I Got You Babe: Top 10 Karaoke Song Duets
November 7, 2008 | Lists
Generally, more ear pleasing noises can be heard at a hog-calling contest for the hearing impaired than your average karaoke bar.
Now, there are some songs that take a certain amount of panache to bring down the house and avoid being drowned out by some depressed drunk firing coins into the jukebox to hear the real thing. The sonic heights of Bohemian Rhapsody, for one, are best attempted in the confines of the shower provided you close the bathroom window first and don’t own any jittery pets.
With this in mind, if you you are someone given to making more ears bleed than a peckish Mike Tyson, it’s best to call for backup to double the odds that a member of your twosome, even if they ordinarily might not be able to carry a tune without one being strapped to their chest with an explosive device, can handle the sonic load. (With the added benefit of having a partner in crime against musicality, free to refresh your drink during alternating verses)
With four or five pitchers of stale beer often a performance prerequisite (the equivalent of warm-up stretching for the average warbler), it’s even that much more important if you’re going to climb that karaoke mountain, to have a Sonny to your Cher (and ensuring proper safety precautions as you scale back down it) so that fewer words are missed scrolling by on the monitor–a level of skill that might be a precursor to some of the sobriety tests that might have to be passed later on in the evening. [Editor’s note: See The Top 10 Bar Songs of All Time and Top 10 Drinking & Driving Songs of All Time]
Given people’s election fatigue, we figured we’d lighten it up a bit and present the following Top 10 Karaoke Song Duets of All Time, so that 12 scotch and sodas into your next bachelor party, if you’re able to convince someone else to share your bad decision-making, you won’t have to be both Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond for ‘You Don’t Bring me Flowers’.
10. Picture by Kid Rock & Sheryl Crow. There are some people who’d say that Kid Rock is a multi-talented instrumentalist and songwriter and these people would be in attendance at his family reunion. Generally speaking, someone with migraines, their head in a vice and getting squash balls shot off their ass cheeks makes sounds more pleasant to the ear than anything Mr Rock has ever put out, but the man should be given his due as he’s sporadically capable of rendering something decent, sort of like when a con grinds out a license plate.
Paired with Crow, who was once ridden by Lance Armstrong in between Tour de Frances, the lyric “I was off to drink you awaaaaaayy!” will be met with rousing cheers and much stale ale wiped down off the tables.
9. The Girl is Mine, by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. For those of you favoring affirmative action, this ‘up with people’ crowd pleaser (depending on exactly what kind of bar you’re singing in) lends itself to bi-racial performance as Michael Jackson was technically still black when this was performed and you can haul your own black friend out to bring the house down. [‘Girl’ can even be substituted for ‘boy’ during the Jacko parts to great applause]
8. Crazy in Love, by Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles It’s a cliche to say that people have more money than God, but in this case, the power couple can underwrite the man upstairs, bail out Lehman Brothers and still have something left over to take each other somewhere nice. [Caveat: Jay-Z’s rap comes at the 2 minute mark of this 4 minute song, leaving the male half in a performance in the unenviable position of having to chose whether to either dance awkwardly on the spot or keep their hands in their pockets throughout]
7. Broken by Seether and Amy Lee ‘Cause I’m broken when I’m lonesome’, a bit of emo redundancy from Seether and Amy Lee. A ‘seether’ for those who were wondering, is a cooking pot and all things considered it’s a much better band name than ‘Cutting Board’.
6. Up Where We Belong Joe Cocker Jennifer Warnes
Joe Cocker, a guy who bears a superficial resemblance to Charlie Manson (see our Top 10 Horniest Cult Leaders of All Time) has a voice that sounds like he gargles with Lysol and whose taser-inspired gyrations are legendary, pairs up with the sweet alto of Jennifer Warnes for this Buffy St Marie penned ballad. Producer Don Simpson, apparently claimed “The song is no good. It isn’t a hit” and he was half-right, as anyone in the crowd when a couple of drunken lovebirds take to the stage to belt this one out.
5. I’ve Had the Time of My Life Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes: Ms. Warnes back again, this time teaming up with arguably the more righteous of the Righteous Brothers, Bill Medley. Her collaborations with Leonard Cohen are unlikely to be found in all but the most depressing bars on the planet. This song, guaranteed to thrill a crowd of people whose clocks stopped in the 1980s, featured prominently in the hit movie Dirty Dancing. On ‘Cheers’, Sam Malone in an attempt to bed Rebecca, has Bill Medley serenade her with ‘You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’. Not coincidentally, Dirty Dancing does this to every guy from the waist down.
4. Under Pressure David Bowie and Queen. This one, a good theme song for the workaday world, is an inexplicably popular choice on karaoke night. Bowie shows more range as an actor than as a singer and even though he and Freddy Mercury are both technically baritones, this will demand consummate karaoke professionalism. Most of the time it is a karaoke disaster, as is anything by either of these performers.
3. Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart Elton John and Kiki Dee Elton John may have put Kiki Dee on the map but a GPS is required to find her now. This was back in the days when Elton John’s music was fun to listen to — before he became a Sir and before he changed a few of the lyrics to his lamentable Marilyn Munroe-inspired piano dirge “Candle in the Wind” for Princess Diana — a song that will invite violence upon you if you attempt to subject an audience of antsy drunks to it. For this one, you and your chanteuse partner will need to be quite peppy. For added effect, move around a lot and swing your arms to and fro.
2. I Got You Babe Sonny and Cher: In the 1960s Sonny and Cher were a popular act, also known as “Who’s that nebbish with that foxy chick?” Sonny, despite being one uncool looking hippy, did pen some memorable tunes — and at the very top of that list is “I Got You Babe,” which is a popular karaoke choice for couples to sing to each other right before their relationships collapse and they go to war over who gets to look after Fido every second Sunday in March. It’s always the drunkest and loudest couple in the bar who gets up to out-shout each other with this one. That they “got each other babe” is not in dispute and neither is the fact that nobody else in the bar would ever want to claim them.
1. Islands in the Stream Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton: Kenny Rogers, subject of arguably the funniest impersonation in the history of MadTV, can out-croon anyone within a 10-mile radius. While other country stars have had an artistic rebirth in their declining years — see George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash — Kenny has had pretty much the opposite, his most frequent gig being the late-night infomercial salesman hawking a “Best of Country” compilation that features, surprise surprise, a whole bunch of Kenny Rogers tunes. Still though, Islands in the Stream is the coup de grace of karaoke duets, a staple of veterans of the bar mic, and a sure sign that you’re in a place where you’d be hygenically better off drinking from the bottle.