Extensive field research went into this week's New Timesfeature story highlighting South Florida's local karaoke scene, and some of that research was quite painful. Not only did I embarrass myself onstage but I watched several innocent people mangle songs that should never, ever be performed outside of the shower.
These are songs that breach eight minutes, songs that require you to possess rhythm that you do not possess, and songs that are so slow and cloying that your audience will be either asleep or getting sick.
Ten of the worst offenders follow below.
10. "Strokin'," Clarence Carter. Stop being a pervert. It has never been funny.
9. "Before He Cheats," Carrie Underwood. Almost no one can sing this well; the melody is deceptively complicated. Try Dolly Parton instead.
8. "With Arms Wide Open," Creed. All Creed songs should be banished from karaoke, but I actually witnessed the crowd at Whiskey Tango ignore a man who had the nerve to sing this. Afterward, the DJ prohibited ballads for the rest of the night.
7. "Man Down," Rihanna. Let this song be the poster girl for all rap songs: Do not attempt them unless you are extremely confident in your rhythmic ability. Even then, it's iffy.
6. "Bohemian Rhapsody," Queen. Unless you're attending your cousin's bar mitzvah and a circle of 13-year-olds is swaying in unison, no adult should go anywhere near this song.
5. "American Pie," Don McLean. This song is more than eight minutes long. That's all you need to know.
4. "Ice Ice Baby," Vanilla Ice. See number 7. Remember, there is only one white boy who can pull this off.
3. "Defying Gravity,"Wicked. This is not Glee, and you cannot fly. Broadway veterans find this song challenging. Please don't make the rest of us suffer.
1. "Baby Got Back," Sir Mix-a-Lot. It's long. It's repetitive. No serious karaoke singer can stand it. As Kevin Wells, a Little Munich regular, put it: "It's always little girls giggling, and it's a train wreck."