I worship at the church of karaoke. The parishoners and I are there to confess and meditate, to feel welcomed by a community, to hear a good sermon or two, to perchance see someone speak in tongues and have the words of the Lord Bon Jovi be channeled through a mere mortal. And, of course, to have some drinks and venture to make complete fools out of ourselves.
Karaoke exists in a vacuum of taste, where anomalies and exceptions always seem to arise and mess with my preconceptions. Maybe, like me, this is the only time you can really tolerate a Billy Joel song. Maybe those two dudes doing Sum 41’s “Fat Lip” actually sound kinda good, or that girl who’s really giving it the old college try on “Since U Been Gone” elicits all this empathy, and dammit you can’t be mad because she’s having fun!
This list — boiled down, mind you, from literally hundreds of runner-ups — is an extension of that feeling that happens when you flip through the entire karaoke book and you don’t see one song you want to sing. After polling the staff and consulting some of my long-time karaoke buddies, these are the songs we all wish would be added to the karaoke canon that we personally have never seen before (we are excluding the deep cuts in Austin’s Karaoke Underground book).
And if it’s one thing most of these songs have in common, they’re totally depressing. Sorry. To make up for that, and in contrast to a lot of karaoke standards, a whole grip of these songs don’t require you to have a good voice. In fact, you could be totally tone-deaf and still do an absolutely kick-ass version of The Fall’s “Totally Wired” because the song isn’t about impressing Cee-Lo and Adam Levine with pitch and tone, it’s about the performance. There’s plenty more like that on the list that I felt would always be fun — songs that don’t focus on notes as much as they do putting on a great show.
Don’t fret, choir nerds, it’s not all post-punk pogo-dance chant standards. There’s plenty of new vocal challenges all over the list, from tUnE-yArDs to Jeff Buckley to Dirty Projectors to Hasil Adkins. There’s a lot more. Who knows, there may even be another list further down the road. What songs would you like to sing at Karaoke that are never in the books? Let us know in the comments.
You can access the entire list on Spotify. Enjoy!
-Jeremy D. Larson
Andrew Bird – “Fake Palindromes”
When to sing: After a couple glasses of wine to keep the voice nice and velvety. It’s a short one.
Make sure to: “Monsters?”
Animal Collective – “For Reverend Green”
When to sing: Get this out of the way early, but don’t lead with it. Avey Tare’s vocals on this are daunting, histrionic, and require full commitment or else you will be laughed off stage for singing Animal Collective at karaoke. No guarantees for that not happening anyway.
Make sure to: Differentiate between the two “Lucky child don’t know how lucky she is” parts.
Arcade Fire – “Keep The Car Running”
When to sing: Great lead-off song — not too difficult to sing, short and sweet, not too obscure, speaks for itself.
Make sure to: Totally go for it on the “Ohhhh ohhh” and punch the air on that final snare hit like a hero.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Can’t Hear My Eyes”
When to sing: When you want to sing “Brandi” by Looking Glass, but you can’t quite remember how the bridge goes, or even if there is a bridge to the song.
Make sure to: Not have a catastrophic meltdown, but you should really be laying down on the ground and arching your back over the monitors.
Azealia Banks – “212”
When to sing: After midnight, after your confidence level has peaked, after you contemplate that Azealia Banks isn’t even old enough to do Karaoke and put this song out.
Make sure to: Have this shit well-rehearsed, because the cadence of “Bet you do like to slumber, don’t you?” is not going to come to you when you’re reading it off the teleprompter. Good luck deciding on whether or not to drop the C-bomb. That’s on you.
Beat Happening – “Cast A Shadow”
When to sing: When the eyelids are heavy, and the 500 yard stare can be trained on not just anyone, but definitely someone.
Make sure to: Study/mimic Ted Leo’s performance of it at Underground Karaoke at Matador 21.
Best Coast – “When I’m With You”
When to sing: Right after you get back inside from smoking a joint in the ally and you tell that cute guy that “this next song’s for you.”
Make sure to: Ask the DJ if he can turn up that reverb.
The Black Keys – “10 A.M. Automatic”
When to sing: When you can’t quite put into feelings that guy’s t-shirt with a bald eagle on it.
