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By Sarah Lewitinn Simon Spotlight Entertainment
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
TOP 5 FAVORITE KARAOKE SONGS TO PERFORM TO A REDNECK AUDIENCE
Frank Sinatra Night and Day
Doobie Brothers What a Fool Believes
Tina Turner Proud Mary
George Benson Masquerade
R.E.M. It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
To me karaoke songs are one part drunk vocal obstacle course and one part comedic impression. Of course I really enjoy watching the guys and gals get up there and take the shit seriously. The home for karaoke in my town (Denton, Texas) is the notorious and glorious Sunset Bar & Grill. A redneck lite-beer-drinking crowd, always boisterous and always belligerent, peppered with the most flamboyantly gay and vocally gifted host and his alternative lifestyle crew. "Where my gay boys at? Where my lesbians at?" he screams. The redneck/gay boy/girl combo is always a great time leaning toward the bizarre. Last time we went, my friend Phil was asked, "You wanna redneck ass-whoopin'?" He responded, "No." (Good answer.)
Singer, The Veils
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE KARAOKE SECRETS
Limp Bizkit Nookie
Metallica The Unforgiven, Pt. II
Toni Braxton Unbreak My Heart
Metallica St. Anger
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band Turn the Page
The secret to great karaoke is to choose a song that means something to you and means something to the people around you. That's why Justin Reynolds and I chose to perform Limp Bizkit's timeless "Nookie" at a Korean karaokebar in the Summer of '06. Because it's raw, because it's honest, because it's vital.
Patrons ruminating over which dreary standard to bang out got more than they bargained for that night, as two juiced-up bulldogs crisscrossed the stage like Hogan and Warrior in their prime, spitting those words that meant so much with a venom belying their comfortable upbringing and moderate success with women.
That's what karaoke's about. No ego, no bullshit, no boundaries. Three and a half minutes that were ours and ours alone. Our riff, our blood, our love. Believe.
TOP 5 FAVORITE KARAOKE SONGS TO PERFORM
Sir Mix-A-Lot Baby Got Back
Commodores Brick House
Duran Duran Girls on Film
Bobby Brown My Prerogative
Skee-Lo I Wish
Many people don't know this, but my very first band was actually a rap group. Our crew was called JJ's Van, referring to my parents' minivan in which I would cart my friends around through the streets of New Orleans. We would write rhymes about how much money we had, how many girls sweated us, and, of course, our pimped-out minivan. We were the trailblazers for today's mainstream, shitty rap. This was before the days we could afford a home studio, so we would record our songs on a Sharper Image karaoke machine over other people's music. None of it could be released, obviously, because we were actually recording over the full instrumentals from well-known top 40 artists. This was my first introduction to everything from recording to karaoke. People tend to stick to the song they're supposed to be singing, but even to this day I pull out the old school JJ's Van rhymes when tearing the roof off of the local karaoke bar. They're still not very good, but hey, karaoke isn't supposed to be good.
TOP 5 FAVORITE KARAOKE SONGS TO PERFORM AT A TIKI REST
Bruce Springsteen Born to Run
Meat Loaf Paradise by the Dashboard Light
Don McLean American Pie
Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven
When my best friend, Alex, was running Eyeball Records out of his house in Kearny, New Jersey, we used to take all our bands to a Hawaiian Island-themed karaoke place for its tiki-flavored ambiance and 3000-proof Zombies. The owners apparently didn't understand the notion of indie rock, so they treated us like Bon Jovi. We would rage to "Born to Run" by the Boss and "Mother" by Danzig. The unwitting middle-age couples would get a choir of drunken hardcore kids backing them up on "American Pie." Then suddenly the dream was over. Alex was closing out the night with "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," sung from the balcony. A mini-riot broke out between a bunch of Jersey bodybuilders in the back. Piebald, My Chemical Romance, and the rest of us were suddenly in the middle of a movie style smashup, complete with splintered bamboo and broken walls.
Singer, Fall Out Boy
TOP 5 FAVORITE KARAOKE SONGS TO PERFORM AND WHY
Bobby Brown On Our Own
Michael Jackson Rock With You
New Edition Boys to Men
Journey Any Way You Want It
R. Kelly I Believe I Can Fly
My first pick is "On Our Own," from Ghostbusters 2 with love. Any rap with the word "proton pack" is a surefire hit.
"Rock with You" wasn't as big a hit as "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," but if you want to stretch your falsetto and hit on girls in that shy/early Michael solo/sequined-jumpsuit kind of way, this is your jam.
"Boys to Men" is a true rarity and I've never actually seen it on a karaoke list, but it's my favorite New Edition song. Johnny Gil killed it...so likely it's a bad idea to cover, but fuck it.
And I had to throw on at least one very obvious, very legit karaoke hit. Here it is: "Any Way You Want It." It's karaoke duh incarnate.
"I Believe I Can Fly": This is the closer. End of the night, way too many drinks, way too little inhibition, you go for the Space Jam.
DJ/Fashion Stylist, DCMA/MADE
EIGHT OF MY FAVORITE KARAOKE SONGS TO PERFORM
Oasis Roll With It
The Lemonheads Into Your Arms
Bob Marley Is This Love
The Clash The Guns of Brixton
Rancid Time Bomb
Green Day Macy's Day Parade
Human League Don't You Want Me (double points for duets)
Celine Dion I'm Your Angel (double double points for Celine Dion songs because she is a robot)
When I moved to New York City I knew three people: a guy named Steve Feinberg, MC Chris, and his DJ, John Fewell. One night a few months after I moved to the city, I met a short, energetic, devilish sweetheart named Sarah Lewitinn and immediately decided that we were twins that had been separated at birth. From the minute I met her she took me everywhere, or I followed her, and that's pretty much how I remember my life in New York starting. I don't remember being born, but I remember everything about this time.
One evening the call came, as it did most every night, and I was given the address of some place on some street downtown and a time to show up. I mentioned MC Chris before -- well, at this time he was sleeping on an air mattress on my studio apartment floor writing his second record, and I told him to put on his shoes and come with me. I've never been good at showing up alone.
Upon finding the location we were directed to an eight-foot-by-eight-foot room in the back, crammed with about twenty people, none of whom I knew, and Sarah. It turns out the occasion for celebration was the birthday of one Lawrence Lewitinn, who, being the honored guest, decided that upon entering the room you must immediately pick a song and sing, no questions, go. I must be honest, I knew what karaoke was, but I'd never done it, I'd never wanted to, I didn't want to then....
A little-known fact about me is that I can sing any Frank Sinatra song as well as Ol' Blue Eyes himself; I am so good it's embarrassing. I mean, I've got to be honest with you, I scare myself, I'm so good. So I walk in the room, I punch in song number 4736, and for the first time ever I sing "Night and Day" in front of twenty perfect strangers. I did it so well that I got a boner and pooped in my pants a little.
Since that night, I sing that song every day, in the shower, and Sarah, Lawrence, and Frank are forever some of my favorite people. I love most every song Frank Sinatra ever sang.
Copyright © 2008 by Sarah Lewitinn
Excerpted from Pocket Karaoke by Sarah Lewitinn Copyright © 2008 by Sarah Lewitinn. Excerpted by permission.
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