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Have you ever gone to karaoke and watched enviously as others took the stage while you were too trapped by your own anxiety to give it a shot? Or, worse, have you actually conquered your fear of getting up there only to discover in real-time that you cannot sing a note, and you have the stage presence of soggy pasta? I can rescue you with a single tip—the perfect karaoke song for non-singers who lack charisma: “Tequila” by The Champs.

Even though it’s almost entirely instrumental, this universally beloved tune should be in any self-respecting karaoke DJ’s library. (They may have never had anyone request it before you, though.)

Why is “Tequila” the perfect karaoke song?

“Tequila” is the perfect song for a comedic, no-talent public performance for four reasons:

  • Everyone knows and likes “Tequila,” but few have heard it done at karaoke.
  • The Champs helpfully structured their song around three climactic hooks that can be delivered without any musical skill by a performer who is extremely drunk. It’s even about booze.
  • It is an audience-participation song—everyone wants to scream “Tequila!” with you.
  • It is very short—a little over 2 minutes. You don’t want to overstay your welcome with something like this.

How (and when) to sing “Tequila”

When and where you sing “Tequila” is important. It’s not great in a sparse room or at the beginning of the night. This is a “middle of the evening” song that works best in a room full of folks who are loosened up and starting to get bored with nervous people mangling popular ballads.

Anyone choosing this song and screaming “Tequila!” at something like the correct time will get over with most karaoke crowds, but you can elevate “Tequila” if you’re extroverted, committed, and OK with being a public goofball. In other words: Make it a performance.

Commitment is the main ingredient in any public performance. If you expect others to pay attention to you in any situation—a karaoke bar, public speaking, whatever—you have to at least pretend to be confidence in what you’re doing or saying, so cast off your inhibitions and let it fly. Remember: everyone came to this bar to have fun, make fools of themselves, and watch other people make fools of themselves. The only thing you can really do wrong is look uncomfortable.

I’ve provided a few performance suggestions below to get you started, but do not practice. You’re going for an improvisational feel that should play like you put no effort into it at all—I mean, what kind of weirdo would seriously practice something as ridiculous as singing “Tequila” at a karaoke bar, let alone analyze why it’s the perfect karaoke song?

Verse one 

For the first section of the song, you’re going to keep your energy as contained as possible. You want to look like you’re anticipating the big moment. Stand straight and nod your head slightly and move your lips like you are counting every measure. Look at your wrist occasionally—it’s funnier if you’re not wearing a watch.

When the “Tequila!” part comes, break character completely and deliver your line with a huge smile and big gesture. You’re basically ripping off Andy Kaufman’s “Mighty Mouse” bit.

Verse two

Here, you’re going to loosen up a bit. You don’t have to go huge, but look like you’re having fun. Clap along if you can manage to hit the offbeats right. Move your shoulders a little. Bob your head. Make eye contact with the audience. Point at people when you scream “Tequila!”

Verse three

You probably guessed where this is going: You’re going to do the Pee Wee Herman dance. The crowd has been waiting for you to do this the whole song, and you’re going to give the people what they want. Not necessarily the whole thing (unless you’re a dancing type). The point behind you/point in front of you part is enough.

As the end of the song approaches, feel free to say, “Everybody!” And point/finger-gun your audience. Unless you’re at the most uptight karaoke bar on earth, everyone in the place will scream the final, climactic “TEQUILA!” with you.

No, you should not just choose a rap song instead

Perhaps you’re thinking, “If I wanted to do a karaoke song that didn’t require singing, I’d just choose a rap song.” I beg you not to do this.

Vocals require both pitch and meter, and rap vocals are almost always very complex rhythmically (unlike “Tequila”) and the entire point is to get it right. Unless you know you can do a specific song, you will mess up rap, even a track you’ve heard a million times, and you’ll end up standing on stage mumbling for interminable minutes.



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