Karaoke duets aren’t just for the romantically involved; God forbid we ever imply that. In fact, singing a duet in karaoke is the perfect way to ease stage fright by allowing someone sing alongside you without committing one of karaoke’s most abhorrent sins – three plus people singing a song together, every lyric in unison. That’s a truly awful thing, we can all agree on that. But a duet, a true duet, is a great way to make new friends, calm nerves and maybe even fall in love. I know two different friends who found their match through the joy of karaoke. Whether or not they were doing true duets, I do not recall, but my advice is that you do so. Here are some suggestions of some contemporary (and very romantic!) choices.
Whatever you do, avoid “Summer Nights.” No one wants to hear that.
Ashley Monroe & Blake Shelton – You Ain’t Dolly (And You Ain’t Porter)
A play on the relationship between Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, who both sang together and fought each other. You might remember “Please Don’t Stop Loving Me,” but not well enough to sing it. Ashley Monroe (whose “Weed Instead of Roses” would kill, if you’re solo) enlists Blake Shelton (charming country singer, The Voice judge and duet partner for his wife, Miranda Lambert) to mimic the love-hate Dolly/Porter relationship in a series of negs that are cheeky enough for any singer to woo the crowd. They even call out karaoke with the line “That’s cause I’m the reigning queen of karaoke night / Well if I get drunk enough to sing, hell I just might.” It’s meant to be.
Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen – Good Time
Remember Carly Rae Jepsen? “Call Me Maybe” is so last year, but her follow-up duet with the Owl City Guy is strangely fun to take on at karaoke. Thanks to the “Whoa-uh-oh”s, there’s no need to properly harmonize and with lyrics like “Let’s hang out if you’re down to get down tonight,” the whole thing can be pretty adorable. Modern love!
Janelle Monae & Miguel – Primetime
If you’re taking on “Primetime,” 2013’s most romantic song, be prepared to be and/or fall in love. It’s inevitable: “Cause baby it’s a primetime for our love / Ain’t nobody peekin’ but the stars above / It’s a primetime for our love / And heaven is bettin’ on us.” Swoon.
Ariana Grande & Mac Miller – The Way
If your vocal chops are up for it, this duet from Ariana Grande and Mac Miller is great for karaoke – her verse is catchy and his rap equally so, “You’re a princess to the public, but a freak when it’s time / Said your bed be feeling lonely / So you’re sleeping in mine.” Beware, though, as this duet features lots of “I love yous,” which could be misinterpreted depending on your partner.
Rihanna & Drake – Take Care and/or Rihanna & Mykki Blanco – Stay
Two Rihanna tunes, both perfectly acceptable for karaoke. “Take Care” is for those who can keep up with Drake’s unusual rhythm, while “Stay” is for the singers. Both are lovely, duetable and best suited for late, late night singing.
Lady Gaga & R. Kelly – Do What You Want
Your local karaoke joint might not have Lady Gaga’s newest single yet, but they soon will, so get prepared. Thanks to these two, “Do What You Want” is super sexually charged – so if that’s what you’re going for, go for it. After all, “Pony” isn’t a duet, so this is your next best option.
Icona Pop – I Love It
You might think this doesn’t count, but in fact it’s actually perfect. There’s barely any singing (mostly just harmonic yelling), let alone any harmonizing, so it’s a wonderful way to coax someone perhaps not really into the idea of karaoke into singing it with you.
BONUS: Two Duets To Be Wary Of
P!nk & Nate Ruess – Just Give Me a Reason
The duet that topped the charts this year. “Just Give Me a Reason” is actually a great song – if you want to break up with someone. It’s depressing as hell, and has you singing things to each other like, “I’m sorry I don’t understand / Where all of this is coming from / I thought that we were fine.” Literally transcribed from breakups around the world.
Katy Perry & John Mayer – Who You Love
I’m not saying Katy Perry & John Mayer’s real life relationship is doomed. Okay, that’s exactly what I’m saying. This song is cursed and if you sing it, you will be also.