Maybe it is time for the office party and you want to impress that cute IT guy, or it’s a night out with the girls and you want to impress the entire bar. Microphone in hand, it’s finally your chance to shine on the stage, belting out classics on the karaoke machine. But how do you turn your silly karaoke song into a virtuoso performance? You don’t need to have the greatest voice in the room, you just have to be able to take the risks and make yourself fabulous.
Some people are blessed with wonderful singing voices, some can train to have them, and some are hopelessly unable to follow a tune. Whichever category you fall into, it doesn’t preclude being a good karaoke singer. If you have a voice that makes birds sing along with you, be sure to take on a show stopping number that will show off your range and abilities. If the birds tend to fly away when you open your mouth, try finding a song that doesn’t require much actual singing, but rather relies on fast-spoken lyrics or easy melodies. Play to your strengths, it’s just as impressive if you can rocket off the words to REM’s tongue-twisting “It’s the End of the World (As We Know It)” as it is to belt a perfect version of Whitney Houston’s “I will Always Love You.”
It certainly helps to know the style and the mood of the song you will be singing. Is it a smoky ballad, a hard rock classic, or a sappy song from a musical? Think of performers you love to watch live and imitate them onstage; if you’re taking a slow and sexy Fiona Apple song, get close to the microphone and croon to the best looking person you can see from the stage. Whatever type of song you are singing, remember this rule of thumb: good karaoke singers flirt with the entire audience while on stage.
Try to find a song that you know the lyrics to already. It will help you concentrate on giving a good karaoke performance if you do not have to keep your eyes glued to the lyrics screen. If you can’t find anything you know perfectly, try to at least find a song that you know the melody and the chorus to, and just check the screens to get an idea of the words to each verse. Don’t panic if you miss a lyric or skip a line; chances are, no one noticed but you, so if you act like you didn’t do anything wrong, your audience may never know.
Do not be afraid to let loose and have a lot of fun. Dance around the stage, practice your Janis Joplin shriek, imitate Mick Jagger’s high-stepping walk. Your audience may laugh, but the more you commit to what you are doing, the more they will be laughing with you rather than at you. Unless you are a professional performer, karaoke may be your only chance to get on the stage and work for that applause. Don’t let nerves or embarrassment get in the way of a good karaoke performance; winning applause is one of the most exhilarating feelings on the planet, and it may even inspire you to want to get up there and get more.
A word of warning to adult karaoke-goers: karaoke is most often held at bars or upbeat restaurants, which can lead people with a few too many martinis in them to give embarrassing performances. Try to avoid drunken karaoke, unless your intention is to give your friends a chance to make fun of you for years. Good karaoke is about enjoying yourself and entertaining others; try to be sober enough to remember what you sang in the morning.
Karaoke can be a great way to blow off steam and let your inner American Idol loose. As long as you can remember to relax and be free to be silly, you will enjoy yourself and entertain your audience. And remember, if you get requests for encores or the audience bursts into cheers, it’s never too late to change careers and be a star.