Anyone whose been to even one karaoke night can tell you: sometimes, karaoke can go very, very badly. Most of us have seen that poor soul who realized on stage that they miscalculated their ability to navigate the peaks and valleys of "Don't Stop Believing," or that one drunk guy who incorrectly assumed that everybody loved Creed as much as him. (They don't.) It's a tragic sight to witness, and it happens all too often. So, in an effort to prevent future missteps for karaoke fanatics everywhere, I'd like to offer a bit of advice on how to make sure you're the coolest person in the karaoke bar. Spoiler alert: it's about picking the right songs.
Obviously, karaoke can be a little nerve-wracking. After all, you're performing songs you only kinda know in front of strangers — and, to make matters worse, most of us aren't professional singers. The first rule to being the coolest cucumber at karaoke, though, is to temper your liquor intake and avoid getting too drunk. While a little bit of alcohol to loosen up is probably a good idea, don't fall too far down that crevasse — too many karaoke patrons have made this mistake one too many times, and it always ends with them trying to monopolize the setlist until they're politely asked to leave.
More important than going easy on your liver is savvy song curation, though! Even the screechiest of singers will look like Sinatra if they pick the right song. It's tempting to whip out the generic crowd pleasing standards (4 Non Blondes' "What's Up," Madonna's "Like A Virgin," and so on), but resist you must. They're not horrific karaoke mistakes by any means, but you can do better! You want to aim for songs that mix something familiar with something obscure. Feel like singing Robyn? Don't sing "Dancing On My Own," sing that '90s hit everyone forgets about, "Show Me Love." You're not trying to be cool, you're trying to be the coolest!
Need some examples? Here are seven songs to sing at karaoke if you want to leave the stage with your head held high:
I know, I know. You're having a lot of emotions because you're nervous and you think singing "Creep" is going to make you stand out. Everyone respects Radiohead, right? Wrong! By the time you're at the lyric "your skin makes me cry," no one will have any doubts about you being a creep, and they'll all feel a little bit sadder inside. Instead, go for "Just." It's a little emotional too, but it's a pretty badass '90s anthem about personal responsibility. You'll leave that performance looking like you've got your life together.
Lesley Gore, "That's The Way Boy's Are"
Everybody loves a spunky retro classic from the '50s "girl-group" era. Not only is the music pretty fun to hear, but the gender politics described in the lyrics are so ridiculously outdated that people will appreciate the ironic sensibilities behind your selection.
Marina And Te Diamonds, "How To Be A Heartbreaker"
Pull it off right and everyone will feel the same way about you that they feel about the real Marina — intimidated, and a little aroused.
Loretta Lynn, "Fist City"
This country classic is feisty and fun, and people have a strangely universal admiration for Loretta Lynn. Remember to practice your twang!
Drake, "Hold On, We're Going Home"
Ooh, yeah! I'm dancing alone in my room just thinking about it. Beware, though: if you sing it too well, everyone in the bar will want to go home with you.
Prince, "Little Red Corvette"
I mean, it's Prince. You don't even have to sing. You can just let the music play, and people will still think you're amazing.
Azealia Banks, "212"
This is like the triple black diamond ski slope of karaoke songs. Much like the slope, it is NOT for amateurs — but, if you make it through the song without too many mistakes, you automatically win the night. Do it perfectly and the karaoke jockey will literally crown you king of the karaoke bar.