Exclaim! Staffers Share Their Karaoke Classics

Featuring Avril Lavigne, Creed, Gwen Stefani and lots of Nickelback

Photo: Sydney Brasil

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Dec 21, 2023

Here at Exclaim!, our staffers have a particularly special relationship with each other. When you put 10 to 15 music nerds in a trench coat, it would make sense that they all find something in common. In the least corporate-pizza-party, "we're a family" way possible, we have meaningful friendships with one another both in and outside the office. And like any other friend group, we have our preferred method of debauchery: karaoke. 

Whether at the bar across the street (shout out Tall Boys) or in a sweaty private room, cathartically screaming tracks from the pits of our music tastes is so much a part of us that it's become a tradition. Every year, our holiday party concludes with karaoke, conjuring up Avril Lavigne-inspired witchcraft while turning us all into divorced dads at the hands of Creed. We may be cringe, but we are free.

To honour this Exclaim! holiday lore, our editorial team has shared some favourite tracks to belt out at karaoke. Find them — and the most unhinged playlist you'll ever hear — below. 

Kaelen Bell, Reviews Editor

Prince - "I Would Die 4 U" 
Sade - ​"Maureen" 
Madonna - ​"What It Feels Like for a Girl" 
Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers - ​"Islands in the Stream"  

I love being there for it, but I'm not built for karaoke — performance jitters and a general lack of stage presence means that I prefer to grab the mic when I'm already three sheets to the wind and the chances of remembering details the next day are slim. Regardless of the fear it strikes in my heart, though, I do have my small arsenal of never-fail (well, sometimes-fail) standards: Sade's "Maureen" for when I'm feeling kinda wistful but don't wanna bring down the mood, Madonna's "What It Feels Like for a Girl" when I'm feeling wistful and I do wanna bring down the mood, Prince's "I Would Die 4 U" when the room requires a quick hype-up and Dolly and Kenny's "Islands in the Stream" when I've got someone willing to duet and am hoping to access the root of universal love.

Sydney Brasil, Social Media Manager 

Blondie - "Call Me" 
Gwen Stefani​ - "What You Waiting For?" 
System of a Down​ - "Chop Suey!" 
Alanis Morissette - ​"You Oughtta Know" 
Avril Lavigne - ​"I'm with You" 
Scissor Sisters - ​"I Don't Feel Like Dancing"  
Maroon 5 - ​"Makes Me Wonder" 
Coldplay​ - "Viva la Vida" 
Hilary Duff - ​"Come Clean"  
Aliyah's Interlude​ - "IT GIRL" 

From a probably-too-young age, karaoke has salved my most chaotic endeavours. As such, my go-to tracks have grown and changed with me. My friends and I relive our girlhood while screaming Avril Lavigne and Hilary Duff into the mic, while "Call Me" and "You Oughtta Know" are numbers I bring in and out of retirement. Beyond muddled nostalgia, the best tracks are the ones that build fury inside of you — palpable to a crowd, yet anonymous in nature. This rage can sit anywhere between hexing everyone who's ever crossed me and the mild annoyance when my partner forgets to do the dishes. In either case, the comfort comes in validating those pre-rationalized sentiments — this is most effective while Allie and I duet "Chop Suey!" By reaching that primal place with the people you care for, both in emotion and unhinged personal music histories, karaoke can be a love language — especially when it ends with a Junior Chicken.

Allie Gregory, Online Editor 

Hinder - "Lips of an Angel" 
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Gold Lion" 
​Creed - ​"With Arms Wide Open" 
Linkin Park - ​"In the End" 
Spandau Ballet​ - "True" 
All Saints - "Never Ever"​ 
Tears for Fears - ​"Head over Heels" 
Interpol - ​"Slow Hands" 
System of a Down - ​"Chop Suey!" 
The Outfield - "Your Love"​ 

There are few things in this life that I take more seriously than karaoke — it's the perfect avenue to release pent-up frustrations and work-week woes in the most unserious environment of all. It's cathartic as fuck to scream along to songs that have been embossed on my brain since youth, adding court jester embellishments purely for my own amusement and sometimes to the dismay of karaoke hosts — like when I bust eardrums by scream-singing the ooh-oohs in Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Gold Lion" hook, or when I hit the lower octave to meet Scott Stapp's in my extra-butt rock rendition of "With Arms Wide Open." After hitting the classic 'roake haunts of Toronto's west end for the better part of the last decade, I can say with full confidence that the most popular of my repertoire is "Lips of an Angel" by Hinder, a song that I like to imagine is a counterpart to Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" (see below). 

Alex Hudson, Editor-in-Chief 

Beck - "Loser"
Loretta Lynn - "Coal Miner's Daughter"
R.E.M. - "Losing My Religion"
Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Give It Away"
Jim Reeves - "He'll Have to Go"
Squeeze - "Tempted"
The Wallflowers - "Sixth Avenue Heartache"

For reasons I can't quite explain or recall, my "song" with my partner is "Sixth Avenue Heartache." My favourite karaoke stunt is to imitate Jakob Dylan's husky, mush-mouthed croon and sing verse after verse of total fucking nonsense about a homeless man while my partner does Adam Duritz's harmonies in the chorus. And boy oh boy do we have fun! It was a funny joke until we started sounding actually really good.

