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‘Karaokeable’ songs

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AUGUST 22, 2023

Last weekend I went to karaoke with some friends.

And it wasn’t the American-styled karaoke in which some brave soul volunteers to perform on stage.

No, this was a classic Japanese-style karaoke night in which a group of friends reserved a private room to embarrass themselves. The only other people allowed in were servers to bring us some liquid courage.

With a familiar audience, you’d assume that singing would be easy. It is easier for sure with no stage fright. But the song selection proved tricky.

I learned a salient lesson that weekend: A song you enjoy listening to might not be one you enjoy singing. 

This also applies to songs you enjoy dancing to. My first mistake was “Levitating” by Dua Lipa. Trying to say, “I had a premonition that we fell into a rhythm” is hard enough sober, and when — not if — you mess it up, it throws off the rest of the song.

“Dancing Queen” by Abba was much easier. The lyrics are simple, straightforward and you can dance and sing.

As for the songs that are more about singing, well, we ran into another problem. Surprisingly, average people don’t exactly have the same angelic voices as Adele or Lorde. I tried “Summertime Sadness” by Lana del Rey, but could not hit the notes the same way. 

One possible solution to this is picking silly songs. These warrant a category of their own, and it includes hits like “Let It Go.” Even if you’re not Elsa, singing along to this is fun on its own! “Barbie Girl” by Aqua is another of the silly greats, as the music video is hilarious.

Songs by Guns N’ Roses and Metallica were surprisingly easy choices. That type of classic rock has plenty of instrumentals, which translates to a lot of time to catch your breath. With not too much to sing, you can focus on the vibes and chill. By that I mean jumping up and down to “Enter Sandman,” but everyone has their own definition of fun.

The opposite of that are songs such as “Rap God” by Eminem — too little sound, too many words. Unless your hobby consists of reading rhyme dictionaries at 100 words per minute, steer clear of attempting this song.

The best songs are those in the middle. They’re made for you to dance, but not that much. It has vocals, but they’re easy. The balance between instrumentals and lyrics is just right. Most of all, you need a catchy hook. Something recognizable, easy and fun.

Some of the best songs that night were “Can’t Tell Me Nothing’”by Kanye West, “Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne, “Grenade” by Bruno Mars and ‘“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen.

There were others, but you get the idea. Pop songs from the 2000s and 2010s are the best. Funnily enough, aren’t these songs what so many people call their “guilty pleasures”??”

I think that’s dumb. Enjoy your musical pleasures unabashedly, especially when you’re singing along with your friends.

Contact Rafael Arbex-Murut at 


AUGUST 22, 2023