November 6, 2011 7:46 PM Subscribe
Etiquettefilter: During karaoke, what's appropriate when a song contains, e.g., a racial slur? Should you sing the lyrics as written? Substitute some other term? Not sing anything? Does the answer change depending on context - i.e., out with friends in private room, friends in public room, etc.? Specific instances discussed inside.
posted by slide to society & culture (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I was out doing private room karaoke in NYC with a bunch of friends this weekend. One person selected "Gold Digger," which includes lyrics like: "I ain't saying she a gold digger, but she ain't messin with no broke niggas." The lyrics on the screen changed it to "broke bros," which is what some of my friends sang. Others used the original lyrics. The same term came up in Kanye West's Monster and Cee Lo Green's Fuck You.
Slightly different, one of my favorite songs is the Pogues' Fairytale of New York. It includes the lyric: "You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, happy christmas your arse and pray god it's our last." That lyric typically shows up on the screen. The difference is that "niggas" in the first paragraph is not being used pejoratively, while "faggot" in the Pogues definitely is.
Neither are terms I ever use in conversation, but when I sing along to songs or do karaoke I use the original lyrics as I'm used to them and think they sound better - at least when I'm out singing with friends or by myself. Were I out with business colleagues, I'd probably avoid such songs or - if such a term appeared - not sing it. But for whatever reason, the substitutions in the gold digger lyrics and how my other friends reacted has made me wonder if my context-driven decision is correct, or if there is some absolute position I should be following in all situations.