Back this week with karaoke advice to carry you through the weekend, it’s Duets–your very own karaoke advice column where there’s only one rule: Absolutely no “Don’t Stop Believin’”.
Send your karaoke queries and quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What's your take on the protocol of performing English songs in karaoke while in a foreign country? Before singing in Peru two nights ago, I asked the waiter if it was bad form at his bar for American tourists to sing American songs instead of choosing from the huge Spanish section of the book. He insisted I would be fine, but I didn't quite buy it.
I admittedly don’t have a ton of experience in foreign country karaoke (sadly, no one sang Björk when I spent hours at that karaoke bar in Reykjavik), but this most certainly differs from place to place. Let’s say you’re in the true karaoke birthplace: Tokyo. Those guys expect to hear you do American classics, so go for it and blow them away. (Tip: go for some international crossover pop bangers.) Other places, like Peru, might be more amused in having you mangle a classic in their native tongue – but just know that no matter how fluent you just may be, any karaoke singing will betray you. Expect giggles and eye-rolls, but even so, you’ll earn that on-the-house beer.
White people should never attempt to karaoke-rap, right?
Well, for the most part. No one wants to hear you do “Baby Got Back,” ever, so cut that out. If you know what you’re doing, taking on hip-hop karaoke can reap big rewards – but it works out so rarely in a public karaoke setting that it’s hardly worth it. Either you haven’t quite mastered the lyrics, the cadence or (and this is a might dreaded or) the karaoke track is out of sync. This not only happens way more often than you’d imagine, but if you don’t know the words by heart, it’ll quickly throw you and the entire song off. Because hip-hop songs are often so fast-paced, this is a quickly-growing karaoke epidemic. Beware!
PLAYLIST: Rap Songs Songs You Just Might Be Able to Pull Off
Cam’ron, “Hey Ma”
Grab a friend for the choruses and take on Cam’s relatively slow ode to getting dome.
Positive K, “I Got A Man”
This call-and-repeat duet is one of rap’s finest.
Ja Rule ft. Ashanti, “Always On Time”
Another rap duet, this one’s great for impressing those ‘90s babies.
Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland, “Dilemma”
And just one more rap duet for the lovers.
Flo Rida ft. T-Pain, “Low”
Shout-out to my friend Dennis, who used to kill this Apple Bottom Jeans classic every week. Why? Well, among other things, he sang it so often he had the words memorized.
Pretty much anything Will Smith...
...Okay, except for 2009’s “Switch.” You don’t need to do that to yourself.
OutKast, “Hey Ya”
Because everyone knows this people-pleaser.
City High, “What Would You Do?”
Another one where people love the singalong chorus, but it’s up to you to master the verses.
Eminem, “Lose Yourself”
See how many times you can fit in “mom’s spaghetti”.
Nicki Minaj feat. 2 Chainz, “Beez in the Trap”
A good chorus lets you easily find yourself a winner, just in case the verses leave you tongue-tied.
Lindsey Weber is a Los Angeles-based writer and karaoke professional. Send all your karaoke questions to email@example.com.