Boom! Shake The Room: The world’s greatest karaoke songs

I was twenty-five the first time I ever did karaoke. It was at a working men’s club in Southport and I sang ‘Eye of the Tiger’ with my friend Jenni. We were mashed off our cobblers and told the MC that our names were Summer and Autumn. We sounded absolutely awful. I loved it.

So followed several years of late night Singstar (sorry neighbours) and going out to the local karaoke bar in Leeds, which opened around the same time. My late twenties and early thirties were punctuated with nights in darkened rooms eating beige food on platters, drinking weird shots then moshing to my friend Layla singing ‘Chop Suey’ by System of a Down.

Anyway, sweet memories aside, this week’s number one is ‘Boom! Shake The Room’ by Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, which is MY karaoke song.

My karaoke song is also ‘Alone’ by Heart, ‘Regulate’ by Warren G and ‘Stay (I Missed You)’ by Lisa Loeb depending on what time of night it is and how cool I’m trying to be.

It might also be ‘Buffalo Stance’ by Neneh Cherry which I’ve failed to find on every karaoke system I’ve ever used, despite always looking thoroughly for it. Disappointing.

‘Boom! Shake The Room’ is always top of my list though. It honours my ability to say lots of words really fast and remember lyrics from years ago (but not the reason why I walked into the kitchen just now). It’s also good for getting the karaoke party started by having a chorus where everybody can join in. And rapping means you don’t have to worry about hitting the right notes. What a cracker.

However, it’s not all fun and games in karaoke-land — mainstay of hen parties and ill-advised work nights out where everyone smiles politely as Neil from accounts belts out ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’.

An idle google reveals that the karaoke tracks beloved by the nation are a thoroughly depressing bunch. According to karaoke establishment Lucky Voice, the top two requested songs are Let It Go (argh) and Happy by Pharrell Williams (not sure anyone apart from my three-year-old want to hear this again). Grease classic ‘Summer Nights’ still ranks highly too. Shudder.

This little collection is enough to put most right-thinking people off a night out in a karaoke establishment, but let me tell you there are some real treats to be had if you know what to search for.

And go with people who have good taste in music — or at least similar taste in music to you. It makes the world of difference.

Here are some of the greatest karaoke tracks, according to drunk me while on a night out:

Hole — Celebrity Skin

Bjork — It’s Oh So Quiet

The Cure — It’s Friday I’m In Love

Whitney Houston — I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Rage Against The Machine — Killing In The Name

Kate Bush — Wuthering Heights

Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers — Islands In The Stream

Honourable mention to any 80s cock rock for air guitar and pelvis-thrusting opps. And nu-metal is always fun for “ironically” doing the picking-your-contact-lens-off-the-floor dance as if you didn’t spend the late 90s/early 00s doing it for real. To Korn.

Did I miss your favourite? Let me know.

PS. Anyone fancy a night out?

I wrote this post as part of the #write52 project. Write52 now has its own twitter account, run by the esteemed Ed Callow and you can sign up for the newsletter right here.

I’m Penny Brazier, a freelance writer, content strategist and microphone hog. Find me talking nonsense on Twitter and musing thoughtfully on Instagram.

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