Make sure to: Put a little extra spit on those vocals like they used to do.
Black Lips – “Bad Kids”
When to sing: After a round of Jager, or Car Bombs, or Liquid Cocaine, and after you tell them you’re absolutely not going to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Make sure to: Get, like, seven people on the stage.
Bon Iver – “Skinny Love”
When to sing: When you roll up to Karaoke solo, after several drinks isolated in a cold corner of the bar, and only when the weight of the world is on your heart.
Make sure to: Sulk back to your chair when it’s all over, back to your “cabin,” as it were.
The Breeders – “One Divine Hammer”
When to sing: Directly before or after someone sings Pixies – “Hey”.
Make sure to: Remember that this song is wicked filthy — direct eye contact with crowd is at your own risk. (Dudes, ask if they have the Clockcleaner version — it’s arguably better.)
Bright Eyes – “The Calendar Hung Itself”
When to sing: There’s no real bad time to sing this, the preeminent emo song of them all, but it’s more about when you have wherewithal to sing Oberst’s lyrics.
Make sure to: Render everyone so awestruck they all want to buy you a drink at the end of it — you’re clearly not in a good place right now.
Built To Spill – “Car”
When to sing: A great opener, before you’re even finished with your first drink.
Make sure to: Close your eyes by the third “I want to see, movies of my dreams,” or you’re not doing it right.
Cibo Matto – “Birthday Cake”
When to sing: In the environment where this song is an option, everyone’s going to be OK with it any time, but it’s definitely one of those songs to play if your equilibrium’s altered to the point where pitch is “optional”.
Make sure to: Get all of Miho Hatori’s eccentricities and dialect, especially the way she says “birthssday cake.”
CYHSY – “The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth”
When to sing: When you are sure that this song will burrow into the soul of everyone watching – so, late in the night.
Make sure to: Slur each and every word, purposefully or not.
College & Electric Youth – “A Real Hero”
When to sing: After (or during) a big knife fight in the back of a bar. I don’t know if this song will ever escape its role as the soundtrack to Ryan Gosling driving off into the sunset.
Make sure to: Channel Bill Murray singing “More Than This” and you’ll be on the right track.
Das Racist – “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell”
When to sing: When you want to comment on consumptive corporate consumerism to a bar full of drunk people.
Make sure to: Replace “Jamaica Ave.” with a local thoroughfare in your city to try to get the message to resonate with your audience.
The Decemberists – “Don’t Carry It All”
When to sing: When you don’t want to sing “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, but you actually kinda do. Here’s something that sounds almost exactly the same.
Make sure to: Partake in the same kind of theatrics that The Decemberists do on stage and pretend that you’re a whale and try to eat the audience. This will go over well.
Dent May – “Eastover Wives”
When to sing: When you want to sing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” but you’re never sure which of the 12 versions they’ll put on.
Make sure to: Dance your white ass off while you’re up there.
Destroyer – “Your Blues”
When to sing: When the idea of singing another Bob Dylan song seems completely “repulsive,” but you’re still not of the inclination to “sing exact notes.”
Make sure to: BYO condenser mic and hold it delicately between your thumb and index finger.
Dirty Projectors – “Stillness Is The Move”
When to sing: Get this one done early in your set – that little run up to that really high note in the pre-chorus can’t be easy after 3+ drinks. Nailing this song will win the affections of the boy in the Owen Pallett tee.
Make sure to: Remember those quiet riffs Angel Deradoorian does at the end. If you bring those out, Owen Pallett guy will definitely buy you another glass of merlot.
Dismemberment Plan – “You Are Invited”
When to sing: When you feel the tenor of the evening has taken a turn for the worse and want to relay a message of acceptance, positivity, and sing one of the greatest damn songs ever.
Make sure to: Work the crowd and tell the story – be the light at the end of all of these barfly’s nights, especially the guy who just sang “Hurt” seemingly without irony.
Elliott Smith – “Waltz #2 (XO)”
When to sing: It’s not as huge of a bummer as, say, “Needle in the Hay” or “Twilight”, but for those who like bumming people out at karaoke, this should be your go-to bummer jam. Bonus points if you bring your mother along.
