Posts categorized “Mob Rule”.

The Perfect Karaoke Song

Here’s a question for ya: what is the perfect karaoke song?

Wait, don’t answer yet. Because I’m not asking for titles, the “Brown Eyed Girls”s and the “I Will Survive”s. I am asking about qualities. What are the characteristics of the perfect karaoke song?

This has been on my mind recently, as I have found myself in no less than two karaoke establishments this month. The first was the newly opened Rockbox on Capitol Hill, which features private “Japanese-Style” rooms. Highly recommended if you are willing to fork over a small fortune for the luxury of moaning “Girlfriend in a Coma” to a cadre of your closest friends. (That’s a sincere endorsement by the way–loved this place, despite the expense.)

Then, a week later, I found myself in the Baranof. The Baranof is the kind of joint where your table receives complementary jello shots if the bartender discovers that you are celebrating a 40th birthday, and the waitress will sort of creepily massage the shoulders of the birthday boy while he chokes his down (don’t ask me how I know this). The Baranof also had a nautical theme, which fit in well with a karaoke system that made everyone sound submerged.

So anyway, I am clearly qualified to opine on this question. And after careful analysis of the songs I think work well at karaoke, conducted this morning between my second and third cup of coffee, here are what I believe to be the attributes of crowdpleaser:

Short: Brevity is not only the soul of wit, it is essential to not being remembered as “the guy who sang ‘American Pie’ for an hour and a half”. I think four minutes is about the maximum before you start to wear out your welcome. That excludes “Bohemian Rhapsody”, FYI.

Not too obscure …: Unless there’s a specific person in the crowd that you are trying to impress with Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Snow Song Pt. 1″, save it for the shower. If the audience wanted to feel dumb about their lack of musical diversity, they would be in a hipster bar instead of a karaoke bar.

… but not quite a standard: The ideal selection is one that makes people excitedly exclaim, “oh yeah this song!”. And that ain’t gonna happen with “Sweet Caroline” (a song I have personally heard wafting out of more karaoke bars than radios). I recently had great success with Dobie Gray’s Drift Away, a song that eveyone in the crowd knew but had forgotten. A friend of mine gets a similar reaction with Blister in the Sun.

Wall-to-wall vocals: Beware the “36 measure instrumental”! Unless you can bust a passable move during the guitar solo, try to find a song that doesn’t contain vast swaths of downtime for the singer. My recent experimentation with “Jessie’s Girl” will not be replicated, as much of my performance involved lallygagging on stage with nothing to do. Especially dangerous are those songs with an interminable outro. You will spend the last minute of “Burning Down the House” agonizing over whether to sit down or just stand there like a chump.

Distinctive: Pick something that you can do well and most cannot. “It’s The End of the World As We Know It” is one of my staples, because it can only be performed by someone who has memorized the lyrics (as I have). My ability to pronounce (though not, alas, understand) Spanish is an asset for “La Bamba”. And even though my delivery of Radiohead’s “Creep” is shaky overall, I have the long, wailing, “Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!” part down pat.

In your range (even if not of your gender): “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” is exactly in my range (and, like “Creep”, has a memorable belt-out-the-sustained-note bit at the end), which is why I will pick Pat Benatar over the male-but-way-too-high Steve Perry any day. A female friend of mine, meanwhile, does an amazing Bon Jovi. Do not assume that you can automatically sing tracks by artists of your sex, and must forego those of the other persuasion. Which brings us to …

Requires as little falsetto as possible: Your falsetto does not sound even remotely as good in the real world as it does in your head. Someone explained this to me after I attempted “Take on Me”. Learn from my mistake, guys.

Is not Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”: Just … yeah, no. It’s awkward.

What am I forgetting?

* * *

Update! Two from the comments, to make this an even 10:

Is appropriate for the venue: So says Laura. “For instance, I might consider performing Reba McEntire’s ‘Fancy’ at a place like Changes. I would NOT perform the same song… um… anywhere else.”

Doesn’t have a chorus that repeats ad nauseam: While I agree with latenac in principle, it’s always fun to watch the panic creep into a singer’s eyes as he urges the crowd to “Take it to the limit, one more time” for what is in fact the seventh time (and with no end in sight).

This one also rules out Daft Punk’s Around the World, which is a shame.

Ask Your Doctor if Satiation™ is Right For You

Scientists have invented a pill that that allows you to live without eating, drinking, or excreting. Unfortunately it not only eliminates your desire to eat, it also ensures that you take no pleasure when doing so.

Question: Would you take the pill?


