[OT] Asking for a different kind of song recommendation

My sister-in-law, who lives on the other coast, has got it into her head that next time we’re all together, she and I have to sing karaoke together. Now keep in mind that I’m old — and will probably be considerably older by the time we see one another — and I haven’t sung in public since I was 12. Not even “Happy Birthday.” I’m not quite tone deaf enough to not know how bad I am.

Apparently she’s at least as bad.

I don’t know how drunk she expects both of us to be — which would be a feat in any case, since neither of us drinks.

But she’s fixated on this,  and wants me to pick the song, so what duet should I choose?


  1. Afternoon Delight is the classic karaoke song in Arrested Development

    Either go for something easy like row row row your boat or go for something hard and go all out so that the awfulness makes it so other people feel like they can at least do better than that… set the standard

  2. @CIDUBill: forget the Sinatras and think Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman ?
    Otherwise, and very appropriate :’Comic strip’, by Serge Gainsbourg.

  3. Speaking of Nancy Sinatra, maybe Jackson or Summer Wine. Same slightly off vibe for a brother and sister, but then most duets are gonna have that.

  4. The only one I can think of that isn’t inappropriate for a guy and his SIL is “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better”, but it’s awfully long.

  5. Oh, that’s a good one, Arthur.

    I have no idea how these things even work: do they basically have every song in the universe? And do they have abridged versions of long songs?

    Do they have prepared lists of Songs You Can Sing With Your Sister That Won’t Creep People Out?

  6. lazarusjohn, three very good choices. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart might be a bit off, but on the other hand it’s actually the first song I thought of.

  7. @ FBS – Of all the songs I ever heard (too many times) as a kid, that one-hit-wonder is something that I would have been more than happy never to hear ever again. Growing up in the D.C. suburbs, we had the misfortune that it counted as a “local” creation, so perhaps we had to endure even more airplay than elsewhere.

  8. There’s only one duet I can think of that is fairly straightforward but can still go horribly wrong in a heartbeat:

    “Endless Love.”

  9. If you can rope in a few more people, Summer Nights from Grease works well for guy/girl groups.

  10. Yes, “Something Stupid” is too romantic for your use, and did feel creepy to most people I knew then when the Sinatras did it as a duet.

    (OT) The producers of “Better Call Saul” wanted to use this song, but not the Sinatra & Sinatra release. The music supervisor commissioned a new cover of it, from a band called Lola Marsh. For a later episode, they wanted the song again, but with a different feeling, and so had a second cover done by Lola Marsh.


    (At 1:08 that’s not lemonade he’s drinking!)

  11. The more complicit, less “I’m protesting this entire concept ‘cuz y’all know I can’t sing” tactic is a song where the lyrics are traditionally spoken, not sung. Examples:
    Devil went down to Georgia
    Most rap
    Any song Rex Harrrison ever “sang”

  12. “The more complicit, less “I’m protesting this entire concept ‘cuz y’all know I can’t sing’ tactic”

    If I were ever forced into karaoke, I’d almost certainly pick a song I could sing my filk lyrics to, instead of the original ones.

  13. If you’re doing karaoke in public, safest bet is a song everybody will join in on, then nobody’s actually listening to you. I suggest “Yellow Submarine.”

    If you want something self-referential, go with “Gratuitous Karaoke Moment” from _Crazy Ex-Girlfriend_: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQnkKxRfoWg

  14. I say lean into it. And nobody will notice if the vocals are off if you both get some of dance moves right. Though the bit at 2:51 makes this old back creek just thinking about it.

  15. “Without You” from “My Fair Lady”, as sung by Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. When you sing a Rex Harrison song you don’t have to sing at all.

  16. Who was arguably even worse than Rex Harrison? Yul Brynner. I might have your winner here, since Anna is doing all the work and the King is barely pretending to sing.

  17. We saw The King and I a couple of years ago. The actor playing the King has a really good voice and yeah, it sounded weird to me.

  18. Bill, are you a baritone? Can your sister-in-law cover a tenor part? Then you could try “At the foot of the holy temple”, one of the few celebrated duets for the two male-range voices. If it sounds like a bit of a romantic love song, that’s not directed at each other, it’s because they are rivals for the same woman’s affections (as well as being sort-of enemies in a political/ethnic/colonial violent conflict).

    On second thought, it requires great pitch control to blend and harmonize correctly.

  19. Maybe the most desired quality of the song would be “very short”?

    Be kind to your web-footed friends
    For a duck may be somebody’s mother
    Be kind to your friends in the swamp
    Where the weather is very cold and dahhmmp,
    Now you may think that this is the end,
    But it is.

  20. Kilby, your suggestion can go with Grawlix’s

    (I’ve been trying to teach myself “The Elements” over the Coronavirus break, and let me tell you, when you can’t even sing along to a song with the lyrics right in front of you, you’ve got your work cut out for you! I ended up playing it at half speed on YouTube, then 75% speed, just to be able to get all the words in. The speed he sings it in is ridiculous! I’ve progressed after two months to be able to sing along to most of it at full speed. Ytterbium and protactinium still give me trouble to remember how to say, and the “molybdenum, magnesium, dysprosium and scandium and cerium” part I can’t quite get, and the last run, even though it has nothing hard, just ties my tongue together. But still: progress! Now I have to work on getting off book…)

  21. larK, try singing the ORIGINAL version of “The Elements,” which Tom Lehrer credited to Aristotle. It goes like this:

    There’s Earth and Air and Fire and Water.

  22. choice 1 – any song that is only instrumental
    choice 2 – any song that both of you actually know all the lyrics to

    And you could not possibly be worse than any member of my family – except my nephew (he got the music gene from his dad who married my sister. He actually works (as second fun job) as a musician. In real life he is in advertising and as I understand it – Nike bought some piece of music he wrote – but I heard that through my 91yo mom – and, well sometimes…

  23. At my grandmother’s 90th birthday party (which took place on her 92nd birthday; long story), after everybody sang Happy Birthday, my cousin’s husband said “This is incredible: Five generations, and nobody can carry a tune.”

    We apparently all made a point of marrying people who can’t sing, in order to keep the atonal genes strong.

  24. George Burns used to not sing the lyrics of “The Entertainer” — maybe you could both get cigars and do that.

  25. I’m pretty sure they give you some sort of monitor that displays the lyrics.

    Yes, but it’s easier to have a song you know and just use the captions as a reminder.

Add a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.