Monday, January 23, 2006

The Karaoke Rules

     I should just go ahead and state the obvious: I dig karaoke.  Don’t get a chance to do it very often, maybe twice a year, but that’s more because it’s not going to be on Miller’s ‘Guys Night Out’ campaign anytime soon.  There’s a stigma attached to it, and most people are terrified of even going into a club despite never checking it out firsthand.  Makes gathering a group kind of tough.  
     With that in mind, I’d like to point out ways to help embarrassment-proof a first time.  To dismiss the myths that drive most fears: you don’t need much of a voice to do well.  You don’t need super-confidence to entertain the crowd.  And keep in mind: once you’ve had a good experience, it can be a fantastic high and addicting.  
     What’s the trick?  Your choice of song can do it all for you.  Seriously.  The pick is no less than two-thirds of the game.  It’s huge.  Here’re the ropes:
  1. Your favorite song isn’t likely your best.
Counter-intuitive, but important to consider.  Just because you like it doesn’t mean it’s within your vocal range.  Rather, lean more to what would get everyone else in the room excited.  
  1. A slow love song for your girl/boyfriend is suicide.
This is a cardinal rule.  First, nothing’s less likely to keep your nerves down.  Second, if a slow song does one thing well, it puts you out there with nowhere to hide.  Missing a note happens to everyone, but faster songs let you skip on past the mistake while these songs force you to hold it in humility.    
  1. With the right pick, vocals won’t matter at all.
I swear it’s true.  Tons of good picks stay in the vocal range of speaking.  And don’t forget, there’s a fantastic cheater’s trick in karaoke songs: go with an easy laugh.  (Ex. Ice Ice Baby, Baby Got Back, Don’t Cry Out Loud {maybe that’s just my love for Drop Dead Gorgeous talking}, My Heart Will Go On – {guys-only}{watch out for that last verse, it’s a doozy!}, Evenflow {best of luck to you if you’re going to try and get the lyrics right, it’s better off if you just play with it}, I Touch Myself, Somewhere Out There)
  1. Don’t read, have fun.
Hopefully you picked a song that you’re somewhat familiar with, and to have the best time, get your eyes off the prompter once in a while.  Move around a little.  Make like you’re in front of a mirror.  Make like Seal, get a little crazy.  Trust me, it’s far more entertaining for the audience than watching a sight-reading.
  1. Sing asap
Tip that doesn’t get out enough: hanging out in a room full of smoke while downing shots and beers doesn’t help you out with the high notes.  Unless you want an unhappy surprise at a high note, get your song in and done with quick as possible.  Have a shot or two of liquid courage, but don’t waste time.  Additionally, the longer you wait, the more you might get nervous.
  1. You don’t have to sing if you don’t want to.  
Best way to get out of singing when your friends are pressuring you?  Fill out a card for a song, go up to the DJ, and ask him to throw it away for you.  Or pocket it, or turn it in with made up gibberish on it.  When the friends want to know what happened to it, shrug and wonder along, or go up to the DJ to “check.”  But the reality is, most people will respect your sitting out.
  1. Etiquette: only one or two a night, and encourage everyone else
Maybe this is more important after your first time, but both are important.  Even if you’re good, no one appreciates an attention hog.  You may want to show off the concerts you perform during long car drives, but let everyone else have a crack.  Plus, don’t be the jack that makes voices when someone else hits a bad note or struggles through a song.  When you’re up there, you’ll never miss a mean reaction and it’s painful.  Try and help maintain a light and enjoyable atmosphere for the night.  Almost everyone is going out on a limb; don’t be an ass and turn it into the gong show.

Songs to avoid (or ones to talk your drunk friends into later in the evening):
More than a Feeling
Living on a Prayer – for your consideration: Jon Bon Jovi can’t hit those notes anymore in concert.  
Unchained Melody
Angel - Aerosmith
Mr Jones

Songs so popular, no one will hear you as they loudly sing along
You Can Call Me Al
Bohemian Rhapsody
If I had a Million Dollars
You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

The rest is getting past stage fright.  If you’re a normal person, you’ll get it, even after you’ve done karaoke a few times.  It’s fine.  Just don’t let it take over.  It’s like asking out someone for the first time; you just need to let go ahead and throw it out there.  Besides, if you bring your good friends with you, they’ll be supportive even if you do have a rough try.  That or you need new friends.


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