Talking To Girls About Duran Duran
Rob Sheffield, author of the national bestseller Love is a Mix Tape returns, with Talking To Girls About Duran Duran, a differentbut equally personal and equally universalspin on music as memory.
- "Girls On Film," Duran Duran (1981)
This song promised an entire generation that we would someday see a world full of female sumo wrestlers. This promise did not exactly come true. But it probably says a lot about why we all still love Duran Duran so much.
- "I Feel For You," Chaka Khan (1984)
If karaoke fiends are like vampires, this song is the stake through all of our hearts. If there's any corner of the karaoke bar that does not seem sufficiently rocked, all you have to do is bust this song out and everything unrocked gets rocked. If I try to do the rapping part, that means it's time for me to get stuffed into a cab and sent home before I sprain something.
- "Lovergirl," Teena Marie (1985)
One of the deadliest arrows in my karaoke quiver. Indeed, I would have to call the night a total loss if I don't get a chance to belt this one, which usually sends all my karaoke friends and the bartender ducking for cover. I don't know why I keep ruining everybody's night by singing this songI guess it's just the Teena Marie in me.
- "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," Cyndi Lauper (1983)
Sometimes I think the best 17 seconds in any song ever are the ones where Cyndi sings "When the working, when the working day is done, oh when the working day is done, oh girls, girls just wanna have fun…EVERYBODY!" And by "sometimes," I mean *whenever* this song is playing. I always felt like I wanted to be part of that that "everybody!"
- "Ask," The Smiths (1986)
One of Morrissey's most open-hearted songsalthough apparently he and the other ex-Smiths think it's one of their worst songs. I disagree. Last spring I heard the man sing it live at Carnegie Hall and it was enough to made grown goths weep.
- "Don't Stop Believin'," Journey (1981)
Fact: the karaoke bar could lose its license if an hour goes by and nobody tries to belt out this one. The fact that nobody except Steve Perry can hit the notes just adds to the general aura of streetlight-people emotional excess.
- "Situation," Yaz (1982)
You could hear this on the disco station or the rock station*everybody* loved this song. Everybody still does: LaRoux are currently in the U.S. Top Ten with "Bulletproof," which is basically a Yaz tribute record. Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet did a reunion tour a couple of years ago and it was pure brilliance.
- "Goin' Back To Cali," LL Cool J (1987)
My wife's go-to karaoke jam. She loves to do the LL rhymes, because she has the exact same vocal range. At her bachelorette party she must have sung this one six times. Every time she sang "I wanna do this, Brutus, but I don't want to pay," I knew I'd found the right girl.
- "Livin' on a Prayer," Bon Jovi (1986)
There's a reason this is the most popular karaoke song on the planet. There's just something so quintessentially American about the way suburban Catholic boy John Bongiovi turned into global pop god Jon Bon Jovi, and that whole story is right there in this song. It has something to do with heart and soul. But I guess it also has a lot to do with hair.
- "Ain't No Half Steppin'," Big Daddy Kane (1988)
Big Daddy is my favorite rapper everso fast and crazy, but so deadly and suave, too. I first heard him on *Yo! MTV Raps*. I used to watch it late at night on my grandfather's TV, sneaking downstairs after he went to bed. "I'm like Samson, but I go further the length, cause you could scalp my Cameo and I'd still have strength." Genius. I can never do justice to this song, but I always want to try.