On the heels of KoL's excellent new album, ''Mechanical Bull,'' the singer, 31, talks New Orleans karaoke, loving Whitney Houston, and more

By Ray Rahman
October 04, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

The first song I was obsessed with
I remember the first time I heard Ben E. King’s ”Stand by Me,” I flipped out. I was about 8. Before I went to school, I’d press ”record” on the oldies station. When I got home, I’d go through the whole tape — and then I found ”Stand by Me.” I used to just play it and rewind and stop it and play it again and rewind it.

The song that reminds me of my first crush
[Sighs] That would be the Bodyguard soundtrack. I was definitely Kevin Costner to her Whitney Houston.

The first album I bought
Southern Accents by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers…. I don’t know, something about it drew me in.

The first song I ever performed in public
It was my 18th birthday, on Bourbon Street. Me and my brother and my cousin were all underage, but we snuck into a bar and we sang [Wild Cherry’s] ”Play That Funky Music.” That was actually the first time I ever got on a stage and sang. And a woman flashed us and we all looked at each other and were like, ”All right, I guess this is what we’re gonna do forever.”

Artists you wouldn’t guess that I loved
Growing up, I was a huge Boyz II Men fan. What was that one album called, II? I used to sing it all the time. I used to listen to, like, that and Keith Sweat and all kinds of R&B music.

My going-out music
LCD Soundsystem is always good to get you in the mood to go and have a good time. I don’t really know the names of their albums, though — you can just pick one. [Laughs]

Music that reminds me of home
Harvest Moon by Neil Young. My wife always plays that. [It’s] a good record to drink to, cook to, take a bath to, or whatever it is.

My go-to karaoke song
”Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)” by John Michael Montgomery. It’s just fun. And you know, the drunker you get, the harder it is, so it’s a lot more fun.

The song I play for my kid [his daughter, Dixie, is 15 months old]
She’s pretty much obsessed with anything from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. [Sings] ”Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggety dog, now we got ears, it’s time for cheers!” I get it.

My jukebox jam
”If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me” by George Jones. Usually if you’re in a bar and there are guys sitting there, when it comes on they all raise a glass.

The song I wish I’d written
”Clay Pigeons” by Blaze Foley. It paints such a picture that when you listen to it, you hope that’s you he’s singing about.

The song I don’t like to play live
Well, there’s a song called ”Ragoo” [off 2007’s Because of the Times] that’s really good, but it’s a lot of hard work.

The song I want played at my funeral
I remember watching Tommy Boy and [they played] ”Amazing Grace” on bagpipes. I was like, ”That’s gotta happen at my funeral.” Bagpipes don’t really fit my heritage, I guess, but I would have to say ”Amazing Grace” in some way, shape, or form.