  • Taking the pill is a one-time event. Once you swallow it you are set on “no eating” for the rest of your life, no take-backs.
  • Those who take the pill never again feel hunger, thirst, or any other food-related sensation.
  • The pill produces a fixed # of calories a day, so your weight would depend entirely on your activity level.
  • The pill doesn’t prevent you from ingesting substances. It guarantees that you feel no desire to do so, and that you will derive no enjoyment from the actual act of consumption (e.g., nothing would taste “good” to you), but you could still, say, consume intoxicants for their effects.
  • Yes, you get to keep all the money you would have otherwise spent on food.
  • There are no impending apocalypsii or food shortages on the horizon (i.e., survival shouldn’t factor into your decision).

I put a considerable amount of thought into this question the other day, and finally decided (a) I would take the pill, and (b) within six months I would probably regard eating as an almost unendurable burden.

Secret Service

“Look, I promise to never take your ‘secret’ path to the oval office. Can I please just open my eyes?”

Provide your caption in the comments. Photo and idea swiped from kokogiak.

The Scene You Hate

A friend, having read my last post, asked if The Queen really objects to botanical inaccuracies in movies. Oh yes, yes indeed. And not just in motion pictures, either. If I’d known, in advance, that the TV show LOST would feature a bunch of people on a tropical island populated with temperate foliage, I never would have put it in my Netflix queue.

Of course, I’m just as bad when something I’m passionate about is misrepresented on film. Like games, for instance. I still break into hives whenever I think of the scene in Freaks and Geeks where the parents play the card game Pit, just the two of them.

But my all-time least favorite scene–one that appears in about every third film, seemingly–has to be this one:

The hero and the antagonist are playing chess, a game in which both are virtual grandmasters. It's a close fought match, and they banter while they play. Slowly, their moves--and their conversation--become more aggressive. Eventually they are openly hostile to one another, both on the board and off.

Then, victory. Smirking, the villain says something irrefutable to the hero, moves a bishop, and announces check.

For a long moment the two men lock eyes. Suddenly, the hero utters a devastating riposte, breaks eye contact just long enough to capture the bishop with his queen, and, with the slightest hint of a smile, declares checkmate. He rises from his chair and walks briskly away, leaving the loser to gawps at the board in amazement.

Yes, I understand that one grandmaster saying “I’m going to checkmate you in seven moves” followed by 23 straight minutes of the opponent staring at the board before replying, “ah, you are right–good game” lacks some of the “pizzazz” of the Hollywood version. But I still would rather sit through both episodes of Viva Laughlin, back-to-back, than endure this scene again.

What’s the scene you hate?

Mob Rule: Belatedly Yours

Here’s a question I’ve been carrying around in my head for months. I’ve been meaning to send it to The Ethicist, but since it’s been a while since I’ve opened comments on a post (and you guys are clearly in search of a thread to brawl in) I guess I’ll just toss it out here.

Dear Teh Intire NetarWeb:

Say you have a friend with a glaring character flaw, something that drives you crazy. Tardiness, for example. Always shows up late for everything, and walks in the door making excuses. "Lost my car keys. Google maps was wrong. Couldn't find parking," et cetera, and so forth.

So one day you are meeting your friend for a movie. And, as always, he shows up late. Late enough that you're certain to get the crappiest seats in the house--somewhere in the first row, no doubt.

"Traffic was terrible," he says as he arrives, to forestall your objections. But this is the final straw. You read him the riot act, call him to the carpet, tear him a new asshole--pick your favorite cliche. "Why do you keep doing this?!" you yell. "It's just as easy to be consistently on time as it is to be consistently 20 minutes late!!*" He, of course, keeps insisting that it's not his fault, but you'll hear none of it.

(* I actually hollered this at a friend once...)

Well, it's worse than you imagined: 28 Weeks Later is totally sold out by the time you get to the boxoffice, and you have to go see another movie instead.

Afterwards you decide to go to a bar together--not because you are friends again (you're both still totally pissed), but because you made the mistake of seeing Georgia Rule and now have no choice but to consume enough alcohol to retroactively blackout the entire evening. While you sit there silently fuming in T. J. McDrinkies, pounding greyhounds, the local 10 o'clock news comes on. Top story: a semi jackknifed on I-5 a few hours ago, bringing traffic to a virtual standstill.

Your friends looks at you expectantly. Do you apologize?


P.s. to those using the comments to offer me advice on dealing with my “friend”: this really is a purely hypothetical situation–one that occurred to me last week when I was caught in a traffic jam and showed up late to a movie.

Mob Rule: Grammarama

I posted this question to a discussion group and it incited a veritable brawl:

Which is grammatically correct: “I have had sex with each and every member of Avenged Sevenfold, one of the bands that [is|are] part of Ozzfest 2006.”

No consensus was reached, so we can settle the matter once and for all, right here on this humble little webpage. Fight!