Make sure to: Nail the “and on and on and on” perfectly or Howard Sims will be there with his shepherd’s crook so fast.
The Fall – “Totally Wired”
When to sing: The obvious time is after you just did some coke in the bathroom but feel free to make it a joke song — change lyric to “tired”!
Make sure to: Respect Mark E. Smith and add a supurflous “uh” after every phrase (“I’m totally weird-uh, to be wired-uh”).
The Flaming Lips – “Do You Realize??”
When to sing: Late enough and drunk enough so that you consider Wayne Coyne’s questions about universe. The precise moment this can happen varies greatly from person to person.
Make sure to: Really ask the question, every time. It’s not a rhetorical question, it’s incredulous! Grapple with reality up there.
Free Energy – “Dream City”
When to sing: When you want to sing “The Boys Are Back In Town” but the last time you did you got kicked off stage for trying to sing all three lines of the guitar solo by yourself.
Make sure to: Wear a leather jacket.
Frightened Rabbit – “The Modern Leper”
When to sing: After an unstable amount of whiskey, and after you overheard someone talk about Mumford.
Make sure to: Think about the Scottish accent, but man, don’t go all Groundskeeper Willie on it. Let it alone if you have doubts.
Fugazi – “Waiting Room”
When to sing: When you have two people who can do both Guy Piccatio’s and Ian McKay’s parts. Then, and only then, should you do “Waiting Room”.
Make sure to: Sing when you feel like the fever of the room is about at this level.
Girls – “Lust for Life”
When to sing: It’s such a short song (only a minute and 30 seconds of singing) that it needs to be early on when people might still be paying a bit of attention. No flare, just a great song.
Make sure to: Figure out how Christopher Owens does the half pouty/half whiney thing before you step up.
Gogol Bordello – “Start Wearing Purple”
When to sing: After your fifth shot of Stolichnaya, and only if you’re wearing suspenders.
Make sure to: Take off your shirt but keep your suspenders on. Also buy a round of vodka for everyone pre-song and toast the audience during the high note and you will be crowned King Gypsy-Punk for the rest of the night.
Grinderman – “No Pussy Blues”
When to sing: When you’ve squeezed the last ounce of pathos out of “Just a Gigolo”, and you’ve just gotta lay down some real talk with the bar.
Make sure to: Never unclench your teeth throughout the whole song — that’s part one of the Nick Cave impression. This is part two.
Guided By Voices – “Tractor Rape Chain”
When to sing: When you think you’re as drunk as Robert Pollard would be.
Make sure to: Elucidate to the DJ (and audience) that the word in questions is (probably) referring to parallel lines made by a tractor in a rapeseed field. Or not — your call.
Hasil Adkins – “She Said”
When to sing: After some rye whiskey, moonshine, or corn liquor.
Make sure to: Not memorize the lyrics, but memorize how Adkins says the words, which will be no where near how they are supposed to sound. The whole thing will work better if you pronounce “head” like “hayee.”
Hunx and His Punx – “U Don’t Like Rock N Roll”
When to sing: Immediately after some group of moms sings “I Love Rock Roll”. That would be great.
Make sure to: Wear a bedazzled leather jacket. Pants optional.
Interpol – “Obstacle #1”
When to sing: When you’re wearing black suit, shirt and tie, and you’re totally ready to make the same note that spans over 50% of the song interesting.
Make sure to: Import Carlos D’s New York Doesn’t Really Care swagger.
Islands – “Rough Gem”
When to sing: After someone sings Whitesnake or Dokken or Aerosmith — when things are decidedly un-twee.
Make sure to: Play air piano on those three timeless piano plunks on the chorus.
Jamie Lidell – “Multiply”
When to sing: When you want to sing Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” but don’t want to hear anyone say “Why didn’t you do the Napolean Dynamite dance?”
Make sure to: Right after you fling your leopard-print suit-jacket on and take one last sip of your dirty martini. Study up on Lidell’s dance moves.
Janelle Monáe feat. Big Boi – “Tightrope”
When to sing: Two or three times a night is totally acceptable.
