Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Top Ten: Karaoke Songs for Guys

AskMen.com recently had a list of the Top 10 Karaoke Songs for Guys. Here is their list:
10. "Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen
9. "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC
8. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones
7. "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond
6. "Livin' On a Prayer" by Bon Jovi
5. "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
4. "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks
3. "Cecelia" by Simon & Garfunkel
2. "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey
1. "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf

While some of the list was acceptable, I found much of the list to be repugnant. "Cecelia"? Really? I don't think I've ever heard that karaoked by male or female. And "Born to be Wild" as No. 1? What is this, a Cialis commercial? As one of the commentators noted, it's almost as if several female interns got together and picked a list of songs they thought would be good karaoke songs for guys to sing.

For better or (more often) worse, I've been known to hammer out a few tunes when the karaoke and alcohol gods converge. There is a certain art to choosing a karaoke song, which is very similar to choosing a song on the jukebox.
  • The song should not be too long. No one wants to hear a karaoke version of "Freebird."
  • The song should be somewhat anthemic and possibly have a chorus that people can sing along with. It should be able to rouse people, rather than put them to sleep or depress them. No one wants to hear a karaoke version of pretty much any song by Radiohead except maybe "Creep."
  • The song should be fairly well-known, which is usually not a problem because unknown songs generally don't make it onto karaoke lists.
  • Duets -- especially male/female duets -- should be avoided at all costs. I thought the box office disaster Duets, starring Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow, made this clear, but apparently so few people saw the movie that the point was not made. The only appropriate place to hear "Summer Nights" is hell. (This rule is not meant to exclude multiple people singing at once -- just duets. And, yes Ryan, this includes "Paradise By The Dashboard Light.")
  • Know your limits. The song should not be too difficult for you to sing. If you don't have a falsetto, don't sing songs that require a falsetto. I once saw a guy absolutely butcher "Photograph" by Def Leppard because he was nowhere close to being able to hit any of the high notes that Joe Elliot can hit. The result was that the choruses sounded like a cat being put in a blender. Granted, the more intoxicated you and your audience gets, the less this becomes an issue.
  • The goal of your performance is one or more of the following: (1) for women to laugh (with you, not at you -- it's a subtle, but very important distinction), (2) to get people to sing along, and/or (3) for your performance not to have a negative impact on women's desire to have sex with you.

With that, below is what I hope is a more appropriate Top Ten Karaoke Songs for Guys:
10 (tie). Any of the following Frank Sinatra songs: "My Way," "Strangers in the Night," "Luck Be a Lady," or "Lady is a Tramp." Sinatra is easy to sing, and you may accidentally come across as classy. On the other hand, it's always fun to dedicate "Lady is a Tramp" to any woman in the bar, whether she's your wife or just some random chick in the corner who looks like she'd spread her legs for a quarter.
9. "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks. Most guys have friends, or are themselves, in low places. This is an easy and generally well-liked song that conveys that message.
8. "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling" by The Righteous Brothers. I'm sure I don't need to say anything else about this one.
7. "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers. This is an easy one that everyone knows, and there ain't a woman in the world who doesn't like a man who know when to hold her and when to fold her.
6. "Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen. How delightfully saucy a karaoke song we have here. Also a good one to dedicate to the wife or any random chick in the bar, regardless of bottom girth.
5. "Build Me Up Buttercup" by The Foundations. This one allows you to scream a little without going too high, and the fact that it conjures up Something About Mary is sure to win the hearts of many.
4. "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash. Most guys can do a better Johnny Cash impression than a Steve Perry impression, and the opportunity to sing "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die" should not be passed up.
3. "Roadhouse Blues" by The Doors. This a simply a great bar song that translates well into a great karaoke song.
2. "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond. There is not a human with 46 chromosomes who doesn't instinctively yell out "bah bah baaa" when "Sweet Caroline" is playing. And the "touching me touching you" parts tend to encourage male-female contact, which is a positive.
1. "Livin' On a Prayer" by Bon Jovi. Even though it has some high parts that many men can't hit, it usually doesn't matter because everyone in the room is signing along.

Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Anything I glaringly missed?


Anonymous said...

So where does "I believe in a Thing Called Love" fall into the "know your limits/falsetto" & "no duets" rules?

GMYH said...

Thanks for your question.

To answer it, first, "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" is not a duet, so it clearly falls outside that rule.

Second, as far as the know your limits/falsetto rule, obviously I'm not Justin Hawkins (no one is), but my falsetto was serviceable enough that strangers at Piece told me I rocked, so I assume that's within my limits. I'm not saying you have to be perfect (it's karaoke after all), just that you should not screech.

"Under Pressure," on the other hand, was an entirely different monster. There was one rule I forgot to mention in this post, which is perhaps the most important rule of all: KNOW THE LYRICS TO THE SONG YOU'RE SINGING.

Anonymous said...

I fucked up 'Photograph' so badly one night, I'm not going to be able to listen to it for YEARS. Too bad your list of rules wasn't around 4 months ago to save me...

gregerson said...

Your list is far superior to the one offered by AskMen.com. I would add "Jack and Diane" and "Talk Dirty To Me", but maybe that's just me.

Justin S. said...

"What I Like About You" by the Romantics is my stand-by. The women love it.

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