I'm a little teapot isn't going to cut it...
June 22, 2012 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a karaoke song that fits my personality and musical abilities!

I am a singer. A real-honest-to-goodness-legitimate singer. So it galls me that I can sing all of Beethoven's 9th Symphony from memory, or dazzle a cocktail party with a French art song... but I can't karaoke to save my life. I'd like to find something at the intersection of my personality and musical abilities that would let me successfully perform at karaoke!

Personality: I am a late-20s gay dude who could probably be typecast as Leaf Coneybear from 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I'm silly with a healthy dose of awkwardness. I'll never be a hair band rocker or a lothario or a cowboy. I find it very difficult to be "serious" when performing.

Vocally: I'm a dramatic tenor/heldentenor with a darker timbre than I'd really like, but a quick and flexible voice. When I try for the really bright lyric tenor sound, I just end up sounding whiny. My range is C3 to C5.

Musically: I'm about 250 years behind on pop music, so I'm ill-equipped to figure this part out on my own. I do like some modern singers, but they translate terribly well to karaoke. Joni Mitchell. Janelle Monae. Robyn. So not a ton of help there. Whomp whomp. Fairly familiar with Broadway, though. So there's that. But the things I like from Broadway are rarely available in karaoke collections. Sad trombone.

Help me rock the mic, MeFi!
posted by jph to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have some friends that are classically trained, one of whom is a dude... so I can tell you some of the things he sings sometimes that are crowd pleasers generally.

Lionel Richie's "Hello" or in that same vein but faster, and perhaps more fun "All Night Long"

Or for some epic crowd participation with a late 20's crowd R. Kelly's ">"I Believe I can Fly"

OOH, or! Seal's "Kiss From a Rose"

Now I want to karaoke!!!
posted by Quincy at 2:54 PM on June 22, 2012

Boo. Screwed up the link for I Believe I Can Fly, but you get the idea.
posted by Quincy at 2:55 PM on June 22, 2012

Very few people can do justice to Elvis Costello or Mayer Hawthorne. But it sounds like you could.

Don't know if it counts as pop, but Cee-Lo Green's stuff?
posted by Prof Iterole at 3:06 PM on June 22, 2012

Very few people can do justice to Elvis Costello or Mayer Hawthorne. But it sounds like you could.

I would be thrilled if someone sang "Alison" well at karaoke night!
posted by Quincy at 3:09 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I saw someone do the Seal song mentioned upthread recently at karaoke. It killed. I seriously recommend it if you actually can sing it.

Mefi's own "Help, I can't stop talking!" usually rocks Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" and it's always a show-stopper.
posted by hermitosis at 3:30 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hermitosis' comment made me think of Queen's "Love of my life". Done well = stunning!
posted by Prof Iterole at 3:40 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry, but why won't a Robyn song work? I once did Dancin' On My Own and it was a hit!

The best karaoke songs are ones you are really into, so why not pick something you like and go with it?
posted by too bad you're not me at 3:46 PM on June 22, 2012

Everybody loves Hall & Oates these days, so "Method of Love"
posted by rhizome at 5:52 PM on June 22, 2012

Seconding Hall and Oates, but if you really want to wreck a room full of karaoke fiends, break out Rick Astley.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:50 PM on June 22, 2012

If they let you do a capella, go right ahead with the Ode to Joy!
posted by brujita at 8:01 PM on June 22, 2012

Karaoke places vary widely, so it might not be you: it might just be your venue. If you're a cabaret kind of person, don't sing in dive bars with beer-and-a-shot specials. Go to a bunch of different places and find the place you feel most comfortable as an attendee: that'll be the right place for you to sing. I don't care how good your "Greatest Love of All" is: you're not going to win anyone over with it at Dude's Roughhouse Country Inn.

That said, I can tell you that my favorite karaoke stars are entertainers, not performers. That hurts the classically trained: they're expecting to wow everyone with their incredible vocal skills, but most of that talent is completely wasted in karaoke. One, the sound system is usually complete shit; two, everyone is almost assuredly too hammered to pick up on any nuance; and three, almost everyone in the room is there to sing and too entirely wrapped up in their own dreams of superstardom to marvel at your ability. If you want to be a karaoke great, you need to pick songs that you like, know inside and out, and-- most importantly-- are crowd-friendly.

Since there's usually lots of overlap between Broadway and Motown fans I'd first recommend "Under the Boardwalk": it's got a great call-and-response chorus that everyone knows, plus it's been covered so many times you can tart it up as much as you like without too much trouble. You could also try "My Girl" (which also has plenty of audience participation) or "Let's Get it On" (which doesn't, but is made for hamming it up).

If that's not your thing and you really want to stick with Broadway, go Disney. It's tricky because most of the really well-known Disney songs are either duets or sung by princesses, but if you don't mind going cross-gender and making a spectacle of yourself it can be a riot.

That's really the key: karaoke is about everyone having fun, not just you. Get out into the crowd, make them sing with you, be lively. Once you get used to working the room, then you can start doing one for the audience and one for you, which is where it gets really good.
posted by eamondaly at 10:04 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you're trolling for sing-a-long, just perfect "Sweet Caroline" or "Rocky Mountain High". You might be the only person who can sing them on pitch as written.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:39 PM on June 23, 2012

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