Most people sing karaoke for the same reasons that they go bowling: it's an activity that demands no skill, and you're allowed to drink while you're doing it. Perhaps there are some people who can get up and sing karaoke confidently and with no concern for the eardrums they are perforating or the notes they are destroying. These people are called "Terrorists," The rest of us have to worry about the following pitfalls that somehow don't seem apparent until they're happening:


So, you're going to sing Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," because of course you are, you font of creative ideas. So naturally you're positive that you can sing "Don't Stop Believing." You have sung it in the shower. You have sung it in the car. You have had four beers.

Then you get up in front of the microphone and you realize that, barring the resourceful use of a cattle prod, there is no way on God's green earth that you are hitting notes that high. Suddenly your voice is breaking and cracked worse that Michael Cera via 2003. What changed?

Well before, you could always sing in your head voice and kind of drift your way up to the high notes. When you're suddenly belting out a song in your chest voice, you're going to need a tighter pair of pants to hit that high G.


So you're up on stage and reasonably sure that you can sing, say, Fiona Apple's "Criminal" because it has a more limited range of notes than Bob Dylan on a particularly apathetic day.

What you forgot up until this point, though, is that sometimes in a song a chorus repeats, or is sung differently later in the song, or makes a fucking key change for no reason other than cocaine, probably. And, as you're slowly learning, karaoke was made for the sole purpose of making you look stupid. So the line might look like "Because he's all I ever knew of love" but it might mean "Because he's aaaall I e-e-e-ver kneeeeeew of lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ve."

And now you're seriously considering dropping the mic and slinking away in shame as the music wanders off without you and your sad, faltering voice.


It is a verifiable fact that no one who staggers up to sing a song at karaoke night has thought all the way through that song before making the decision. And so most people sort of forget that a lot of really great songs have incredibly long, repetitive endings. Radios cut these songs off at the three and a half minute mark because they don't want to cause undue suffering. KJs are not as kind.

So honestly, no matter how fun it starts out, by the 60th repetition of "Na na na na na na na na na...hey Jude!" everyone at the bar hates you, especially as they watch you gamely try to smile your way through the creeping fear that this is one of those never-ending levels of hell.


Okay, no changing chorus is going to get you. You practiced your next song every day on the way to work until your car seriously considered driving you off a bridge. You have it down cold.

Except that when you get up there, you suddenly remember that you've been transposing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" into a key that's actually meant for human beings. Now that you're singing it, you suddenly realize that it is somehow a song that is simultaneously too low and too high for anyone without two distinct and functioning sets of genitalia.


Okay, you've finally got a song that you're sure you know. You remember the differences between the first and final chorus, you know it's in your range, you know it's only 2:58 long, you cannot embarrass yourself.

Except, oh shit, how could you forget that "Hotel California" has the world's longest instrumental? You're only halfway through the song, so it's not like you can just make your exit. You have to stand there and wait except, oh god, what do you do with your hands and why had this never seemed like a problem before? Where do hands normally go?! Should you dance? Should you head bang or is that awkward and cheesy? Should you boredly check your phone or watch or is that just transparently stupid? Should you cry and then chug a beer and pray for a blackout?

No. In all likelihood, you'll stand there, sweating and bobbing to the beat like you're enjoying the break, and maybe do a little two-step that will only embarrass anyone who might be watching you.


Dude, you freaked out so hard that you picked an obscure jazz song that's easy, straightforward, short, and in your range. Literally no one is even pay attention to you or even noticing if you're doing well. Everyone in the bar is just waiting for you to stop so that they can sing along with the next idiot to try "Don't Stop Believin'."