Alright, let’s do a quick hand count. Do you karaoke to showcase your singing prowess or to show your drunken dexterity? Would you rather be known as the karaoker who wowed the audience by hitting every single note or would you be known as the entertainer remembered for botching up lyrics, doing a banana split and sending the crows away on exile to a land far, far away? Most importantly, would you select an obscure mellow song that only you could relate to or an upbeat popular number like ‘Bye bye bye’ by Out of sync erm….. Nsync that really sent the crowd into rapture.
As much as it pains me to say this, I fell in the former category. Even though I managed to woo the crowd by singing lesser known numbers, I always felt that something was missing. I felt this void in my long illustrious karaoke-ing career within the confines of many a Bombay club. The thought lingering on my mind was that even though people would applaud, were they entertained? I couldn’t help but feel that something had to give, which is why I ran an experiment not too long ago at Sante by picking a classic 90s track that you might have heard before, by the name of ‘I want it that way’ by Backstreet Boys. The rest as they say was history.
Since then I’ve made a conscious effort to pick drunken crowd pullers that would make people hit the dance floors and bring out the invisible mics. Here is my list of the 12 most popular drunken karaoke crowdpullers that I’ve heard echoed within the walls of Mumbai’s most electric nightspots and that I will be trying out at a club near you, in the not so distant future.
1. Backstreet Boys – Everybody:
A drunken karaoke night without a Backstreet Boys reference just feels wrong. This one is an all-time classic that also in a way resurrected Backstreet Boys as the pop icons of the late 90s. The best part about this song? Everybody knows the lyrics, so if you’re a little shy on the mic, you’ll always have a crowd of enthusiastic 90s teeny boppers backing you up.
2. Coldplay – Fix you:
This has to go down as one of the most butchered karaoke songs of all time, especially when the interlude kicks in:- “Tears stream down your face” (quite literally). I wonder if Chris Martin wrote these lyrics and composed the vocal line keeping karaoke crowds in mind. Having said that, this track is entertainment personified, considering the fact that it often starts off with a drunken dedication to ‘bae’.
3. Adele – Rolling in the deep:
Even though this might not be one of the most upbeat karaoke tracks, it is certainly a favourite of the ladies.
4. Guns N Roses – Sweet Child O’ mine
This track is generally picked by the rocker with the long hair, piercings and tattoos. Another extremely difficult tune to sing, this one is hit with the older crowd. My personal favourite part is the “Where do we go now?” bridge, which of course climaxes into glass-shattering falsetto shriek. Keep that cup of brandy or lemon and honey tea(for the non-drinkers) ready beforehand. Make sure the cup is made of plastic though.
5. Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby
Such grooves, such moves, you’ve gotta bring out the dancing shoes. The hilarious thing about this track is the fact that everyone only knows the chorus. The verse for the average listener goes like this “All right Stop, bade bang bade baba, lagadaga lagadaga lagadaga gaga………………… Ice ice baby.” If you’re more of a Hindi Karaoker, you can opt for Indian rapping legend, Baba Sehgal’s rendition of this track instead, called ‘Thanda thanda paani’.
6. Oasis – Wonderwall
This makes all the late 80s, early 90s kids reminisce. This track also for some reason is a group favourite. Generally a minimum of 5-6 people walk upto the mic to sing their lungs out. The crowd gets in on the act and the purist directs these words at the Karaoke host:- “Maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me”, subtly asking him/her to put the mics off.
7. Spice Girls – Wannabe
When it comes to nostalgia, Spice Girls is to girls is what Backstreet Boys is to the boys. I struggle to remember a single karaoke night out without this song being requested for. Beware, the rap part by Scary Spice is extremely tongue twisting.
8. Chumbawamba – Tubthumping
Since this song is all about “pissing the night away”, it would be very difficult to exclude this from this list. Upbeat, fun & headbang worthy. Word of warning : Don’t even try to follow the words on the screen while performing this. Just enjoy your drunken-ness and get knocked out, but then get up again, cause we’re never going to keep you down.
9. Beatles – Hey Jude
The Beatles transcend age, culture, sex and all other psychographics/demographics. Whether you’re happy or sad, a 60’s or 90’s child, single or married, man or woman, nothing is going to stop you from singing the outro: nananananana nananana, hey jude. No prizes for guessing what the trolls in the crowd sing though.
10. Bryan Adams – Summer of 69
The incredible part about this song is its popularity in India, which explains why Bryan Adams in the twilight of his career made a living out of just touring India. The intro riff of this song on karaoke nights throws the audience into a frenzy and brings out all the air guitars. Everyone’s an expert air guitarist during this song, and for good reason.
11. Bruno Mars – Uptown funk
One of the more modern entries to this list, but certainly a crowd favourite. With feel good lyrics, an extremely catchy bass line and a vintage classic dance inspired vibe to this song, it’s hard not to groove to this track. In fact, I challenge you to not groove to this track.
12. Aqua – Barbie Girl
And last, but certainly not the least, this famous 1997 duet makes it to my list just for the sheer fact that if you’re singing this in front of 150-200 odd people, we know you’ve got a lot of alcohol running in your blood. If you’re as lucky as I am, you might have even heard one person try to take on both, Barbie & Ken’s parts at the same time. The deadly combination of alcohol and karaoke for some reason seems to bring out the hidden schoolgirl in a lot of men.
At the end of the day, the worse you are at singing, the better you are at Karaoke. Also, the drunker you are during karaoke, the better you are at karaoke. So in a nutshell, here’s my karaoke math lesson for the day:-
Alcohol = Drunky time = off pitch singing + entertainment = legendary karaoke-ing
It’s really not about how you sing, but about the theatrics, the drama, the passion, the exuberance and the ability to get a crowd going that separates the best from the rest. Don’t believe me? I’m going to be trying my hand out at some well-timed theatrics while singing the tunes listed above, in an attempt to impress the ladies at the Ladies Night at Boveda on 20th January. If you can drop in and
egg me on, cheer me on, it would definitely make my life a whole lot easier in my attempt to be the best karaoke-er in Mumbai (and get some brownie points from the ladies. Perks of being good karaok-er you see.)If you’re not arsed about my karaoke career, ladies (yes, it’s ladies night), drop in anyway, I hear they’re selling unlimited drinks paired with a delectable appetiser. After all, you will definitely need to be in high spirits to enjoy my rendition of ‘Barbie Girl’. 😀
PS: Men, you get to stay home and play some PS3. Win-win!
If I’ve missed out on any popular drunken karaoke tracks or if there’s something you’d like to hear me sing, drop in your requests in the comments below or get in touch with me on Twitter at @doshmeisterr. Until then, “uptown funk’s gonna give it to ya, uptown funk’s gonna give it to yeah. Don’t believe me just watch!”