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Have to perform in front of a small room of tipsy friends? Here are 12 surefire metal songs that will slay at karaoke…
As a rule, most metal doesn't sit well at karaoke. The practice is better reserved for big, goofy songs that people find absolutely ridiculous but secretly love to sing along to. On top of that, metal fans at karaoke often have a chance to seem extra carefree and hilarious by performing a silly pop song with metal vocals or while wearing spiked leather; a dude in a gauntlet singing Maiden is par for the course, but that same dude nailing Oops, I Did It Again can bring the house down. As such, the majority of metal tracks fall by the wayside during karaoke nights, reserved for more serious times.
That said, if someone is dead-set on performing some metal at karaoke, there are plenty of options. These tracks might not be as hardcore as your average Cannibal Corpse tune, but they're still angrier and louder than the ABBA and Taylor Swift most people are going to pack the queue with. So for those of you looking to bring the house down in flames, here are the 12 songs to make sure they have in the book…
In a lot of ways, Mother is the perfect metal karaoke song. Its title is its central lyric, it has a recognisable tune, and it has at least one word – guess which one – that everyone in the room can scream at once. More importantly, it gives the singer a chance to try something every metal fan has attempted in private: a Danzig impression. Just hope you have the core strength to do the proper edge-of-the-stage stance…
You don’t need to know the lyrics of Breaking The Law to nail it, so much as the rhythm. Once you have that fourth repetition of the title down – 'BRAY-kin’ the laaaaw' – you’re pretty much golden. Most of the work is done for you by the central riff, and at no point in this one does Rob Halford do the kind of insane vocal acrobatics that’ll reveal how many cigarettes you’ve smoked that night if you try them. At their heart, everyone’s a headbanger.
Maybe you can pull off the David Draiman mating call, and maybe you can't. It doesn’t really matter – even if you fail at getting the exact cadence of the 'OOOO-WAKAKAKA', it’ll be funny for you and your friends. On top of that, this song also lets you try to clipped, stylised chorus parts like, 'You mutha geddup' that’ll have people either chanting along or rolling in the aisles at your failed attempts. A win-win situation.
As far as sing-along choruses go, few metal songs are as awesome as Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It. Not only is it a tune everyone’s familiar with, but it embodies the grand, rebellious attitude of ’80s metal, which is what most non-metalheads come to the genre for anyway. The track also provides some wiggle room performance-wise – you can either sing it straight, or give it a bit of death metal edge to up the power. Either way, this one is a surefire hit.
At the end of the day, unless one is actually a great performer – which is most likely not the case during most drunken nights – a karaoke song should be one that everyone in the room can sing along to. Few metal tracks have as widely-known and scream-able an opening as Last Resort, which makes it an automatic hit. This also gives it another desirable trait: it feels like a good choice even if it’s abandoned soon into the song. If you can get to the harsh vocals at the end, awesome; if not, you’ve still given the people what they want.
Like many of the song on this list, Holy Diver is mostly a set-up for a solid impression, with Dio being an awesome guy to imitate. That said, it’s also a killer track with a rad central riff that announces the singer’s song choice a mile away. Most importantly, it has lyrics that are kind of silly, but entirely earnest, so that one can belt about riding the tiger and yell, 'JUMP! JUMP!' to everyone’s hilarity without breaking the Dio facade. That rare, perfect moment when classic metal is both deeply cheesy and entirely awesome.
While much of Linkin Park’s music is compelling and heartfelt, that also means much of it is a little intense for karaoke. But One Step Closer has a big recognisable chorus and verse that can get people joining in. It also has the vocal dichotomy of Chester’s singing and Mike’s rapping, meaning that while the person holding the mic can howl the former, their friends on the pleather couches can shout the latter at them in delight. Ninjas fighting on the ceiling not included.
Performing David Lee Roth-era Van Halen is less about pretending to be a rock star and more about hosting a Vegas revue. You’ve got to shake your hips, point at members of the audience, and wag your eyebrows at everyone you can. On no song is that truer than Hot For Teacher, a high-octane metal sex anthem full of bad metaphors and lots of wailing. Put this one on, and it doesn’t matter whether you hit all the notes or not – it’s just about performing, which is really karaoke’s purpose in the first place.
Freak On A Leash checks a box few songs even have: the bizarre vocalisation part. Like Down With The Sickness, the track asks those singing it to break into a jumbled, growling scat performance midway through. So while your friends can have fun screaming along to the chorus that they all know, they’ll have an even better time waiting for something like, ‘[gibberish]’ or ‘[guttural noises]’ to appear on screen and hear you go all-out on a ‘BOOM NA NA BOOM'.And even if you screw it up, there’s something funny about that.
In best-case scenarios, a karaoke party is made up entirely of seasoned metalheads, but usually there are at least some un-entrenched friends in attendance. For them, AC/DC’s Highway To Hell hits arguably the two most important heavy metal notes: it has a big chorus whose only words are the title, and it’s satanic in the most light-hearted way possible. Add to that a beat you can clap along to, and you’ve got a karaoke gem.
A big chorus is one thing – a chant is another. Rage Against The Machine might feel intense and political for the average night out with friends, but the chanting part of every refrain, and the eventual closing chant of, 'Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me', make it the kind of track that can leave a whole room full of people breathless and flushed. If the person performing it is tough as nails and able to spit hot fire, awesome; if they’re small and squeaky but able to put on a tough face, even better.
If it’s in the book of songs, it’s a crime not to perform You Suffer. Clocking in at just over a second, this song offers a Monty Python-ish credits sequence, where the neon screen advertising the track and who wrote it stays up longer than the lyrics do. Best way to play this one: punch it in four or five times in a row, which will come out to way under the amount of time it takes to perform any other track.
The Kerrang! Chart
The ultimate new music countdown – every Friday!
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