It’s karaoke baby. It’s cool to hate it, but deep down, everyone harbours that same love. Whether you’re screeching your heart out at Cosy Joe’s or wailing in the comfort of your own home, you will always have that one song you don’t need to look at the words for. Our writers have chosen their favourite tunes that they belt out, when its their turn on the microphone.
‘Call Me Al’ – Paul Simon
This song isn’t technically a duet, and to appreciate why I’d sing it as a duet you’ve got to look at the music video. It’s a white room with 2 chairs. Paul Simon plays multiple instruments, looking somber, while Chevy Chase cheerily lip-syncs the song and acts out the lyrics with gestures. The juxtaposition of the tiny (much like my friend Tom Leach) Simon with the huge (much like me) Chevy creates a certain dynamic that’s just fun to watch. Without a doubt, if I had to perform a duet to end all duets I’m performing this lovely number with Tom in the Hancock on a Thursday night, an insufficient number of drinks in. I’m carrying the performance though, with my angelic voice. Our only spectator leaves to go to the washroom as we start. We deserve another shot at it.
This is no conventional duet – It has only one singer. But that doesn’t matter 7 pints in at Thursday night karaoke at The Hancock. Myself and my good friend Muslim Taseer, who has also written about this song, debuted our performance together on one such night. It was out of tune, lacking energy on both parts, and much less funny than we thought it would be. I realised this fact halfway through the track, when I could least easily get away. Still, it has given us a fond memory to share. It was as if the famous music video had been transplanted into a student pub in the northeast of England; I the short and unimposing Paul Simon, and Mr Taseer the tall and charismatic Chevy Chase, side by side bringing joy and music to the world.
‘Islands in the Stream’ – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
Picking up from where Bryn and Nessa left off in Gavin and Stacey, Islands in the Stream is the ultimate karaoke song. Firstly everyone knows it, and you can get a decent set of backing singers out of that, secondly, there are distinguished roles for each singer, preventing any overlap or confusion- you’re either Kenny Rogers or Dolly Parton. It’s a classic song that everyone can join in with and it’s one of the best karaoke songs for a duet.
‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’ – Bill Medley and Jenifer Warnes
I’ve gotta admit karaoke isn’t really my scene. The idea of getting up in front of a crowd and making a fool out of myself doesn’t sound like an ideal Friday night. However, I guess if there’s someone with me, it’ll somewhat numb the fear. For my track, I got some inspiration from an all-time classic movie: Dirty Dancing. The other day I was thinking about that iconic scene at the end, with the famous dive and catch from the late Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. The moment fits in perfectly with the climax of the song, with a slightly upbeat and emphatic melody. Who knows, if I’m drunk enough to sing on a stage, I might have the courage to channel my inner ‘Baby’ and dive into the crowd.
‘Sweet Caroline’ – Neil Diamond
Name me a better feeling than at the start of a Gerry Cinnamon gig. The music that plays in the crowd before the gig and the energy starts to build up as the start of the gig gets closer. At Glastonbury and the Newcastle arena I have vivid memories of singing aloud every word of this with everyone around me in the crowd, chanting and dancing. It makes me so happy to think of. For that reason, I’d do this song on karaoke because I associate so much energy with it and it’s so good to but energy into when singing all the beats.
‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ – The Libertines
I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve duetted ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ with my mates whilst sat about in someone’s kitchen in the small hours. The Libertines are one of my favourite bands and ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ captures the drama, love and hate at the heart of frontmen Pete and Carl’s relationship. The song features an argued dialogue between the two, blaming each other for their acrimonious split, before they painfully declare their continued love for one another. The song is classic Libertines as the swell of emotion between one of the most turbulent pairings in music is played out in song for the world to see.
‘Africa’ – Toto
Now I know karaoke is often you and a mic, but it’s so much more fun if you can get the whole room joining. So not so much a song for a karaoke duet, but a whole room sing-a-long. Toto’s most well-known song, and an absolute banger at that, when this song is on it is a challenge to not just belt this one out. Although the band insist they are so much more than this song, the album with Africa, Toto IV, won album of the year, Rosanna from the same album won Record of the Year, but for some people Toto won’t be more than this song, and what a song it is.
‘Lean On Me’ – Bill Withers
If you’re going to sing a karaoke duet with one of your mates, there’s no better song to belt out than ‘Lean On Me’. Bill Withers encapsulates what friendship is all about in a song that is quite beautiful, and although most people could never dream of singing with that same emotional depth that Withers musters so easily, this catchy chorus is perfect to sing along to, even if badly. When the world gets back to normal, this would be the perfect track to celebrate being able to see our friends again, as well as paying tribute to the musical legend that was Mr. Bill Withers.
‘Boys Don’t Cry’- The Cure
I was originally going to pick something cheesy as my karaoke song but I thought it would be remiss of me not to mention my only real karaoke experience. It was the night of Halloween 2019 and I had no plans to go out. I was sat working at my desk when suddenly I had a change of heart. Sitting in the bottom of my wardrobe was my Robert Smith wig and some face paint. That was the start of a strange night at Rafferty’s on Pink Lane and my one night as a Robert Smith impersonator singing my heart out to ‘Boys Don’t Cry’.
(Ive had) the time of my life Africa bill withers billy medley and jenifer warnes boys dont cry call me al cant stand me now Dolly Parton islands in the stream kenny rogers lean on me neil diamond Paul Simon sweet caroline the cure the libertines toto
Last modified: 21st April 2020