Make sure to: Put in the version with the rap in it. I’m sure they have it, but you don’t want to get all “Waterfalls (No Rap)” on the mic. Also, put some voodoo on it, yeah?
Jay Reatard – “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me”
When to sing: If you’re feeling like Jay, or if you’re feeling like a tribute to Jay.
Make sure to: Have a lot of fun singing a really, really dismal, depressing song.
Jeff Buckley – “Grace”
When to sing: On a night where you truly think that you can sing this. Which means you’re a ringer and you don’t really belong at the karaoke joint, or your liquid courage has overcome your actual talent. Also acceptable: on a $50 dare.
Make sure to: If nothing else, if you punt the riffing or that high G and make Buckley roll over in his grave, just make sure you hit the last little vocal riff — it’s just too perfect.
Jens Lekman – “The Opposite of Hallelujah”
When to sing: After a glass of champagne or two, when those bubbles start to go to your head and put a spring in your step. You’ll need it for those tambourines and handclaps.
Make sure to: Mime picking up a seashell to illustrate your homelessness. You can be the crab, too, if you feel so inclined.
The Jesus Lizard – “Seasick”
When to sing: Preferably after someone sings “Piano Man”, or something really just bad. Show them what bad really means.
Make sure to: Bow/curtsey gracefully when you’re done. Expect it to go something like this. If it’s not going like that, you’re doing it wrong.
Joanna Newsom – “Inflammatory Writ”
When to sing: When you’re wearing a flowery dress and want to be the first person to sing the words “poetaster” and “ululate” in a bar.
Make sure to: It’s got the swagger of a great drinking song, so hoist your stein and rock to and fro, and sing heartily about mollusks’ weddings and writers’ block.
Joy Division – “Transmission”
When to sing: Because it’s not really a participation song and, depending on where you take it, more of a performance, doing this early in the night is advisable, odd as it may seem.
Make sure to: Not mimic Ian Curtis’ dance moves. You can’t do them, and may god help you if you get laughs. Totally cool to be inspired by Curtis, though.
The Knife – “Heartbeats”
When to sing: After everyone’s had enough clear, expensive drinks to get down to this sultry slow burner.
Make sure to: Not pick the Jose Gonzalez version and get all “Blower’s Daughter” on everyone.
Kurt Vile – “Freak Train”
When to sing: When you want to transfer your drunken ramblings from the bar to the mic. In fact, you could have never heard this song and as long as you’re all-in on the lyrics, it will be fantastic.
Make sure to: Just walk right into a cab when you’re done singing because you shouldn’t be fit to drink anymore.
Lana Del Ray – “Video Games”
When to sing: It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you.
Make sure to: Everything you do, you tell me all the time.
LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls”
When to sing: When you hear someone of any sex go, “Oh my god where did Chrissy even go?” and when you got a posse behind you to to shout “drunk girls” and “drunk boys.”
Make sure to: BYO Sennheiser 509.
Lush – “Ciao! (feat. Jarvis Cocker)”
When to sing: When you’re sick of duets that only serve to profess two people’s Endless Love for one another and you want one that’s just full of bile and vitriol.
Make sure to: If you want, play the opposite emotion, like the audition scene from Mulholland Dr!
M.O.P. – “Ante Up”
When to sing: When the “Scenario” call-and-response just doesn’t seem hard enough.
Make sure to: Go so hard. If you’re not aggro-rapping like Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame, you will fall into another terrible hip-hop karaoke performance so ante up.
Mclusky – “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues”
When to sing: When no one can see, or hear, and it’s the end of the world and you’re ushering everyone to their graves with the karaoke version of “Nearer My God To Thee”.
Make sure to: Intone “sell me to wonderluuust” like Andy Falkous does.
Misfits – “Where Eagles Dare”
When to sing: After doing a “waterfall” with your group because you signed them up for this and they’re all going to…
Make sure to: Huddle around the mic, arms around each other, and show everyone what a drunken group shout song really sounds like.
Mission of Burma – “That’s When I Reached For My Revolver”
When to sing: Since it doesn’t have the bite that some of these other post-punk numbers do, you can sing it early and embrace that final chorus in arena-karaoke fashion.
