Looking for karaoke options (tone-deaf, bad singing voice, testosterone)
October 18, 2021 12:54 PM   Subscribe

I would like suggestions please for songs that I will enjoy singing and people will enjoying listening to even though I'm not good at singing. Thank you!

Sometimes I end up a karaoke, which is great in some ways because I love singing! BUT, I am very bad at it. Please take my word for this; I'm not looking to be told "everyone's voice can be beautiful" or similar, trust me when I say my singing voice is just not pleasant to hear. Many many people have been telling me this for decades, I'm sensitive about it, please don't try to argue about this.

THAT SAID I would like to be able to participate in karaoke! What are some good song options for someone who is tone-deaf, not pleasant to listen to, and also I've been on testosterone for a couple of years and my voice cracks a lot? I used to be a mezzo-alto but now God knows what I am. If it's helpful, I can talk pretty fast so patter songs might be a good choice? Part of the problem is that am sufficiently tone-deaf that I often can't even hear how bad my singing is (but sometimes I can, and it's...not good).

In terms of songs, I like stuff from the late '90s/early 2000s (if it's helpful I graduated from high school in 2002), but older or later stuff is fine too, I have broad taste. Right now I think my best idea is "No Diggity" by Blackstreet which is good because I know all the words anyway (but maybe it's actually a bad choice?). Mostly, I'd like to find something people are excited to hear at karaoke, even though it's not hard to sing.

I am so grateful for any suggestions you can provide, thank you!
posted by an octopus IRL to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have never heard anyone do "No Diggity" at karaoke but would be delighted to hear it!
posted by cakelite at 1:05 PM on October 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

Well, the obstacle is the way and all that, so why don't you take what you consider to be your harsh-sounding performing voice and perform a song that'd benefit from that. Some people are probably going to suggest The Pogues for this, but I don't know enough songs to point you towards one.

I cannot carry a tune, but can carry a rhythm, so my own go-to (and my suggestion for you as it's always a crowd-pleaser) is "Intergalactic". I think that would fit a "patter song"?
posted by rpophessagr at 1:07 PM on October 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Everlong by Foo Fighters.
posted by vrakatar at 1:40 PM on October 18, 2021

A non-musician friend said that he'd only be able to be famous after Cake stops performing because there's only so much room in the world for "talk over music" performers. To be fair their vocals do have a bit of a tune to them but I feel like one could very easily pull off a variation of Short Skirt, Long Jacket or The Distance with a monotone voice.

Now what's interesting is that style of music almost sounds like an lounge singer if you look at it funny. Now I don't mean to insult the guy Wikipedia calls "one of the greatest musical artists of the 20th century" (there's no citation for that remark) but couldn't you take something like My Way and turn it into a spoken word piece?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:42 PM on October 18, 2021 [6 favorites]

My best friend always sings "Cars" by Gary Numan.
posted by matildaben at 1:45 PM on October 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I forgot - the official music video for Short Skirt, Long Jacket has a couple of people hating on the lead singer's voice so you know it's a great fit for those of us who can't sing!
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:48 PM on October 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

Once in a Lifetime!
posted by babelfish at 1:53 PM on October 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Have you tried "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:54 PM on October 18, 2021

If your singing is not technically strong, then your karaoke strong suit is probably joy and a great sense of humor :) and perhaps a dash of nostalgia/crowdpleasers.

One Week? End of the World As We Know It? Whatever your high school radio anthems were?

Bonus for these where everyone knows the sung chorus: the right crowd might join in, freeing you of responsibility
posted by february at 1:59 PM on October 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

Couple of options:
Bust a Move by Young MC
Whip It by Devo
Sad But True by Metallica (you just kind of shout). If your voice breaks too much - it'll sound bad, like this - Jason Isbell
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:02 PM on October 18, 2021

This situation calls for Beck's "Loser." You don't need to sound good for the chorus and it's impressive if you know all the words and can get them out without stumbling.
posted by daikaisho at 2:04 PM on October 18, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you so much for the suggestions so far, these are great! I should note that I am also very good at memorizing song lyrics which I know is not actually necessary for karaoke but is helpful for songs like One Week which, I regret to say, I already know by heart (on preview: also Bust a Move, that song rules).
posted by an octopus IRL at 2:04 PM on October 18, 2021

Short Skirt Long Jacket by Cake. Minimal actual singing, people will join in with you on the “I want a girl with a short skirt and a looooooong jacket” part, everyone has a good time.
posted by ActionPopulated at 2:05 PM on October 18, 2021

I'm On A Boat by Lonely Island. It mostly involves shouting and jumping around. Very fun. You can encourage everyone to sing along with the T-Pain part.
posted by bedhead at 2:07 PM on October 18, 2021

Oh, and Old Town Road! Range is minimal, everyone loves Lil Nas X, and it’s good excuse to make ridiculous horse moves.
posted by ActionPopulated at 2:11 PM on October 18, 2021

