Karaoke is like candy. It's a guilty pleasure that's relatively harmless -- unless you go sing "My Way" in the Philippines. The loud backing tracks and onscreen lyrics, wiped clean of any explicit content, have become a ritual for the overworked and underpaid.
While karaoke used to be limited in song selection, current artists like Pink, Lady Antebellum, and Kings of Leon now frequent the pages of the songbook. Of course, let's not forget the classics. With a book the size of a dictionary, people still choose "Don't Stop Believing" or "Black Velvet."
For some, karaoke is an art form. People get so into it that it's almost like watching a live performance. A few minutes in the spotlight and boom, they're hooked. If they sing well too, it's a bonus.
The key to picking a good karaoke song lies in knowing the crowd. Keep them happy by picking songs that will get good reactions. Plus, some songs work better at the start of the night, and others work better toward the end, when people are less sober and easier to impress.
Here's a fun little breakdown of some karaoke songs guaranteed to get people excited.
Song: "Any Man of Mine" by Shania Twain
Why it works: Every man in the crowd will think you're talking to him. The lyric "any man of mine better walk the line" can be danced out easily, and there is a lot of opportunity in this song to let your dance moves outstar your singing. "You gotta shimmy shake" and "heel to toe, do si do" are examples of this literal expression.
Song: "Crush Crush Crush" by Paramore
Why it works: It lets you use your cool rocker voice. The line that goes "I got a lot to say to you, yeah I got a lot to say" can be enhanced by quietly saying it and then gradually getting louder toward the "they taped over your mouth, scribbled out the truth with their lies, you little spies" part. Be aware that karaoke versions sometimes alter words, and this line could end up being something weird if you don't know the original words. When the "crush, crush, crush" line comes, you can get closer to the mic and let your voice echo.
Song: "Brown Eyes" by Lady Gaga
Why it works: Gives you a chance to show people Lady Gaga is more than her creative costumes. She does have an amazing voice and this song brings out her softer side. The song is perfect for anyone who is trying to move on from a past relationship and can't seem to get beyond their adorable gaze. The line, "in your brown eyes, I was feeling low, 'cause they're brown eyes and you never know" may get you weepy-eyed if you're already a little emotional about someone.
Song: "Mercy" by OneRepublic
Why it works: It's hard to go wrong with pop crooner material like OneRepublic -- especially if you perform it with a wink and a nod. This song could go in a spiritual direction based on the line, "angel of mercy, how did you find me? how did you pick me up again?" or it could be more literal, like an angel of a person rescuing you from yourself -- or you could just beat your chest a lot and time a forced cry for the second chorus.
Song: "Fuck You" by Cee Lo Green
Why it works: Who doesn't love making a curse word harmonic? This is a fun song with a Temptations feel. Plus, the heartbreaker gets what's coming to her in the end. Gives you ample opportunity to role-play and make intimidating facial expressions. "I guess she's an Xbox and I'm more an Atari" describes the dynamics perfectly. This song is for all the broken hearts out there.