Ah, karaoke. From the mind of a Japanese musician who was full of great ideas (except, of course, “I should patent this”), karaoke is the post-work/party/bar activity for those of us looking to mingle, network, or meet the opposite sex, all in a shame-free, mostly tone deaf environment.

And so we find ourselves in strip malls, in karaoke bars, in Byzantine corridors leading to personal soundproof rooms, singing our lungs out and loving every minute of it.

Until, of course, we’re sick of it.

And that’s why every karaoke excursion needs a Mariano Rivera, a Dennis Eckersley, a Kyra Sedgwick. A “Closer.” Someone who can shut the party down, whether by force or pure epic-ness.

Maybe everyone’s three sheets to the wind and it’s not nearly as funny as it was three sojus ago. Maybe you’d like some non-karaoke alone time with the girl who’s leaving town first thing in the morning. Maybe it’s the fact that you and your buddy swore to go into work on Saturday to finish that presentation, and if you don’t get him out of here now, you won’t hear from him until Tuesday on a collect call from a Filipino prison.

However it happens, it’s up to you to be a Karaoke Closer. Here are a few time-tested songs to get you out of whatever situation arises.

Sobering Up the Revelers  

It’d be easier if drinking and loud singing didn’t go together so well. But you’ve got to remember this: if police officers see you driving happily home at about 3:00 am, it’s their job to assume that you’re drunk. And if they had heard your stirring rendition of Annie Lenox’s “No More I Love You’s” twenty minutes earlier, they’d know you were.

Therefore, it’s an imperative to sober up not only yourself but the whole karaoke crowd before the inevitable volley of “I can drive’s” is met with the equally inevitable inability to properly split the bill. Here’s some songs that could wake the dead, much less your friend who’s been politely sipping from a flask of Jim Beam for most of the night.

(And let me throw in a reminder here that while singing these songs will shake everyone from their stupor, it’s always a good idea to just get a cab. The shame of having to go get your car from the parking garage in the morning will wash off. Prison shame rarely washes off, though they even mockingly provide showers for you.)

Motorhead – “Ace of Spades” – This song is like watching two trains plow towards each other, but right before the thunderous crash they rise up, pull out machine guns, and go at each other like it’s the bank shootout scene in “Heat.” Right before they start beating each other with chains. Inside a trash compactor. It will wake up the dead, much less the drunk.

Acceptable second choice/follow-up – Eric Clapton – “Tears in Heaven” Sobriety achieved.

Song for a Siren

So, you’ve been trading eye contact, shy smiles, and rounds of drinks with the lovely lady from out of town. And, of course, she’s leaving tomorrow morning. Time to make your move, but why do it in plain old speaking when you can do it in song?

Prince – “Purple Rain” – This is a major league karaoke song. Pull this off and no woman can resist your charm. Don’t believe me? Just ask Prince. He’ll tell you. He is his own aphrodisiac. But seriously, Purple Rain is a karaoke masterpiece (see below).

Barely comparable second choice – Meatloaf – “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” – If you’re here, it must be because you are saving “Purple Rain” for the wedding (or later – again, see below). Meatloaf, then, will have to suffice. It’s simple – select song, grab two mics, give her your most charming smile and say “this is a duet.” Who cares if she – or you – can’t sing? If you both make it through “…will you hose me down with holy water/ if I get too hot?…” with an equal amount of humor and self-deprecation or overemoting, you know all you need to about her. Just get married already.

Last Call

Maybe this wasn’t the best idea. You realized that everyone was excited about karaoke, but didn’t know that it would go this far. There was just a group singalong to The New Radicals. No, this isn’t going to work. THIS IS A THURSDAY NIGHT. You’ve got to get up tomorrow and you didn’t drive. Time to take charge.

Try this: “Okay, okay, you’ve all had your fun. Now let’s go. No? You’re going to keep singing? Fine. Hand me that book of songs and be prepared to have your fun crushed.” This will require a trio of songs that, rather than bringing everyone down, will make them regret ever doing karaoke on a week night. With you. Tonight, you are the destructor. You are Shiva. You are permanently uninvited.

Alanis Morissette – “Uninvited” – Quelle chance. No one likes this song. Not even Alanis Morissette. Eyebrows will be raised.

Zager and Evans – “In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)” – This is probably the longest three minutes and fifteen seconds you will ever have to live through. More importantly, it’s definitely the longest 3:15 the people listening to you sing it will ever live through. Sample lyric – “In the year 4545, you ain’t gonna need your teeth, won’t need your eyes….” At this point, there may be audible groans from the audience. Ignore them. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Barenaked Ladies – “One Week” – Who brought you? You should both leave now, while they’re still only lighting the torches.

Remember to tip the MC.

Walkoff Homerun

But maybe it’s been an excellent night of carousing and harmonizing and now it’s time to make your grand exit. Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered as well. Call it “the Walkoff Homerun.” You swing, you connect, you meet your teammates back at home base. WINNING.

Boyz 2 Men – “Motownphilly” – Grab the crew. Select song. Choose a designated rapper. Harmonize. Croon. Soak in praise. Drop mic.

Bell Biv Devoe – “Poison” – Grab the crew. Select song. Choose a designated rapper. Choose a designated “Never trust a big butt and a smile!”-er. Soak in praise. Drop the mic.

Prince – “Purple Rain” – No, seriously. It’s that good. Solo this one. Kind of lose it on one of the choruses. Recover. Soak in praise. Take mic home, as you have now retired it.

So there you have it. A few foolproof ways to be the Karaoke Closer you always knew you could be. Step up to the microphone with the confidence that no matter the situation, you always know the right song to sing.

Just no more Journey, for God’s sake.

By: Jonathan M. Howard