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The karaoke scene from Lost in Translation
Lost in Translation (2003)

China is blacklisting karaoke songs: here are the ones we’d ban

In an act of censorship, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism is banning ‘bad’ karaoke songs – here’s what we’d put on our list

Earlier this week – in a bizarre act of censorship – the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced that they are creating a blacklist of ‘bad’ karaoke songs. According to Chinese authorities, this means anything containing “illegal content” which could “endanger national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity.” 

Kicking off October 1, the ban will specifically target songs which promote obscenity, gambling, violence, and drug-related criminal activity. Instead, karaoke participants will be allowed to perform songs that “promote core socialist values and protect national culture and ideology”. The ministry also stated that the music performed should be “happy and uplifting” (TBH, we blame anyone who’s ever performed “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for that one). 

So far, no specific tracks have been named, however, the country previously banned the songs “I Love Taiwanese Girls” by Taiwanese rapper MC HotDog and “Don’t Want to Go to School” by mainland Chinese hip hop duo X.J.K due to obscenity. 

As reported in Xinhua News Agency, the rules will be regulated by each establishment’s personal operators and music providers, affecting over 50,000 karaoke bars across the country.

Although we can’t seem to figure out how karaoke became a targeted way of promoting the country’s political interests, we can’t help but fantasize about a world of walking into our favourite dingy karaoke bar without having to sit through a handful of painful numbers.

In light of that, we’ve rounded up Dazed’s own karaoke blacklist – you’re welcome! We recommend you take notes for the next time you find yourself at the mic. 

“COME ON EILEEN” BY DEXY’S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS

Nothing quite conjures up memories of tacky weddings and cringe middle school dances like “Come On Eileen”. In spite of that, the song is still horrifically overplayed and so repetitive that usually, we’re all wishing it’s over by the halfway point. In other words, this song is the perfect excuse to run to the toilets and refill our drinks. Lucky us! 

“BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY” BY QUEEN

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a six-minute-long song, which, frankly, should be illegal when it comes to karaoke. Perhaps, in addition to vetting lyrics, the Chinese ministry should do everyone a favour and ban all songs over three minutes so that we never have to hear this one again. Besides, there’s something deeply unsettling about watching someone (usually a grown man) pretend to be a member of Queen on-stage. Put the microphone down, Brad – you’re not Freddie Mercury.

“WONDERWALL” BY OASIS

Let’s be real, we all knew this one was coming. “Wonderwall” has been a karaoke classic for so long, that now it’s supposedly a “funny” song to perform. We hate to break it to you, but you’re not being ironic – it’s just overdone. Do better.

“SWEET CAROLINE” BY NEIL DIAMOND

We let it slide for the football, now please don’t make us sit through it on a night out. We promise, suffering through the verses just to get to the “bom bom bom” part is really not worth it.

“ANGELS” BY ROBBIE WILLIAMS

This is a great song to choose if you want to ruin the night of everyone in the bar. Why would you pick a song about someone’s loved one passing away? Do you want us to start crying? If this is your go-to, we’re very sorry for what you’re going through, but we strongly suggest that you call your therapist tomorrow morning. 

“MY WAY” BY FRANK SINATRA

In the Philippines, at least six people have been killed directly after performing this song in karaoke bars. It’s uncertain whether that’s because of the song’s prideful lyrics or the unbearable frequency that it’s performed, however, we like to think it’s a sign to avoid it altogether.

“PERFECT” BY ED SHEERAN

This song at karaoke night feels like when the one romantic song plays at a concert and all the couples start snogging each other. Save it for your wedding, and please don’t invite us.

“DON’T STOP BELIEVING” BY JOURNEY

If this is your go-to karaoke song, you are most likely either a middle aged dad reliving his glory days or you still won’t stop talking about how good Glee was in 2009. Either way, we’re tired of hearing it and highly encourage you to stream some new music ASAP.