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I Love Rock’n’Roll

Discovering the joys of karaoke on the Danforth

by Katy Littlejohn
Piotr Ciuchta, Scotland, 2007 (stock.xchng www.sxc.hu)

The great thing about having a whole neighbourhood centred around one main street is that anything you need can probably be found in a single trip. On top of that, when it comes to crossing things off your list, there are so many options. Want to go for coffee? There’s Crema, Mocha Mocha, Timothy’s, Starbucks… Need groceries? Take your pick of produce stands, butchers, bakeries, fish markets, bulk food… Itching for a night out? Try dinner at one of the dozens of great restaurants, followed by drinks at any of the pubs.

Then how about some fun? Karaoke, anyone? To get your Danforth song on with this favourite pastime of children, and inebriated adults alike, check out the Fox & Fiddle between Fenwick and Carlaw, just west of Pape.

Karaoke is always a perfect way to spend time with friends, and a great way to make new ones. It carries the tradition of a strange medley of embarrassment and pride, which guarantees a good time, if not in perfect pitch.

Karaoke started in the early ‘70s in Japan. Since then, it has spread across the world’s bar scene, spinning tracks of popular songs without the lead vocal. The culture that surrounds karaoke now includes many strangers becoming the best of friends. Instead of feeling shy or nervous, a performer can confidently sing their favourite song to a room of their intoxicated peers. The pressure is completely off, first of all, because the lyrics are provided, and secondly, because, even if you do mess up, everybody else should be just drunk enough to not care!

The pressure may be off when it comes to singing, however, there is still the pressure of song choice. If American Idol has taught us anything, song choice is vital to a good performance. It’s common for the house to erupt with glee when the first familiar notes of a classic favourite play. It’s that reaction that can make or break a singer’s nerves. Song choice is VITAL!

Celia Martinez Bravo, Madrid, 2002 (stock.xchng www.sxc.hu)

If you’re new to karaoke, or you want to make a good impression with your date, here are some song choices that are sure to make you a bar star:

You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC

Living on a Prayer – Bon Jovi

Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

Pour Some Sugar on Me – Def Leppard

Faith – George Michael

Summer Nights – Grease

Semi-Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind

I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll – Joan Jett

Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – The Four Seasons

Jailhouse Rock – Elvis

Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-a-Lot

Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye

Songs to avoid:

We all love them, but maybe they’ve seen too much love on karaoke night:

Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

The slow, or emotionally wrought song:

Anything by Sarah McLachlan

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me – Elton John

Long songs, songs with a high music-to-lyric ratio, or repetitive songs:

Thriller – Michael Jackson

Freebird – Lynyrd Skynard

Hotel California – The Eagles

Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses

Tequila – The Champs

Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

Just remember the number one rule of karaoke is for everyone to have fun. Bring back the classics, remind the crowd about that long forgotten party anthem, and get in touch with your inner 80s rock god. Sing! Sing! Sing!

Chris Duncan, United Kingdom, 2006 (stock.xchng www.sxc.hu)


  • Meaghan

    I never thought I’d like karaoke – I’d laugh at friends who suggested a karaoke night and roll my eyes.

    One night a friend and I were drinking at a higher end Danforth pub and decided we wanted something a little more gritty and a lot more fun. We hit up karaoke at a sports bar near Coxwell and had a laugh and a half!

    I guess the biggest surprise was the community of regular, loyal, nice attendees. I have found it to be the same across the board so far and have discovered that I really enjoy another part of life on the Danforth that I had resisted for so long!

  • Maureen

    What a well-written article! Thanks for the lists of songs to try and songs to avoid, although I think that “Semi-Charmed Private Life” is a terrible song and should be moved to the avoid list. Haha, and “Baby Got Back” -great idea, I’m going to try that one next time!

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