Make sure to: Not pick the Moby version. Ahh, that’s not a half-bad version.
The Mountain Goats – “This Year”
When to sing: When the taste of scotch is rich on your tongue, naturally.
Make sure to: To do that little “ahha” thing before “listen to the engine whine.” And, make it through this night, if it kills you.
My Morning Jacket – “Gideon”
When to sing: Probably one of the hardest songs on this list, so you could really bring the place down if you’re aligned for it. If you got that high note, go for it anytime, and show that dude who just did “With Or Without You” what the deal is.
Make sure to: Remember that you can hit the super high note like Jim James does live — just scream that sawngun out.
The National – “Mr. November”
When to sing: This fall seems to be another perfect time, no?
Make sure to: Amble through the crowd really slowly, steadily stepping on tables and chairs, and if you run into a tiny girl in the bar, do this.
Neutral Milk Hotel – “Song Against Sex”
When to sing: When you want to sing “Too Drunk To Fuck” but you don’t have the drugs to take to soothe your mind — you’re always sober.
Make sure to: To preface your performance by alerting the audience that there will be strictly be no video recording or photography of any kind. In fact, you should probably be doing that before every song anyway.
The New Pornographers – “Bleeding Heart Show”
When to sing: When you have a cast of at least A.C. Newman, Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, and Dan Bejar to join up for the “Hey la’s”, a crucial moment that cannot be left to the karaoke track.
Make sure to: Just give the guy who’s playing Dan Bejar a tambourine and a drink. He doesn’t need to be on stage the whole time.
Nick Lowe – “I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass”
When to sing: Such a great lead-off song, or you could win the night if you can get the DJ to give you a fast pass to the mic right after someone breaks a pint glass.
Make sure to: Bring your drink up there and then either pretend to drop it and laugh it off and wink, or throw it to the ground and stare directly at the audience and stand perfectly still until you are escorted from the stage.
Of Montreal – “Gronlandic Edit”
When to sing: To make an entrance upon arriving at the bar, as the beat is conducive to Night at the Roxbury-style head-bobbing and/or your own personalized moonwalk. With moves like those, you’ll get mic priority in no time.
Make sure to: Bring some friends in a boys’ choir to sing the high falsetto.
Okkervil River – “Lost Coastlines”
When to sing: At the peak of the night — only because I think this is one of the better karaoke songs. It’s got the makings of one of those “gather ’round, we’re doing ‘Lost Coastlines'” vibes.
Make sure to: Use the little instrumental break that everyone in the bar has to sing the “La, la, la la la la,” part that’s coming up. It’s such a perfect place to explain it.
Patti Smith – “Free Money”
When to sing: Be true to Patti and do it sober!
Make sure to: Not go all Natalie Merchant/10,000 Maniacs on this one — your melody rides the feeling.
Pavement – “Unfair”
When to sing: When you’re at a place on the Sunset Strip and you don’t want to sing “AEnima” again because no one really got it the first time.
Make sure to: Bring out those Malkmus histrionics and also let the DJ know that there really should be like every Pavement song in this book.
Peaches – “Fuck the Pain Away”
When to sing: When the idea of singing “Closer” seems too dominant and chauvinistic, and you want something a little more coquettish and submissive, yet just as fucking graphic.
Make sure to: Go in knowing that you’re about to say “Fuck the Pain Away” 24 times, and pray for semantic satiation.
The Pharcyde – “Oh Shit”
When to sing: When you want to sing “Things That Make You Go Hmmmm” but you’ve got a team of tenors with you.
Make sure to: Just get a lady to sing Slimkid3’s verse because come on.
Pixies – “Hey”
When to sing: Directly before or after someone sings The Breeders — “One Divine Hammer”.
Make Sure To: Interact with the singer of “One Divine Hammer”. This is your future wife, or at the very least you should start a band together.
PJ Harvey – “Words that Maketh Murder”
When to sing: When you’re pretty sure everyone’s either ready to go get eggs at the local diner, or you’re desperately seeking the attention of the guy or girl wearing brown and black in the corner next to The Addams Family pinball game.
