We Asked

The Karaoke Songs We Need to Stop Singing, According to Bartenders

‘Just a small town girl, living in a loooonely world!’
November 3, 2017, 12:00pm
Photo via Flickr user star5112

If you're like me, choosing a karaoke song can feel like choosing a first-day-of-school outfit back in high school: you know you'll be judged, and there's pressure to choose something crowd-pleasing but also a look you can "pull-off."

If you ask bartenders, our idea of what we can and can't pull off is pretty distorted. Sure, most of us love Queen and Adele but, apparently, singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" or "Hello" is like showing up to your first day of class in a fedora. You just shouldn't do it, and no amount of beer/tequila/weird neon shots is an excuse.


For the sake of increasing singer self-awareness and preserving the sanity of bar staff, VICE compiled a list of the karaoke songs we need to stop singing already. Spoiler Alert: Journey made the list. A lot.

"Gold Digger" by Kanye West. Promotes far too many white douche bags dropping the n-word on stage and laughing about it. - Kaleigh, 24

"Zombie" by The Cranberries. Drunk people always think they're being edgy with the choice but it's way more overdone than you think and, in practice, turns into a surefire way to find out just how much they can sound like a screaming goat. - Ali, 25

"Hey Jude." Can we not nah nah nah for 18 bars? - Jessica, 29

"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." - Francesca, 21

A bar in our area demands $20 straight into the tip bucket if anyone wants to sing "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen or "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey. They got tired of hearing them butchered. - Emily, 27

PLEASE NO MORE "FANCY." - Stacia, 30

People who sing Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" as a joke while they slam beers on stage. - Jess, 28

"Picture." Sheryl Crow. Kid Rock. Please. Stop. - Alisha, 36

"Wonderwall." Jesus Christ! - Rebecca

Do I even need to say "Don't Stop Believing"? It's the one song every drunk person thinks they know every word to and can sing flawlessly and just stop already. - Erikk, 28

Baby. Got. Back. For Christ's sake PLEASE include "Baby Got Back" on the list. No more man. No more. - Brock, 31


Anything by Whitney Houston or Queen. No one and I mean NO ONE has a good enough voice to sing those. - Jess, 25

I'm a karaoke DJ and I have to say the following: Hi I'm David, I'm your KJ tonight and before we begin I'm sorry to announce that we are all out of "Don't Stop Believing," "Creep," "Sweet Caroline," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Rehab," "Love Shack," 'Baby Got back," "Ice Ice baby," and Beyoncé. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience this might have caused you, please enjoy the rest of your day. - David

Definitely "Picture," "Landslide," "3 AM," anything by Alicia Keys, "Don't Stop Believing," ugh so many. - Margo, 33

"Wanted (Dead or Alive)" by Bon Jovi and "Love Shack" by the B-52s. I can no longer stomach even the original versions." - Shannon

"Sweet Caroline," "Sweet Child of Mine," anything with 'sweet' in the title, really. - Daisy, 35

Benny and the Fucking Jets. Also, "Piano Man." - Cheyenne, 23

"Girl Crush." If they drink Mich Ultra and dress too upscale for a honky tonk, this song is definitely chosen and I'm sick of hearing it. - Shelby, 22

"Chandelier." No one can hit those notes. I don't care how drunk you are. Just don't. - Jamie Lynn, 34

"Bohemian Rhapsody" and "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" My dad did karaoke for years and those are two songs I love but they hurt my ears to hear a drunk asshat singing. One kid sang " fight for your right, to get high" once and changed all the words. I wanted to cry for the Beastie Boys. - Amanda


Anything from the Grease soundtrack. Makes me cringe. - Danielle, 33

"Sweet Caroline" has almost this cult following to it. Everyone just joins in to make it look like they're having a good time. I join in on the shouting to make myself seem like I'm socially accepted, but in reality I hate that song and I just wanna drink my beer in peace without some white guy getting all masculine all over me, with his polo and Sperry's shouting in my ear. We've also heard so many people sing Adele and there is truly one person who can sing it amazingly and I mean… wow!… Her name is Adele. If you're not her, you're not allowed to sing it. - Gregory, 25.

"WAGON WHEEL." - Asia, 24

All of them! I don't understand the need to sing some horrible "classic" to a room of strangers! - Shauna, 38

"Hungry Like the Wolf." - Georgia

Hipster guys sloshing cans of PBR around singing "House of the Rising Sun." Get on your fixed-gear bike and pedal off, douche bag. - Kara, 35

"Bohemian Rhapsody," any Disney song, people who try to rap Eminem but miss 90 percent of the words, "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, "I'm Gonna Be" by The Proclaimers, "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore, "Killing in the Name Of" by Rage Against the Machine, "Wonderwall" by Oasis ETC. ETC. - Jess, 24

"Wrecking Ball" or "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." Or any Journey song. - Meagan, 25

"Tribute Song" or anything by Tenacious D. Stop attempting rap unless you can actually do it, and, I love Journey, but karaoke has killed "Don't Stop Believing" - Justin


Anything by Frank Sinatra or Show Tunes. - Ryan

"Picture" by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow. Nine times out of ten, one of the two cannot sing. Period. It just becomes a mess of trying to harmonize with someone who is goddamn tone deaf. Also, "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor. Yes we get it, you are over his/her loser ass, you are strong and independent! You don't need a man/woman! Try some Beyoncé. - Morgan, 36

"Tainted Love," "Tainted Love," "Tainted Love," once more for luck, "Tainted Love." - Rhys

"American Pie" …it never stops! - Denielle, 35

"Juicy" by Biggie Smalls and "Changes" by Tupac. White guys will rap these songs and say the n-word quite shamelessly. Like it's OK because it's a song or something? - Jess, 28

Anything by Shania Twain. - Tami, 49

COUNTRY. - Sabrina, 25

Breaks my heart to say it, but Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" is usually pretty bad, which is ironic because the song pokes fun at bad karaoke with that line about white-trash versions of Shania karaoke. It's become meta in the worst way. - Mike, 25

"Brown Eyed Girl." - Amica, 35

The worst, absolute worst is when seven drunk young guys get up and attempt "Friends in Low Places" with two mics. - Jim

Guys singing "Barbie Girl." They laugh and laugh and pretend like it's so embarrassing and funny and it's never been done before and it makes me die inside. Every single weekend. Also, that "I Love This Bar" song blows, and "Friends in Low Places." And what about people who sing "Closing Time" at closing time? - Michelle, 41

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