Everything You Need To Know To Step Up Your Karaoke Game
So everybody’s talking about “Girls” and Lena Dunham’s amazing Golden Globes’ win and blah blah blah, voice of a generation. But we want to talk about something else: Lena Dunham’s karaoke choices. Last week, New York magazine interviewed the cast of “Girls” about their favorite karaoke jams. (and karaoke played a major role on last night’s second season debut). Their real-life choices were far from inspiring:
Allison Williams — “It’s a long one, but it’s ‘Faithfully,’ by Journey. It builds, and by the end, everybody’s asleep, so they need a pick-me-up … A lot of the pop songs today are so challenging, I wouldn’t even endeavor to do them.”
Lena Dunham –“I only did karaoke once, and I did ‘Who Will Save Your Soul?’ by Jewel, which is a tough song … it’s hard. Hannah’s would be something off of Jagged Little Pill, by Alanis Morissette. I love her, Hannah loves her. Or Taylor Swift, if you wanted to go modern.”
Jemima Kirke — “I like to sing a little Loretta Lynn. ‘Rose Garden.’ I just sing it good. It’s the only song I can say that I know I can do.”
While we abide by Loretta Lynn, what’s up with Journey? Really? Come on Allison Williams. It sounds like the “Girls” girls could use a little advice from our friend and karaoke columnist Lindsey Weber. I know first hand that Weber is a karaoke aficionado, skilled with a microphone — and with critical song choices. Says Weber, the worst people at karaoke clubs are “the people who are just there to sing their own songs and have no patience or enjoyment for other peoples’ karaoke. I call them indignant karaokers.” Don’t be one of these people! The reason karaoke singers need to support their fellow crooners, says Weber, is because karaoke is like self-help. “Wanting to go somewhere and sing your heart out is total therapy.” And as such, “It’s understandable that you need to get it out of your system sometimes. But, karaoke should be a group sport!” After all, there’s no “I” in karaoke.
So, advises Weber, make sure to read the crowd. After all, “Even if you sing what you wanna sing — and you should! — you’ll be upset if the crowd hates it.” Like, don’t try and do an’ 80s ballad if you’re in a room full of people who were born in 1992. “Just take note of who is singing and what’s working — sometimes your audience just doesn’t want to hear Demi Lovato no matter how much you want to sing it.”
Even so, no song is off limits, if you do it the right way. Although Weber holds a personal grudge against Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” — mostly because it’s the longest song ever and singing that long is ‘just rude.” And always, always, advises Weber, “Tip your karaoke jockey. It’s a tough job!”
With that, here are some of our karaoke faves and tips:
I avoid anything I don’t really know the words to. Makes for boring karaoke. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is one I always nail.
One of my go to karaoke songs is “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s a great song by a great, oft-karaoked band, but isn’t the overdone “Freebird.” I also sing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” or “Walkin’ After Midnight,” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me,” and if I’m feeling really ambitious, Queen’s “Somebody to Love.”
“Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This” by the Eurythmics. “Sober” by Tool. “Animals” by Nickelback. “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” by Celine Dion. One of the best karaoke performances I’ve ever seen was a couple of frat guys doing “Orinoco Flow” by Enya. It kind of changed my life.
I’ve never done karaoke. But if I did, I would probably sing “Tainted Love.”
I have made too many mistakes trying to do my favorite rap songs, so from now on, I’m sticking to timeless ’80s and ’90s pop jams like “Freedom ’90” by George Michael. And unless you’ve got professional-level breath control, never, ever try Destiny’s Child “Say My Name.” Oh! And anything by Fleetwood Mac is great.
So now it’s your turn: What’s your go-to karaoke jam?