Underrated Tunes of the Karaoke World

Ah, karaoke! The great equalizer! Education used to be the great equalizer but then everybody was like, “Ew, gross, when will I ever use math?!” …Then the economy crashed because nobody understood math. Now everyone consoles themselves the same way: with karaoke!

I love a karaoke night. Strangers become backup singers and fans and schmucks you root for, even though they brazenly put in ‘S-S-Sudio’ without realizing they didn’t know the verses.

In recent years, karaoke has become pretty mainstream. I guess we’ll credit Lost In Translation? Listen, don’t make me do research. I’ve just noticed that karaoke has become about as common as bowling. Even the occasional workplace function will encourage employees to let loose with a night of belting ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart.’ So it’s important to master this craft. Everyone knows what songs they hate hearing at a karaoke bar (lookin at you, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’). The trick is finding the song everyone didn’t know they were hoping to hear!

Lucky for you, I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time and money in karaoke bars. My mother is super proud. Sure, I attempt to do songs off The Bodyguard soundtrack more often than I should considering my limited vocal range, but for the most part, I think I might know how to pick ’em. Below is a list of songs that have pleasantly surprised and consistently gone over well.


If you and your friends are too shy to go it alone and are looking for a group song, give ‘Lady Marmalade’ the night off and pull this lil’ number out of your back pocket. Everybody has almost forgotten it by now but once it begins, they’ll remember every word.

Bonus: Ham up Baby Spice’s British accent for the “be a li’ul bit wisah baby. Puh’ i’ on. Puh’ i’ on.” line.


This is a good way to kick off the night. No warm up required. Even with a limited vocal range, you’ll hit every note like a boss. Plus, if you’re like me and feel uncomfortable every time you have to say the word for a genital, this song is well within your raunch comfort zone, don’t worry.

Bonus: Know your cue for when it’s time to yell, “Get on your bikes and ride!!!”


Read your crowd. By that I mean, there should be a crowd for this song. Don’t make the two guys who showed up to your birthday party early and haven’t grabbed a drink yet listen to you sing a song about touching. Wait until the room is full and I promise this song will make everyone want to warm up their vocal chords.

Bonus: Bring the drama or Celine Dion will jump through a mirror and strangle you.


This is a good, mid-evening song. People are generally feeling pretty nostalgic at a karaoke bar so tickle their late ‘90s, studded belt side and seduce them with some Harvey Danger.

Bonus: Since we’re being nostalgic, sing the radio edit version and cut “damn” from the “god damn you” line.


I was a major skeptic of this one. The first time I heard it come on, I leaned over to my friend and said, “oh god, I hate when people put in sad, serious songs.” Literally 15 seconds later, we were all, everyone in the bar, singing every word at the top of our lungs. It’s called “Karaoke Therapy,” guys!

Bonus: If your secret crush is present, sing it directly at them for the duration of the song so that your friends have something memorable to gossip about.


Sometimes people try so hard to find the perfect song for the audience that they forget they should be looking for the perfect song for themselves. Did that hit close to home? It’s okay, it’s not your fault. Let’s hug.

The best karaoke performance I ever saw was from this tiny girl in a pants suit who had come with her coworkers from what I assume was a stuffy accounting office or law firm. She looked pretty shy and nervous. Then she started singing ‘Kiss’ by Prince. She knew every word and every note. I don’t think she even looked at the screen. She wasn’t hamming it up, just being genuine. At the end of the night, we all fought to put her in our pocket and take her home with us.

Bonus: You do you, but don’t do totally you. Never go full you. Save your heartfelt rendition of ‘Arms Wide Open’ by Creed for the bathroom mirror and the bright red lipstick I assume you repeatedly, haphazardly apply while you weep into the mirror singing this song.


This goes over best if you are Charles Barkley and then Boys II Men join you on the stage half way through.

Bonus: (See Charles Barkley link above)

Those are the songs that have worked for me, what about you? What songs have you found worked surprisingly well? And don’t say ‘November Rain.” Just trust me that, no matter what you think, you are not pulling that song off.

Image from Lost In Translation via blog.bloomspot.com

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