Make sure to: Start loud, get soft, and then just sort of decide whether you want to finish loud or just repeat the harmonies or pass out.
Portishead – “All Mine”
When to sing: It’s such a James Bond-y torch song – the one that can bring you glory and fame – depending on your skill set. After midnight, to be sure, and after you’ve told seven different men your seven different names.
Make sure to: Ask if, just this once, you can smoke in here.
R. Kelly – “Trapped In The Closet”
When to sing: This for the KJ. If you’re ever a KJ, what you do is you learn the first 10 or so parts to this magnum opus and interpolate them throughout the night. This really is the best thing a KJ could do.
Make sure to: Pull out your beretta when things get heated.
The Rapture – “Out Of The Races And Onto The Tracks”
When to sing: After the idea of impressing people with your voice has long since faded, and you believe you can entertain the masses by doing one simple thing:
Make sure to: Shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake.
Regina Spektor – “Your Honor”
When to sing: Trying to explain to the bouncer that your belligerently drunk friend is just “fighting for your honor” and/or distract the bouncer by creating the first Regina Spektor-inspired mosh pit ever.
Make sure to: Grab an unsuspecting audience member to forcefully air-kiss.
The Replacements – “Bastards of Young”
When to sing: Right after a heated argument about what you’re doing with your life, or HBO’s Girls. The kind of performance you give will hang on how drunk you are — but that’s kind of the point with The Mats.
Make sure to: Tell the DJ that he should have literally every Replacements song in the book.
Rilo Kiley – “Silver Lining”
When to sing: You’ve been politely shot down by the fourth cute guy you’ve approached at the bar- is it your fault they’re all “seeing someone”?- and you want to show all those guys what they’re missing.
Make sure to: Not confuse it with “Dreams”. Trust me, those chord changes really sound the same, especially after one drink too many.
Rufus Wainwright — “14th Street”
When to sing: After a bottle of wine, and when you’re in any city with a gridded downtown, doesn’t matter how big.
Make sure to: Play up Wainwright’s slur if you have to and find that perfect three-glasses-of-wine legato.
Ryan Adams – “Halloweenhead”
When to sing: It doesn’t have to be October to chant this one across the bar. Be ironic, or find your inner Jack Skellington, and belt this out at Christmas shindigs everywhere.
Make sure to: “Guitar solo!”
Scott Walker – “Jackie”
When to sing: When you can see the bottom of your first elderflower cocktail, and after you place a mint leaf behind your ear.
Make sure to: Indicate just as much, if not more, than Walker does in the above video. “My beard so very long and flowing” being one example of a shining moment for pantomime.
The Shins – “Gone For Good”
When to sing: A perfect song for an afternoon karaoke session, or one of your first songs.
Make sure to: Bring a friend who can do those harmonies cause they’re so breezy.
Silver Jews – “Punks In The Beerlight”
When to sing: Right before you propose to your burnout girlfriend.
Make sure to: Bring your punk up there with you.
Sleater-Kinney – “Dig Me Out”
When to sing: After you’ve grown tired of the same polite rebuffs you’ve been giving all night and want to transform your face into a giant “back the hell up off” sign.
Make sure to: Furrow the brow, clench the mic, and curtsy at the end.
Sleigh Bells – “Rill Rill”
When to sing: When you want everyone to get up and sway together without singing “Time of Your Life”. Once that Funkadelic sample kicks in, it’s only natural.
Make sure to: Wear just one fingerless glove and a string of bullets, if you’ve got ’em.
Spoon – “The Underdog”
When to sing: You’re sloppy, stained with kisses, and your high school girlfriend you haven’t spoken to in over a decade has just walked through the door.
Make sure to: Take a page or two from Tom Jones – dance, dance, dance with the horns!
The Strokes – “15 Minutes”
When to sing: That one night you decide to be bold and wear the leather jacket, despite the fact that your friends all joke around and call you “The Fonz.”
Make sure to: Stay focused, despite that dreamy guitar solo, watch for the changes, and try to keep up at the end.
Sufjan Stevens – “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”
When to sing: When you’re sure that you can come back from it. This is for advanced artists only.
