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15 of the Most Requested Karaoke Songs

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Picking the perfect karaoke song can be a tough choice. The song has to be popular enough so people can sing along with you, but easy enough for a karaoke beginner to master. In honor of National Karaoke Week, which kicks off today, here are 15 of the most requested karaoke songs.

1. Michael Jackson — “Billie Jean”

One of the key reasons why this is one of the perfect karaoke songs is because it gives you  the opportunity to do the Moonwalk (or try to do the Moonwalk) in front of an appreciative group of people. "Billie Jean" is the second single from Michael Jackson’s sixth solo album, Thriller, and is one of the easiest to MJ songs to sing.

2. Weezer – “Say It Ain’t So”

From Weezer’s first self-titled album (also known as the Blue Album), “Say It Ain’t So” highlights catchy rock vocals and gives people the opportunity to play “air guitar” on an amazing guitar solo. The song also launched Weezer into icon status as one of the best rock bands of the '90s.

3. Natalie Imbruglia – “Torn”

What better way to honor a one-hit wonder than to sing their song, which is one of the most requested karaoke tracks of all time? The opening lead single track from Australian Natalie Imbruglia's Grammy-nominated debut album, Left of the Middle, is actually pretty tough to sing, so make sure to warm up with something a little easier before attempting this one.

4. Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire”

The first single from Kings of Leon’s fourth album—Only by the Night—“Sex on Fire” was an international number one hit song in the United Kingdom and Australia, but never found that type of success in the United States. The song gained popularity when it won a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and was later featured on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show compilation album.

5. Adele – “Someone Like You”

The inspiration behind Adele’s “Someone Like You” was a past broken relationship. It serves as a popular request by the newly broken-hearted; while the song seems easy and simple, it’s not for karaoke novices. Its piano accompaniment cannot hide vocal mistakes and its range goes from deep to high at a short moment's notice. “Someone Like You” is a pro level karaoke song, so drink up and don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself if you’re not a pro.

6. Radiohead – “Creep”

A very popular song among newly jilted young men, Radiohead’s “Creep” conveys strange painful feelings in a perfectly timed pop song. Radiohead’s debut single from their first album, Pablo Honey, is easy to sing and is the best way to live out your rock n’ roll fantasies as you pine over your former lover’s memory.

7. Madonna – “Like a Prayer”

Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” is one of the most requested songs by karaoke enthusiasts. The music video was controversial thanks to its use of Catholic imagery, while the song’s gospel-like structure and hooks make it really easy to sing along to.

8. Bruce Springsteen – “Born in the U.S.A.”

Is there a better song to rally an audience with American patriotic passion? Bruce Springsteen’s most popular single is also his most misunderstood. While many mistake its American nationalism surface for unbridled patriotism, “Born in the U.S.A.” is a song about the negative effects of the Vietnam War on working-class Americans. Its catchy arena rock structure masks its deeper themes.

9. Sir-Mix-A-Lot – “Baby Got Back”

With the first line in the song—“I like big butts and I cannot lie”—Sir-Mix-A-Lot conveys so much about what we perceive as beauty and what we actually find beautiful and attractive. The song was the only number one hit from the Seattle-based rapper; “Baby Got Back” serves as the perfect novelty song and a popular karaoke choice. Sir-Mix-A-Lot also won a Grammy Award in 1993 for Best Rap Solo Performance.

10. The B-52s – “Love Shack”

Although The B-52s have been making music since 1976, “Love Shack” became their biggest hit song in 1989. The song stands as the perfect mix between a novelty and nostalgic pop song, which makes it one of the most requested songs at karaoke bars across the country.

11. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “I Love Rock N’ Roll”

Originally written and released by the rock band Arrows in 1975, “I Love Rock N’ Roll” was popularized when Joan Jett & The Blackhearts covered the rock song in 1981. The song continues to be an anthem of youthful rebellion and casual sex as the music video launched MTV in the music cable network’s early beginnings. “I Love Rock N’ Roll” is one of the most requested songs because it’s simple to sing for karaoke beginners and pros alike.

12. Sublime – “Santeria”

Released after lead singer Bradley Nowell’s death in 1997, “Santeria” is the punk-ska band's biggest pop song as it crossed the niche genre into mainstream pop culture status. The song cracked the Top 5 on Billboard’s music chart and continues to be popular on video games like Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band 3.

13. Alannah Myles – “Black Velvet”

This song from Canadian singer/songwriter Alannah Myles hit number one on Billboard’s music chart in 1989. The song stayed on top of the charts for two weeks and earned Myles a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocalist. The song was inspired by a bus ride to Graceland in Memphis for the 10th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. “Black Velvet” continues to be a karaoke staple around the world.

14. “Summer Nights” from the Grease Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The most requested duet was made popular by the film adaptation of the musical Grease. The song was a big hit in the United States and the United Kingdom, while the record went gold and platinum, respectively. In the film, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sang the duet about a high school summer romance, while couples re-enact the absurdity of wholesome Americana in karaoke bars.

15. Journey – “Don’t Stop Believin’’”

“Don’t Stop Believin’” is often described as the perfect rock song and an anthem for anyone who hasn’t lost hope in the face of adversity. The song found new life in 2009 when the TV drama Glee performed it in their premiere episode. The song is the biggest hit from the San Francisco-based rock band and remains Journey’s most popular song; in 2011, it became the most downloaded song on Apple's iTunes store with over 5 million digital copies sold.

Sources: US Karaoke Alliance; Squidoo; 999thepoint; RequestYourSong.com; PartySpecialists.com; the writer's personal karaoke experience.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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