Help Me Be More Than One Hit Karaoke Wonder
April 5, 2011 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Help me find another song that I can sing WELL for karaoke.

I hang out with a lot of people who LOVE karaoke even though I rarely sing in public. Mainly this has to do with the fact I'm an alto, and I'm a bit self conscious about that when other women singing have gorgeous sopranos. For some reason, a few weeks ago I was out with friends and randomly decided to sing Nancy Sinatra's These Boots Are Made for Walkin'. Not only was the key perfect, but the audience really got into the song (so did I). Random people were complimenting me, and I did really enjoy it.

Now people/friends are now asking me about doing OTHER songs. If I get up and sing something new, I don't want it be a let down so, help me out with song suggestions.

Here are some guidelines:

1. Similar key to These Boots are Made for Walkin'

2. Fairly short song with no/few musical breaks

3. It's the type of song that seems to get the crowd going. Even older songs like, Rockin' Robin or The Copacabana seem to rally the crowd if performed well so the time period isn't important, but I definitely prefer song that will get the crowd into it.
posted by miss-lapin to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Beast of Burden always works for me. Even better if you can get someone to duet with and riff off of... those ohs and gravels kill.
posted by likeso at 7:30 PM on April 5, 2011

Best answer: Fever (original Peggy Lee version; Beyonce cover) is great if you're willing to play it up a bit. Anything by Joan Jett would be awesome, as would I Want You to Want Me.

This earlier AskMeFi list and this one might also be of interest.
posted by rebekah at 7:42 PM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Might be difficult to find, but what about Funnel of Love (also I love that cover, they are rockin' out).
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:01 PM on April 5, 2011

Blondie is awesome. The songs do go all over the place sometimes, but they're pretty popular.

How about something by the Go-Gos? Vacation? Our Lips Are Sealed?

The Indigo Girls are fairly low, if you can stand to do a solo version of songs that tend to be duets. Closer to Fine is a favorite.

You may want to learn some good torch/vamp songs. Maybe not the super-most-popular at the bar, but you can ham it up. How about Whatever Lola Wants from Damn Yankees?

Anything dirty-ish is a favorite, even if the bar doesn't know it. I would highly recommend I Touch Myself and early Liz Phair, particularly H.W.C. (nsfw!)
posted by Madamina at 8:36 PM on April 5, 2011

Brass in Pocket? It's always been my dream to sing this at karaoke, and I was crushed when Scarlett Johansson did it before I could.
posted by Judith Butlerian Jihad at 8:41 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could try Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon. Not nearly as overplayed at karaoke as Sweet Caroline and people have really responded when I've sung it. The gender switch-up could make it even more awesome.
posted by otolith at 9:23 PM on April 5, 2011

Best answer: It sounds like we have similar voices! Things that work well for me:

I Love Rock & Roll
Son of a Preacher Man
Midnight Train to Georgia
Proud Mary
Total Eclipse of the Heart (LOVE this one. Sometimes it's a bit high, but I usually sing at karaoke places where you can adjust the pitch)
posted by Bella Sebastian at 9:51 PM on April 5, 2011

Fiona Apple, Criminal. Awesome song in a low range. And who doesn't like purring out that great opening line?

"I been a bad, bad girrrrl."

I also like doing the White Stripes' Fell in Love with a Girl. It's fairly low, really fast, and the switched-gender really lends a great innuendo to the line "Bobby says it's fine, he don't consider it cheating."
posted by duvatney at 9:57 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Had an ex who was in a similar situation. She went with a heavy dose of Stevie Nicks and Bonnie Raitt with a side of Linda Ronstadt.

Best of luck to you, karaoke can be tough with the self consciousness. Yet so rewarding.
posted by Sphinx at 9:58 PM on April 5, 2011

I really like PJ Harvey's "Dress." Just deal with the quick instrumental part, and dance to music!
posted by XhaustedProphet at 12:36 AM on April 6, 2011

I like the Dusty Springfield idea, she had a beautiful lower voice. Also you might want to look into Burt Bacharach songs like "The Look of Love," which Dusty Springfield also did so well. Nancy Sinatra also did "Something Stupid" (with her father, which was a bit weird), but is a fun duet. And continuing the walking theme, how about "Walk Like an Egyptian." That would be a fun one to perform.
posted by Ellemeno at 1:27 AM on April 6, 2011