War Pigs by Black Sabbath

This is a crowd pleaser. I can't sing for shit but I can growl out metal passably. Not much range is needed and rough singing will suffice.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 2:15 PM on October 18, 2021

2nding Beck's "Loser."
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:22 PM on October 18, 2021

You might have to be my age +/- 2 years but I Want You by Savage Garden is good for this kind of thing, especially if you also don't like to move around a whole lot - ideally you want to sing the verses without hardly moving your face at all if you're going for the effect in the video.
posted by mskyle at 2:30 PM on October 18, 2021

I don't have specific song suggestions for your voice, but singing popular stuff will make people happy even if you suck at it. Like I wouldn't suggest doing ten minutes of "American Pie" or anything, but people will always perk up at "Love Shack" (not suggesting it since it's a duet, but that kind of example) or Queen songs....

Actually, my karaoke DJ friend was running "Karaoke Bingo" this summer by listing popular karaoke songs/artists. I have a few of the sheets lying around, so the stuff he had on there was: Pina Colada Song, Valerie, Sweet Dreams, Don't Stop Believing, Oops I Did It Again, Shake It Off, Purple Rain, You Oughta Know, I Will Survive, Killing Me Softly, Santeria, Love Shack, Proud Mary, Sweet Caroline, Before He Cheats, I Want It That Way, My Way, I'm Too Sexy, Tainted Love, Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Bohemian Rhapsody, These Boots Are Made For Walking, You've Lost That Loving Feeling, Drift Away, Ice Ice Baby, All Star, Lean On Me, Margaritaville, Desperado, Fly Me To The Moon, I'm Yours, Party In The USA.... you get the idea. Crowd pleasers. Even if you stink, people are probably singing along in their heads anyway.

Also, most people at karaoke are not pros, musical theater singers, etc. They are pretty understanding of those who are not terribly good at it, because a good chunk of them are not that good at it either. I've seen people who are totally flat, who can't get the rhythms right, and still get cheered.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:03 PM on October 18, 2021

It'll depend on the crowd, but I have brought the house down by nailing all the verses to White and Nerdy.
posted by btfreek at 3:38 PM on October 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

'Teenage Dirtbag' is my go-to for this! You can definitely do the whole thing as essentially a dramatic monologue.
posted by wattle at 3:47 PM on October 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

'Steal my Sunshine' by Len is crowdpleaser that doesn't need melodic skills.
posted by ovvl at 3:50 PM on October 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

William Shatner has done some dramatic "spoken" songs, and his version of Common People with Ben Folds is right on the nose for this.

My favorite karaoke song is Only the Good Die Young, by Billy Joel, which lends itself to shouting and also to crowd participation.
posted by gideonfrog at 4:04 PM on October 18, 2021

AFAIC, “Just A Friend” by Biz Markie is the epitome of “Melody eludes me but I must SIIIIING”
posted by epj at 4:08 PM on October 18, 2021 [6 favorites]

Blur, Parklife. Do the monologue (in a solid cockney if possible) and get the crowd to pitch in for the chorus.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 4:48 PM on October 18, 2021

While Bust A Move was often my goto, especially with older (like me) audiences, another good one with fewer lyrics is Fight for Your Right to Party because depending on the crowd you can do it a few different ways. The one that plays big around here which is a more rural area is Wagon Wheel which is a little sing-y but also a real crowd pleaser, catchy chorus.
posted by jessamyn at 5:50 PM on October 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Fun karaoke songs for bad singers (depending on your audience a bit):
Bust A Move
Fortunate Son
Killing in the Name Of
Blank Space
Daydream Believer
Classic duets are always fun if you can get a friend to join (I Got You Babe, Don't Go Breaking My Heart, etc).
posted by emd3737 at 6:21 PM on October 18, 2021

I would just do the songs you know by heart.

If in doubt, do a B-52s song that features Fred Schneider prominently.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:55 PM on October 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you find yourself in a country situation do "Phantom 409" by Red Sovine, it's an entirely spoken thing
posted by TimHare at 9:23 PM on October 18, 2021

Don't look back in anger by Oasis, works every time because everyone is singing along.
posted by SageLeVoid at 11:37 PM on October 18, 2021

posted by Carravanquelo at 4:22 AM on October 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Isn't Bob Dylan the definition of this?
posted by oceano at 10:04 AM on October 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Tom Waits is a great choice for those of us who can't carry a tune even with handles bolted to it.

Burma Shave might be a good one, or if your tongue is nimble maybe Step Right Up.
posted by Lexica at 12:41 PM on October 19, 2021

If you can do One Week, another in the semi-spoken rap vein is Rappers Delight. This video of Sandra Bullock pulling it off is a thing of joy and suggests to me that you do not need to sing in order to perform.
posted by Erinaceus europaeus at 4:08 AM on July 23, 2022

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