A big part about working in the sports content business is the willingness to put yourself out there. You have to be bold, willing to stand behind picks and ideas, and not afraid to look like an idiot from time to time.
It’s no surprise, then, that this group of sportswriters and editors love — and I mean love — karaoke.
With the 2021 NFL Draft’s first round commencing on Thursday, April 29, we decided now was the perfect time to draft our favorite karaoke bar songs. In normal times, these would be our go to picks that, with or without the aid of liquid courage, we love to sing and think would be crowd favorites.
Our group of karaoke GMs for this exercise is eight-fold and includes (in order of pick):
- Chip Patterson (CFB writer): This was his idea
- Barrett Sallee (CFB writer): SEC Media Days karaoke legend
- Adam Silverstein (Editor): Underrated karaoke snob
- Tom Fornelli (CFB writer): Once passed for a member of the band Korn
- Ben Kercheval (CFB writer): Can’t sing, knows it, doesn’t care
- David Cobb (CFB & CBB writer): He’s a little bit country …
- Matt Norlander (CBB writer): … And he’s a little bit rock n’ roll
- Jack Crosby (Editor): Was not a member of the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Since the library of eligible karaoke songs is limitless, we went a full seven rounds to curate our ultimate set lists. Overall, there was a good variety of musical choices. You want to try to cover as many bases as possible but also have personal favorites and crowd-pleasers. Or, like some of the GMs [/glares at Norlander], you’re pulling exclusively from the deepest, most personal archives of musical fandom.
Even with all of that variety, there are just too many damn good sing alongs. A seven-round draft is not going to be enough and there are going to be legitimate snubs. Which you can share with us, gently, at the Cover 3 Podcast.
On to the results …
Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks
Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
Purple Rain – Prince
Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus
Don’t Look Back in Anger – Oasis
Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-a-Lot
Holy cow, two Miley Cryus picks in the first round! I need to know more about Tom, in particular. Is this documented anywhere? Can it be? The top two picks were gimmes, but the rest of the team sprinkled in some more unique answers. And by unique, I mean Oasis. You only get once chance to make a strong first draft impression, so here’s why we chose what we chose.
Barrett Sallee: Full disclosure: I don’t like this song at all. But karaoke isn’t about me, it’s about my fans. No song gets the crowd going like a good song along, and Sweet Caroline is a crowd-pleaser. The point of karaoke is fun, right? So let’s have some fun and join together in some good, old-fashioned fun.
Tom Fornelli: Listen, this first song is a statement of intent. Karaoke isn’t about just getting on a stage and singing songs you like. Karaoke is about commanding the room and keeping everybody involved. So, like Miley, I’m swinging into the room on a dang wrecking ball, and we’re all about to tear this place down together. Bangers only.
Ben Kercheval: There are actually two things that come to mind about when I think about “Purple Rain.” I think of Prince, obviously, but I also think of Adam Levine actually kinda killing it in this cover. This song bangs and I will love it until the end of time. I will never do it justice, I will not try, but I will commit when singing it. That’s the heart and soul of a good karaoke song.
David Cobb: Aside from being one of the greatest musical works of the 21st century, “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus makes for an excellent karaoke choice because of how accessible it is to the casual singer. It only takes 40 seconds to reach the chorus, and once the chorus arrives, it takes little synchronicity, harmony or talent to belt these legendary lyrics in a way that will be sure to get everyone in the audience amped up.
Jack Crosby: When this draft topic was chosen, this was the first song that popped to mind. One thing people might not know about the Scranton, Pa. area — that you won’t learn on “The Office” — is that we have a heavy bar scene here with almost every spot doing karaoke on a regular basis in some form. “Baby Got Back” is a song that people love to get up there and belt out after downing a few cocktails, and it always seems to get everyone else in the bar involved as well which is also key.
500 Miles – The Proclaimers
You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette
I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston
Mr. Brightside – The Killers
Two Princes – Spin Doctors
Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
Pour Some Sugar on Me – Def Leppard
Bombs Over Baghdad – Outkast
Every Rose has its Thorn – Poison
Ms. New Booty – Bubba Sparxxx
Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
Juicy – Notorious B.I.G.
Killing Me Softly – Fugees
Piano Man – Billy Joel
Forgot About Dre – Dr. Dre & Eminem
Forget You – CeeLo Green
Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson
Hey Ya – Outkast
Say it Ain’t So – Weezer
“Tha Crossroads” – Bone Thugs N Harmony
Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars
Sing Along – Sturgill Simpson
Fight For Your Right – Beastie Boys
Africa – Toto
I Want You To Want Me – Cheap Trick
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Elton John & Kiki Dee
Misery Business – Paramore
Gangsta’s Paradise – Coolio
Any Man of Mine – Shania Twain
I Want it That Way – Backstreet Boys
Made in America – Toby Keith
Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker version
Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
Regulate – Nate Dogg & Warren G
Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
Everlong – Foo Fighters
September – Earth, Wind & Fire
Nuthin’ But a G Thang – Dr. Dre
Flagpole Sitta – Harvey Dnager
Paradise by the Dashboard Light – Meat Loaf
Single Ladies – Beyonce
Love Shack – The B-52s
Your Love – The Outfield
Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
Rolling in the Deep – Adele
Like any good draft, the real meat of your performance is going to be here. Getting steals for songs others have ridiculously undervalued is a big component. And, again, there are so many good choices. But these rounds are when the individual’s personality comes out. You get to the see the kind of music they love. That yields a good mix of familiar songs — “Mr. Brightside”, “Love Shack” and “Time After Time” are hits — with some more individual choices like “Any Man of Mine” and “Ms. New Booty.”
