It Was A Terrible Idea: Maybe you haven't paid close attention to the lyrics of "Jeremy" in a while. Well, trust me, you will starting paying a LOT of attention the second that you realize that you're stuck on a stage and now have to say "bit the recess lady's breast" in front of your friend who was just trying to have a nice birthday party FOR ONCE. Why do you always need to start trouble? This is like our trip to Ibiza all over again!
9. "Set Fire To The Rain," Adele
Why You Chose It: Well, someone else already sang "Rollin' In The Deep." What were you supposed to do?
Why It Was A Terrible Idea: Adele had the longest-running #1 album by a female artist in U.S. history because she can hold those notes. A few seconds into attempting to sing this, you will suddenly realize that you do not hold the record for the longest-running #1 album by a female artist in U.S. history, because you cannot hold those notes. Nor can you hit those notes. You're not even sure what notes these are, but now you're stuck up here, fruitlessly reaching for them, as if you are trapped inside one of those nude anxiety dream.
8. "Angel," Sarah MacLachlan
Why You Chose It: Sarah MacLachlan is a talented singer, and this is a great song that existed way before those sad animal commercials. You're redeeming it, and forcing people to consider its musical merit.
Why It Was A Terrible Idea: WHO ARE YOU? THE DEVIL?
7. "Lose Yourself," Eminem
Why You Chose It: Everyone is just singing boring old fart classic rock or shameful pop trash in this karaoke joint! What dorks. At least there's Eminem here. And you know all the words! How could this possibly go wrong?
Why It Was A Terrible Idea: Everyone sounds like a bit of a jerk when they pick a song that's based around singing lyrics very quickly at karaoke (see: the wasted dude-bros who whip out Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life" or Barenaked Ladies' "One Week"). Everyone also sounds like a bit of a jerk when they sing a very earnest song at karaoke (see: the very serious woman who sings Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee" every week). I know that "Barenaked Ladies + Janis Joplin" is not what you think of when you think of Eminem, but you become that very strange beast when you perform this fast-talking, self-serious song at karaoke.
6. "My Way," Frank Sinatra
Why You Chose It: Everyone knows this one!
Why It Was A Terrible Idea: Everyone does know this one — and in fact, if you try to sing it, you'll surely be one of 19 "My Way"s that night at whichever karaoke spot you're hanging out at. In fact, this song is so popular, it actually led to a series of murders in the Phillipines in the early 2000s, when karaoke patrons brawled over the right to sing the song.
5. "Paradise By The Dashboard Light," Meatloaf
Why You Chose It: It's funny! We're having fun! Ironic fun!
Why It Was A Terrible Idea: Ironic karaoke fun only works with songs that are about 180 seconds long. This song is roughly nine minutes long, which is 15 hours in karaoke time. By the end of this, your friends have turned on you, you have made new enemies, and everyone in the karaoke bar is, as the song says, "waiting for the end of time/to hurry up and arrive."
4. "Picture" by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock
Why You Chose It: You're singing with your boo! It's cute! It's like your emotionally estranged rock stars, instead of happy people who watch Doctor Who together every night over Thai food.
Why It Was A Terrible Idea: No matter your personal feelings about Kid Rock (though the correct answer is: UNBEARABLE), this song is a slog, dragging along at a snail's pace, and giving the audience nothing to do. Karaoke is a communal experience, man! If you want to just entertain yourself, stay home and perform your synchronized dance routines to "All I Wanna Do" in private, like I do.
3. Literally anything from Les Miserables
Why You Chose It: You've got the chops, so why hide 'em? You got a musical theatre degree, goddamn it, and while you may have given in to your parents' demands that you pursue a career in accounting instead of one on the Great White Way, you still get to cut loose some time.
Why It Was A Terrible Idea: People come to a karaoke bar to get drunk and possibly have sex with whoever agrees to sing "Summer Lovin'" with them. They did not sign on to hear you show off your perfect pitch and then watch you make emotive hand gestures. Get with the program, or step aside.
2. "What's Up?," 4 Non Blondes
Why You Chose It: I don't know why you chose it. I don't know why anyone would choose it. Are you an actual former member of 4 Non Blondes? Is that what this is about? The dream is over, man! Give it up! Sing a Katy Perry song or something!
Why It Was A Terrible Idea: This song is long (five minutes), it is self-serious, but most of all, it shows that you think you're an awesome singer, but also too cool to sing a Broadway song, which, ironically, makes it the entire thing even worse. What's going on?
1. "Bohemian Rhapsody," Queen
Why You Chose It: You and your friends can all sing it at once! Yes, you've been drinking since 2 p.m., why do you ask?
Why It Was A Terrible Idea: By minute two, everyone in this karaoke bar will want to murder you, and there is not a judge in the country who will convict them.Now this, on the other hand, we fully approve of.