Ring of Fire.

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What, you mean to tell me you don’t have “Karaoke Song List” as one of your iPhone Notes?  

Even if you don’t relish the karaoke mic as I do, believe me, at some point you will wish you had such a list of your very own. Assign this list to the highest priority, too, right up there with your earthquake preparedness kit.  Statistically speaking, you are way more likely to suffer severe, negative consequences from not having a Karaoke Song List than to experience a quake requiring you to crack open those iodine tablets.

So why is the Karaoke Song List so mission-critical?  Allow me to elaborate…. 

Reason #1:  The Karaoke Song List will save you from the worst karaoke nightmare:  The dreaded song out of one’s range.  There are few experiences promising long-term emotional trauma that can compare with finding yourself onstage, mic in-hand, with five minutes remaining on your hastily-selected “Bohemian Rhapsody” rendition.  Nothing good can come from this.  Nothing.  Freddy Mercury’s voice was ridiculous; out of this world.  If you had Freddy Mercury’s singing voice, you wouldn’t be up on that stage right now with your feet sticking to the floor from spilled PBRs.  Let me save you this ignominy — get thee a Karaoke Song List.  

Note:  If for some reason you scoff at this Reason #1, and find yourself in the middle of this particular rock opera, the lyric is “Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?”  Still, good luck with that.  

Reason #2:  A corollary to Reason #1, Reason #2 will develop and refine your song-selection palate such that you will be well-armed in a game of “Karaoke Roulette.”  This game has several iterations, but my favorite version is a simple one.  I agree to sing any song you pick for me, and you do the same.  My advantage is the years of hard-earned research sunk into my Karaoke Song List.  You see, by identifying those songs that I can actually sing in karaoke, I have learned which songs neither I nor anyone else (save Freddy Mercury) has any business singing.  I have a keen sense, now, for which songs offer the maximum potential for spirit-crushing embarrassment.  

Want a taste?  “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” (Sophie B. Hawkins) and “Rock Me Like A Hurricane” (Scorpions).  When the karoke DJ announces one of these songs and beckons your karaoke roulette challenger up to the mic, your challenger will be feeling pretty good.  At first.  They’ll be thinking to themselves, “Hey, I know this song, I don’t even need the prompter for the words.  I love this song.  This song is awesome!  I am going to crush it!!”

No.  They’re not going to crush anything.  You are going to do the crushing.  

When it suddenly dawns on them how God-awful these songs are to sing.  In front of complete strangers.  Who think that your challenger deliberately chose that song to sing.  To complete strangers.  Imagine the hushed silence and stares from those strangers as your challenger exits the stage, sweating, red-cheeked, thoroughly humiliated. A far cry from shouting the melody while listening to the radio in whatever car they drove in the 80s or 90s, eh?  

Congratulations, your Karaoke Song List just made you the victor.   

Reason #3: If you find a handful of songs that you can actually sing, that don’t require “Ice Ice Baby” enunciation, that don’t last longer than a couple minutes, then you have found your karaoke sweet spot.  This list above has never failed me, for example.  I’m safe. I’ve learned to control the fight or flight response triggered by hearing the DJ say my name. I’ve learned to stare into the beast’s eyes, confident that my Karaoke Song List will protect me. 

Provisos:  Now, to be perfectly candid, there a few provisos of which you should be aware, even if you have decided to cultivate your very own, bulletproof Karaoke Song List at my urging….

Proviso #1: The Karaoke Song List will not protect you against group performances.  Unless you have a group song on your list, do not do it.  Those never work out.  And for God’s sake, do not get involved with any spontaneous choreography.  That will only make it worse.  Stick to your list.  A proviso to this proviso:  If your wife begs you to do a “Journey” duet, just do it.  Not because it’s part of my Karaoke Song List theory.  No.  Because you want to stay married.  Marriage trumps the Karaoke Song List.  “Don’t Stop Believin'” will be painful.  It will hurt.  You will want to deliberately fall backwards off the stage, feign a grand mal seizure, anything, to get out your piece of this song half way through it.  Stick it out.  And then get right back on the horse — your Karaoke Song List. 

Proviso #2:  Know your audience.  The audience is comprised not only of the people who will heckle or embrace you, but also of the people that will sing right after you do.  For example, if you happen to notice an all-male a capella group in the audience, put away your Karaoke Song List.  You are not going to sing tonight.  I don’t care how badly you want to sing tonight, how desperately you want these people to love you, to marvel at your Karaoke Song List.  No. You want to live to fight another day.  

Now, if you have some self-destructive urge to ignore this particular proviso, know that your mistake will set you back years with your karaoke confidence.   So please, scan the audience before you fill out those little pieces of paper.  Your Johnny Cash is no match for the a capella magic dropped on me, I mean, um, you, by Tufts University’s “Beelzebubs,” or whoever the hell that was on that dreadful night last summer.  

So there you have it.  Now get working on your very own Karaoke Song List!  You’re even welcome to borrow a few from my list. Although, can you really be sure that I haven’t popped a couple in there from my Karaoke Roulette List??

Thanks for reading. 

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