Make sure to: …I don’t even know. I just kind of want to hear someone sing it and just live in whatever weird moment that it manifests forever.
Supergrass – “Alright”
When to sing: Someone’s brought up at least one reference to Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Jeremy Sisto, or anything having to do with 1995’s Clueless.
Make sure to: Really belt out “But we are young!”, especially if it’s your 30th birthday.
Tapes ‘n’ Tapes – “Insistor”
When to sing: When you want to sing Violent Femmes, but you’d rather sing a song about being a badger. The song has a great arc to it, so it should take care of itself.
Make sure to: Add that big scream in the final chorus.
Television – “See No Evil”
When to sing: Right after the girl who sang Patti Smith asked you, “So, what are you singing?”
Make sure to: Turn in your best Tom Verlaine impression (sing everything just a little behind the beat), and bring a beer to drink during that killer guitar solo.
The-Dream – “Yamaha”
When to sing: When you want to branch out from your Prince standards, and “Darling Nikki”.
Make sure to: Wear your motorcycle jacket, and take some names, lil’ mama.
The Thermals – “Here’s Your Future”
When to sing: On the eve of any Catholic-related holiday.
Make sure to: Keep the nasal passages clear; otherwise, you’ll have everyone asking what Springsteen song this is.
Titus Andronicus – “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future”
When to sing: After a three-Jameson rocks, and you get the idea that the only way anyone will like you tonight is if you bring everyone down to your level.
Make sure to: Plant some ringers in the audience for the “You will always be a loser” part, and if you get everyone singing at the end you’ll be a karaoke loser forever.
Tom Waits – “I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You”
When to sing: When the night is squinting back at you, and there’s only about five people in the bar, and the bartender is wiping down the bar half-interested in what you’re doing.
Make sure to: At the end, tell everyone to tip their bartenders.
tUnE-yArDs – “Bizness”
When to sing: Like “Tightrope”, as often as possible.
Make sure to: BYO face paint, and see if you can find a way to do that vibrato thing Merril does at the start of the second verse.
TV On The Radio – “Wolf Like Me”
When to sing: After a spirited conversation about what, ultimately, is the best TV On The Radio song.
Make sure to: Put in a good argument for “Wolf Like Me”.
The Velvet Underground – “Beginning To See The Light”
When to sing: When your night is striking a nice balance somewhere between Loaded and White Light/White Heat.
Make sure to: Just make up whatever melody/words you want during the verse.
The Weeknd – “Wicked Games”
When to sing: When you want to bring the sexual tension from “girl look at that cute guy” to “this is unbearable and I have to leave.”
Make sure to: Not even attempt this if you can’t hit those high notes. Consult friends before singing and listen to them if they laugh at you.
Whiskeytown – “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight”
When to sing: When you’re drunk enough that your country roots start to show, but are still aware that you’re singing Ryan Adams.
Make sure to: Add that twang that Ryan Adams used to do.
Why? – “The Hallows”
When to sing: When you want to get back to the proto-hipster, and drop some fantastic white-boy rhymes on the mic.
Make sure to: Preface this song by “You’ve probably never heard of these guys” just for old-time’s sake.
Wilco – “Monday”
When to sing: After a couple of PBRs and after someone asks you if you know any country songs other than that Ryan Adams guy.
Make sure to: Infer that you do know more country songs, but few are as great as “Monday”.
Wild Flag – “Romance”
When to sing: I know it’s a new song in the canon, but really, when is there not a good time to sing this song?
Make sure to: Air-guitar throughout and slyly note to passersby that you saw Sleater-Kinney live before they split. Like, during the song.
Wire – “Ex Lion Tamer”
When to sing: After you get done complaining about HBO’s Girls for the last hour and just want to grab everyone by the collars, and scream some metaphors in their faces. This is not an uncommon emotion.
Make sure to: Bring up a hype-man for the extra punch off from the mic when you sing the echo lines in the verse.
Wolf Parade – “This Heart’s On Fire”
When to sing: After about a pack of cigarettes into the night.
Make sure to: Leave absolutely all of it on stage.