I lost my virginity at the tender age of 19 after impressing a grown woman by fucking nailing Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell" at karaoke. (True story. I can assure you she did not cry for "More, more, more.") Ever since then, I've understood the power of karaoke. It can turn any of us, if just for a bleary moment, into a superstar.
That's why I can't understand a couple people I've talked to recently who said they've never done karaoke because they can't sing. Singing is the least important part of karaoke—in fact, the only way to do karaoke wrong is to sing well. Boo to that, I say: This is karaoke. If we wanted to see talent, we would be watching The Voice. Karaoke is not about talent but failure. It's about celebrating that we are all losers, that maybe we weren't the coolest, or the prettiest and maybe we didn't achieve any of our dreams, but we won't let that stop us from spending the next four minutes celebrating one another in all of our beautiful individuality.
A truly great karaoke performance reveals a certain truth about the performer, and the song is merely the vehicle through which this voyage is possible. Based on hundreds of hours spent in dive bars and weird individual karaoke rooms in Toronto's Koreatown, I've learned what kind of people pick what kind of song. Here is the truth about yourself that your favorite karaoke song reveals:
"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen
You have no idea how much you expect from those around you. Your friendship is a burden that less and less people are willing to carry.
"Don't Stop Believing" by Journey
You bought a gemstone that was supposed to bring you wealth and pleasant dreams. When you had a nightmare the first night sleeping with it under your pillow, you tried to take it back, but the gemstone store had a no return policy.
"Nothing Compares 2 You" by Sinead O'Connor
Your life is a complete disaster, and this weekly karaoke night is the only thing you have left.
"Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen
You have never held a hammer in your life, but you have strong opinions about the influence of trade policy on the continuing decline of the working class.
"Hello" by Adele
You are a mom.
"Pony" by Ginuwine
You are sexy, and you know it, and you will one day give a speech at a friend's wedding that is far too explicit.
"Keep on Rockin' in the Free World" by Neil Young
You spent your life savings on a Pono player and deep down you are afraid to admit that you can't tell if the music files sound any better than a regular MP3.
"Hotline Bling" by Drake
You were one of those kids in elementary school who would pull his pants and underwear all the way down at the urinal.
"Sorry" by Beyoncé
You are a powerful blood goddess. Arisen from the moonlight, you have been loosed upon this Earth to wreak vengeance on the men who have wronged your worshippers.
"Home for a Rest" by Spirit of the West
You peaked in your first year of college.
"At Last" by Etta James
You are a ghost that has been haunting this particular bar for decades. You are waiting for a lover who will never return from a stint serving overseas.
"Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks
You have a sign on your front lawn telling the government to stay off your property.
"Can't Feel My Face" by the Weeknd
You have antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea
"My Way" by Frank Sinatra
You have been skimming thousands of dollars off your union's pension fund.
"Roar" by Katy Perry
You work at a tanning salon and have dreams of opening one of your own that runs entirely on alternative energy.
"Purple Rain" by Prince
You forgot how long the outro to this song was.
"Wannabe" by Spice Girls
You are deeply afraid that none of your friends actually like you, so you try so hard to be the most the fun, the best friend. Yet no amount of the love and care for you they return is enough to quiet that omnipotent doubt in your head, and you're getting tired, so tired.
"Enter Sandman" by Metallica
You have some very serious and unanswered questions about Building Number 7.
"Jack and Diane" by John Mellencamp
Your children haven't spoken to you in years.
"Love Yourself" by Justin Bieber
You are here to have fun and get crazy but are also celibate and deeply religious.
"Seven Years" by Lukas Graham
You are Satan himself, returned to plunge humanity into an eternity of darkness and suffering, and you're not even trying to hide it anymore.
"Don't Speak" by No Doubt
You are a hopelessly romantic pizza-delivery guy who writes sonnets on greasy, sweaty napkins while his car idles softly outside Papa John's.
"Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins
You aren't a scientologist, but you're listening.
"Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams
You just shotgunned a snuck-in beer in the bathroom.
"Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift
You run Hillary Clinton's social media accounts.
"Creep" by Radiohead
You run an online marketplace for drugs on the dark web and are fabulously wealthy but would trade it all if the barista you have a crush on would just return eye contact.
"All Star" by Smash Mouth
You have no idea where the line is, and you never have. Whether it was a joke or an argument, you've always been willing to push things until they got mean, nasty. Less and less people are willing to take it, but you don't care because you're just having fun. So you continue to recklessly insult and mock, hurting the few who still care about you the most.
"What I Got" by Sublime
Your main source of income is a YouTube channel where you review bongs.
"Sex and Candy" by Marcy Playground
You are in Marcy Playground.
"Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol
You're going to get laid.
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