I've sung praises of karaoke before but I'll do it again. Seriously, you guys, gripping the microphone—and embracing the 'tude that comes with it—while standing either in front of or alongside your (probably drunk) friends and strangers is like no other feeling (save maybe actually singing an original song in a band to which you belong, but like, we're not all Neko Case so let's talk reality here). If the thought of taking the stage in such a way terrifies you, that's normal. That's why karaoke is usually combined with moderate to heavy drinking. It's honestly a very important ingredient, in more scenarios. I definitely know people who kill at karaoke sans sauce, but they're rare unicorns of bravery. To be honest, karaoke is one of the most fun, interesting activities you can do while drunk because real talk: Darts are stupid. I don't want to play darts anymore ever. Let's just sing! Let's sing badly and never pick up a dart again! Let's sing all the time, every night, a glass of wine in one hand and a mozzarella stick in the other!
Just as we develop our favorite drunk snacks (I'm looking at you, all forms of fried potatoes), we amass a go-to set of favorites for karaoke (which are also usually accompanied by our favorite snacks, if we're living our best lives). Through sloppy trial-and-error, we come to learn and love songs that match our own vocal and performance skill sets (HAHAHA yeah right). Real talk: A good karaoke pick is one that can easily transfer solo to group number, and clocks in under five minutes, save special circumstances (i.e., extreme drunkdom). We figure out which songs get the best crowd reaction regardless of personal prowess because well, we are not (usually) in bands. We're in a dive bar or private room preparing to test our friends of exactly how much screeching and hip swivels they can stomach. Not to mention fried food. (If you can handle all of the above for a considerable period of time, you've already earned my respect.)
Friendship! Here's some of the finest picks you can pick next time you set wobbly foot to the karaoke screen. Sing safely, bbs.
Brandy and Monica, "The Boy Is Mine"
If you grew up during the peak of '90s FM radio with even just one friend and say you don't immediately identify with either Brandy or Monica, you're a damn liar.
The B-52s, "Rock Lobster"
Also acceptable: "Private Idaho," "Love Shack" (duh).
Wilson Philips, "Hold On"
Besides providing pure joy, this song has a message, guys! I feel empowered! I know who I am again!
Shania Twain, "Man! I Feel Like A Woman!"
Bonus: This provides the perfect opportunity to commandeer others' drinks as part of ~the act~.
Backstreet Boys, "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)"
Pay no mind that this song appeared on BSB's debut album so in a way, there's no return potential. Find a chair and make it your dancing partner!
Def Leppard, "Pour Some Sugar On Me"
Any respectable karaoke sesh includes a number that could double as appropriate at the strip club.
This one is especially good drunk considering it's the only circumstance in which you'd openly admit to already knowing all the words.
Seal, "Kiss From A Rose"
Batman Forever forever!
Janet Jackson, "All For You"
When Janet's cadence speeds up and your slow brain has problems keeping up, distract everyone by resorting to some ass-shaking.
I have put this on at bars and clubs across the country for a variety of patrons and I swear it has never gone not well. See how much better it can be when belted with your own mouth and voice.
Blue Swede, "Hooked On A Feeling"
Involve the whole dang crowd with rousing backing choruses!
Natalie Imbruglia, "Torn"
OutKast, "So Fresh, So Clean"
Make the wise move and call Big Boi's part, leaving Andre's impossibly speedy raps to the expert or unsuspecting.
Mariah Carey, "Always Be My Baby"
This inclusion has nothing to do with the fact my sister and I spent each elementary school summer crooning this to each other in line at TCBY. Not at all.
Coolio, "Gangster's Paradise"
Try not to get distracted that Coolio clearly states he was only 23 during this recording. Get your gangster lean going strong.
The Human League, "Don't You Want Me?"
Sing-along potential is through the sure-to-be-sweating-by-now roof.
Prince, "I Would Die 4 U"
Shout out to gender fluidity! And Prince with his tightly locked-down copyright so his original is not available on YouTube! Enjoy this cover from Nick Jonas as a good example of how to make this sexy song completely sterile.
Jackson 5, "ABC"
If you can listen to this song and somehow not feel spiritually lifted, I don't want to know you.
Duran Duran, "Rio"
Listen, this is a staple. Simple.
Usher, "You Make Me Wanna..."
Perhaps skip if your S.O. is also in the house and not equipped with a fluid sense of humor.
Britney Spears, "Toxic"
Some people would argue earlier Britney is better for belting in public. Some people are morons. CLEARLY the frantic saw noises and high-pitched, breathy delivery begs for your own subpar attempt.
Jennifer Lopez, "If You Had My Love"
Perk: Planning on performing this one means you could feasibly wear pajama pants out to the bar to "get into character."
Best reserved for later in the night when you can only bring yourself to seat-dance and vogue your and other peoples' faces without having to stand up.
The Cardigans, "Love Fool"
Challenge: Dedicate this one to a stranger and wink a lot. Like, a lot.
Cat Stevens, "Wild World"
A sensitive selection.
Bruce Springsteen, "Dancing In The Dark"
The dance moves involve literally only flailing your arms. I believe in you!
The Goo Goo Dolls, "Slide"
Remind everyone how weird the '90s were!
Hall & Oates, "Rich Girl"
Everyone appreciates a good lesson!
Destiny's Child, "Say My Name"
Rolling Stones, "Brown Sugar"
Guess who had moves like Jagger pre-Maroon 5? Jagger. See if you can't one-up Levine's weak attempt.
The Cure, "Just Like Heaven"
Little did Robert Smith know while penning this ditty that "show me show me show me" could also beg the bartender to see what kind of bill you've racked up so far.
Otis Redding, "Hard To Handle"
Fact: Singing this, despite any present skill, makes you 40 percent more attractive as a potential or current lover.
Nelly, "Hot In Herre"
Jason is SUCH the kidder. If there's a Jason group in your, feel free to zealously point at him with a knowing nod.
Smash Mouth, "Walkin' On The Sun"
It's good to punish your friends every so often.
Cyndi Lauper, "Girls Just Want To Have Fun"
Story time: I once sung this in a barn at my friends' reception with all the women from the bride's family. It was a tender moment that I trust you can replicate, regardless of gender identity.
Taylor Swift, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"
Dedicate this one to all of your most rotten exes. Catharsis, baby.
Bob Seger And The Silver Bullet Band, "Night Moves"
If you ever hear this poorly warbled from far away and behind a curtain of Capri cigarette smoke, don't worry—it's just me. Or one of my tribe. Either way, we're not sorry. Join us! It's nice here.