Megan LaPierre, Associate Online Editor 

Amy Winehouse - "You Know I'm No Good"
Natalie Imbruglia - "Torn"
Green Day - "Jesus of Suburbia"
TLC - "No Scrubs"
Lucy Dacus - "Night Shift"
Lorde - "Green Light"
Fiona Apple - "Paper Bag"
Shania Twain - "That Don't Impress Me Much"
Destiny's Child - "Say My Name"
Blackstreet, Dr. Dre, Queen Pen - "No Diggity"

There are two running themes of my karaoke picks: being a woman scorned and cosplaying as sexy. Sure, both represent personality flaws and the fantasy vehicle karaoke provides — to make someone feel my pain when I'm a non-confrontational worm or embody a saucy temptress when I'm awkward — but this is also about vocal range, okay? I'm an alto on a good day, so smoky torch songs and '99 R&B it is. If I don't embrace the cringe of a Pitch Perfect moment by sing-rapping "No Diggity," I'll hog the mic for nine minutes to yowl my teen angst on "Jesus of Suburbia." Catharsis is the name of the game, as is getting outside of my (nonexistent, I fear) comfort zone.

Alisha Mughal, Contributor 

Fergie - "Glamorous" 
Green Day - ​"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" 
Nickelback - "Far Away"
Avril Lavigne ​- "I'm with You" 
Nickelback - "How You Remind Me"
Boney M.​ - "Rasputin"
Goo Goo Dolls - "Iris" 
The Killers - "When You Were Young"
Hilary Duff​ - "Come Clean"
Lana Del Rey - ​"Summertime Sadness" 

Karaoke is one of the few social events where the idea of and care for spectacle are suspended. There is not so much a looking at as there is a being with (singing along) when it comes to karaoke. At least for me. The first time I ever did karaoke was before I was on my antidepressants; bracketed by a sapping social anxiety and completely sober, and I hesitantly sang "Glamorous." As the song wore on, I was surprised to find my faltering voice buttressed by that of the collective. I've now curbed most of my social anxiety, I have very little shame (this is often a bad thing), and I've done enough karaoke (thanks, Exclaim!) to be able to say with the utmost confidence that a good session is one that sees you, with eyes squeezed shut, throwing your arm around your friends' (read: Sydney and the sweet girl we made friends with at Tall Boys) shoulders during the impassioned chorus of "I'm with You," or bending over with laughter and trying with all your might to keep up as your sister performs an inexplicably screamo version of "Come Clean." For me, karaoke feels like unconditional love; it's a moment of unblemished joy, and I am endlessly grateful for it, which is really saying something on account of my being tone-deaf. 

Ben Okazawa, Staff Writer 

Natasha Bedingfield - "Unwritten"
Carrie Underwood - "Before He Cheats"
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Keyshia Cole - "Love"
Daniel Powter - "Bad Day"
Alanis Morissette - "Ironic"
Nickelback - "Rockstar"
Tamia ft. Fabolous - "Into You"

As a karaoke rookie whose first time ever picking up a mic and punching an instrumental into the sacred iPad came at an Exclaim! staff outing, I'm still compiling my Rolodex of go-to tracks. But, thus far, I've found the most comfort in classics of my past — songs that have been relentlessly drilled into me by either 2000s CanCon radio, my parents' CD collection, the aux cord in the Subaru hatchback I drove in high school or all of the above. Glitzy pop cuts "Unwritten" and "Bad Day" find me at my most carefree ahead of the happy-sounding but lyrically depressing "Ironic," which acts as something of a segue into delusional ambition ("Rockstar") and full-on rage as I rebut Allie's "Lips of an Angel" with excessive growl on "Before She Cheats" (hey, someone had to do it). Finally, after a silent apology to Keyshia Cole, I knowingly butcher her runs on "Love," and tag-team classic duets "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Into You."  

Calum Slingerland, Print Magazine Editor 

Creed - "Higher"
Nickelback - "How You Remind Me"
Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Give It Away"
The Beatles - "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
Oasis - "Don't Look Back in Anger"
Steely Dan - "Peg"
Thin Lizzy - "The Boys Are Back in Town"
Fleetwood Mac - "Dreams"
The Human League - "Don't You Want Me"
Jamiroquai - "Love Foolosophy"

With multiple staff karaoke outings now under our collective belt, it's a wonder how my colleagues, let alone venue owners, continue to allow me to hold the microphone in their presence. As someone who takes karaoke more seriously than anyone should, here are some memorable highlights from our most recent sesh: Creed and Nickelback are queued up right off the bat, and in gravelly fashion, I lean all the way in. For "Give It Away," I channel the spirit of (suitably clothed) Anthony Kiedis with Alex Hudson in cementing ourselves as the freakiest, styley-est staffers going, while taking on "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" with my girlfriend, as is our White Album-loving wont. Now settled into the evening, I lend my voice to stone-cold belters by Oasis, the Dan and Thin Lizzy. And as for Fleetwood Mac, the Human League and Jamiroquai, consider those to be threats — aces up my sleeve for next time.

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