Chip Patterson: First and foremost, shout out to Bucket Shop in Charlotte, Karaoke Sundays at He’s Not in Chapel Hill and the numerous dives, bars or rent-a-room spots I’ve frequented over the years. My inspiration for this draft was those places, imagining what did and didn’t work to capture the room’s attention and appreciation. That’s why you’ll find a lot of singalongs in my draft, starting with the GOAT “Friends In Low Places.” From there: the call and response on “500 Miles” is an easy win if you’re shy, “You Oughta Know” not only rocks but Kevin Malone’s performance of it on The Office has to be noted, “Mr. Brightside” in the fifth is the steal of the draft and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is great because no one knows the words to the verses or will listen but they’ll hear “when the night falls” and jump right in to sing along even though no one in the room can hit the high note on “heat.” Finally, I saw Matt Porter, excellent NHL writer and reporter for the Boston Globe, absolutely slay the room with “Two Princes” in what he said was his first time ever doing karaoke. We were all so hyped by the performance we sang it on the street the whole walk home, and I knew I had to pick the Spin Doctors tune as a tribute to what I saw that night.
Matt Norlander: I mean, what is there to say? Let the music speak for itself. Tough scene: there are a lot of obvious but played-out choices made by some other owners here. Tunes long past their expiration date. My team, however, has bangers spanning myriad eras and genres. Somewhat-forgotten classics and downright irresistible anthems. I go with Oasis in the first round — transatlantic appeal — and then it’s eargasm mastery from there on out. “Flagpole Sitta” in the final round is the definition of value pick. “September” sitting there for me midway through is a devastating commentary on my competition. And there isn’t one human alive who doesn’t like Al Green. Hey, Ben, do we have to sing these as well? If so, wanna see Fornelli on the mic immediately.
Adam Silverstein: “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a consummate karaoke song, and it should have gone No. 1 overall, so I feel like I took a Kyle Pitts (best player in the draft) at an immense position of value. Following that up with “Livin’ on a Prayer” at No. 13 overall felt like an equal steal, so much so that I could get more creative choosing a couple universally known rap songs and a top-tier R&B hit. “Piano Man” in Round 5 may be the steal of the draft, and wrapping up with “Forget You” is a great way to end a set with a fun, well-known song that is easy to sing no matter how much you have consumed, especially if you can get the explicit version.
Chip Patterson: Strong list, front to back. “Friends in Low Places” has to be one of the most well-known karaoke songs ever, right? Completely worthy of a No. 1 overall pick. But then it keeps going. “500 Miles”, “You Oughta Know” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” are like picking up starters in the second, third and fourth rounds. “Mr. Brightside” in the fifth might be the steal of the draft. And then some more offbeat but appealing pickups in the late rounds. This set list is about belting one out with all your best friends. It gives you the range you want, but they all resonate. Even “Call Me Maybe.” Maybe. Grade: A
Barrett Sallee: Like Chip, Barrett went for a sure thing at No. 2 overall with “Sweet Caroline.” I’m telling you, even if you don’t know all the words — and I promise you, a lot of people don’t — everyone knows the chorus. Or at least the parts you’re supposed to shout. Good pick. The meat of Barrett’s draft includes a lot of classic rock, but some late-round Outkast and Bubba Sparxxx are big nods to his home field. This draft has an identity and, although a little hokey at times, I kind of respect it. Grade: B-
Adam Silverstein: “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a fine first-round selection. I don’t hate it at No. 3 but I also don’t think it’s No. 1 overall, as Adam suggested. But I do agree “Livin’ on a Prayer” might be the top pick in a loaded second round. You really start to see Adam’s personality come out in Round 3 with “Juicy” and there are some eclectic picks in the later rounds. There are no real bad picks, but only a couple that get me really excited. Grade: B-
Tom Fornelli: I have to hand it to Tom. My jaw dropped when I saw “Wrecking Ball” go in the first round. It dropped again when, in the second round, Tom drafted “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson. Tom. And so now I’m thinking about Tom singing “Wrecking Ball” and “Since U Been Gone.” And now I need to know what this looks and sounds like. I’m even thinking about “Uptown Funk.” Well done, Tom. Well done. Grade: B
Ben Kercheval: Ben picked a downright iconic classic with “Purple Rain” in Round 1, so he jumped out to a good start right out of the gate. Following it up with a Beastie Boys song which usually gets everyone in attendance involved kept him on a nice track. From there, he has a nice mix of some aged tunes with quite possibly the GOAT Paramore song thrown in. Not a bad haul at all. (Jack Crosby) Grade: B-
David Cobb: You know what? Hats off to David for going in a unique direction. Again, Miley is in the first round, but “Party in the USA” is her better karaoke song. But then he mixes in some Shania Twain and Backstreet Boys in some underrated Day 2 picks. The mid rounds keep with the country theme, but “Time After Time” in the seventh is an incredible late-round signing. Grade: B+
Matt Norlander: This carefully curated list of songs is very Matt Norlander. And dear reader, it is a journey. If you had asked me, blindly, who drafted these songs, I would tell you it was Matt Norlander. And I 100% believe Matt Norlander has sung these songs at karaoke. But I can’t remember the last time I heard “Everlong” at a karaoke bar — if ever. But, man, “September” and “Flagpole Sitta” are insane late-round steals. Grade: C
Jack Crosby: Picking up “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” was the choice that stood out to me most in the second round. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it is memorable. I love that Jack branches out with “Single Ladies” and “Before He Cheats”, and “Your Love” is a slick fifth-round pick. But if Jack is going to roll with Adele, so to speak, he’s not even going to try “Someone Like You”? Wasted potential. Grade: D-
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