The Man Who Sold The World
Any R.E.M.
posted by rhizome at 3:28 AM on April 6, 2011

Best answer: "Warwick Avenue", "I'll never forget you", "Different Drum", "Why don't you call me?", "You Gotta be", "Dancing Barefoot", "Take Your Mama", "Bad Romance", "My Baby Just Cares for Me", "Fly me to the moon", "Take me to the river", "Perhaps, Perhaps,Perhaps", "Picture This".
posted by rongorongo at 7:23 AM on April 6, 2011

Best answer: It's funny, I would think an alto would have a much easier time finding great karaoke songs, seeing as how rock music is filled with women with sultry or growly deep voices on one side, and men with unusually high voices on the other.

One song for a voice like yours that in my experince has never failed to bring down the house is Total Eclipse of the Heart... especially if you can really growl the "every now and then I fall apart..." Along the same lines, Love is a Battlefield usually rouses the ladies at least.

Personally, I'm more fond of Joan Jett, and if you want to stay away from hoary favorites like I Love Rock N Roll, you could go with "I Hate Myself For Loving You" or her bad-ass cover of "Crimson and Clover." Anything by Chrissie Hynde or Patti Smith should also be in your range.

If you're karaoke crowd grew up in the 90's, Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Throwing Muses, or, more obviously, Liz Phair. On the brit-pop front, Elastica's Connection or Republica's Ready to Go would bring back memories. Can you really belt? I heard a girl do Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet" once, and it literally knocked me on my as.

On the other side of things, an alto can just as easily do songs by artists like Bowie -- Under Pressure would be a popular choice, Man Who Sold the World is another good choice. Violent Femmes are an option -- Blister in the Sun, or course, or Add It Up.

My personal suggestion, as this song always, always, always gets people riled up, is Laid, but James -- as long as you're cool with that one falsetto note (you think you're so prett-eeeeeee...) the rest is comfortably in an alto's range.
posted by patnasty at 9:44 AM on April 6, 2011

Best answer: don't know if this is helpful, but I'm kind of a weird mezzo-soprano (spent years taking a teen soprano and forcing it to do Paul McCartney = losing some high notes in exchange for some tenor ones) and my signature piece is "Proud Mary", in kind of a CCR/Tina Turner blend. Everyone likes it - I even sang at a boss's birthday party with a live band, and I'm totally not that talented otherwise. And lots of places have it.
posted by dust.wind.dude at 10:22 AM on April 6, 2011

Definitely look into Heart or Pat Benatar: both are fairly low and have plenty of crowd-pleasers in their catalogs. Brittney Spears is mostly alto, as is Lady Gaga and a good chunk of Madonna.
posted by eamondaly at 12:31 PM on April 6, 2011

Leader of the Pack by the Shangri-las. That or Give Him a Great big Kiss might be cute if you get a version with half the conversational bits included.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:42 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

One other singer with a good match to your range and style preference is Bobbie Gentry. "Ode to Billie Joe" is the one everybody knows -but check out MISSISSIPPI and her version of Hushabye Mountain amongst others.
posted by rongorongo at 6:09 AM on April 8, 2011

Ugh, I need to mix it up too. I always do You're So Vain, by Carly Simon. Always goes well, and is sung in the lower part of the voice.
posted by imalaowai at 6:57 PM on April 8, 2011

Response by poster: So last night I sang at Karaoke again. I did "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" and, actually a song that wasn't suggested here, "Holding Out for a Hero"-Bonnie Tyler. Everyone loved those songs. Again random people coming up to me and telling me how amazing it was. Even one person, an actor who has known me for years, stopping me to tell me he never realized how talented I am.

Since I was trained as an actor, doing a song like "perhaps, perhaps, perhaps" is perfect because I can also vamp with the audience, which also helps get the audience into it.

Admittedly the bridge in Holding Out is a bit high, but it's a song the audience gets into so if you cheat a little (but just a little) they don't seem to mind. (It also helps that I sang this second song near the end when everyone was in a pretty convivial mood anyway.)

It's great that now I have a bunch of different songs I can use. Thank you Mefi!
posted by miss-lapin at 7:24 AM on April 15, 2011

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