January 11th, 2011

Listomania: The Top 10 Unbreakable Karaoke Kommandments

It’s been said that you don’t choose karaoke nights…karaoke nights chose you. Whether it’s tops on your list of fun things to do (it’s up there on mine), or the carefree crooning makes you cringe, there are certain no-nos that need to be checked at the door before you take the stage.

There’s a very thin line between rocking the mic while you kill “Paul Revere” versus losing your nerve and mumbling atonally through some obscure Eminem lark no one is really that familiar with. Not a line you want to ride there, Rabbit, especially not at The Tavern.

Being Too Drunk / Too Sober:
Another thin line to straddle is that of sobriety. A little liquid encouragement can certainly be an impetus for your rocking. However, gargling into the mic at Glitter Karaoke while trying to French kiss a potted plant and ending it all by getting pummelled by the bouncer is never the way to go.

If you’re dragged into unsolicited karaoke combat at Christian’s, hitch up your party pants, throw down a Jager Bomb and get into the groove. You’re in it to win it now, so quit trolling for ways to escape on your text machine, and at least heckle the guy that decided to ignore #7.


Duets…By Your Lonesome:
Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock. Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. Tina Turner and Ramstein. Ok, that last one hasn’t happened yet, but probably only because the public psyche can only take so many musical pairings. Don’t make it worse by trying to take on both parts of “Islands in the Stream” at PJ’s.

Everyone at one time or another has thought it was just the cutest damn thing imaginable to say the “Musical Break-8 Measures” part embedded in karaoke songs with a lyrical lull. Well it’s not, and neither are your spoken-word attempts at rallying the crowd or launching your stand-up career. Unless the playlist at Mezzanine includes the soulful musings in Cooleyhighharmony, dial down the dialogue.

Songs You (Don’t) Know by Heart:
Here’s a test. Next time you’re prepping a mental playlist and you’re singing a song you “love,” have a buddy slap the power button and turn the music off mid-stream. If it’s the “End of the World” (and you don’t know it), opt for a little “Margaritaville” instead. The Cellar will thank you.


Snooty Hipster ‘Tude:
Yeah. I get it. You’re iPod selection reads like a Thomas Pynchon novel and, in general, that makes you much cooler than me. But you know what – I’m going to keep giving the good people at The Usual what they want. I’ll keep Hootie and those canned Cure songs that every member of Generation X absurdly claims as their own, while you sullenly ponder the merit of The Capes.

Songs You Can’t Carry:
When Chris Tucker nailed “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” in Rush Hour 2, it was funny. Your attempts to nail the guttural majesty of James Brown or the high-register dog whistling of Mariah Carey are not. Simon says you are not going to Hollywood so go grab a seat at Big Woodrow’s.

Karaoke Kamikaze:
So the guy sucks. It’s obvious. He’s breaking the rules of the Karaoke Kingdom left and right and, truth be told, the crowd feels kind of bad for him. However, at no point is it cool to burst on stage in a fit of tequila-inspired bravado and “help out.” No need to dive bomb the guy on stage at The Shiloh Club when when he’s already committing songbird seppuku.


Chunking the Deuce:
You’ve chosen a song you only thought you knew, or the entire room is spinning all of a sudden (see Kommandments #9 & #6) thanks to that last red snapper at The Drinkery. Don’t go runnin’ off to try to stop the bleeding, because that will just open the floodgates of humiliation. Stand. Your. Ground. For that, the Karaoke Gods will smile upon you.

— Tea Jones


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