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11 Karaoke Tips To Take You From Zero To Hero
Karaoke is a fun and versatile activity you can do with friends, family, or coworkers.
It’s a great way to spend time entertaining each other. Whether you do karaoke for fun or take it seriously, we’ve come up with a list of the best karaoke tips the next time you get on the mic.
1. Know Thyself
Know yourself, that is, know the difference between the songs you like listening to and the songs that you can actually sing.
Consider asking yourself these questions:
What’s your vocal range?
What songs go with my voice?
What genres fit your singing style?
Who are the musicians that you aspire to sound like?
You don’t have
to necessarily be versed in the technicalities, you just have to have a good
idea of what song will showcase your voice the best.
2. Be Strategic
Continuing the first tip, a self-assessment can be really helpful in knowing what your options are, song-wise.
Do you have a deep low voice? Try a classic jazz track like Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight”, or a country favorite, John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Road”.
What about if
you have a soft voice? You can go for a song along the lines of Joni Mitchell’s
“Big Yellow Taxi”, Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” or Vanessa Carlton’s
signature pop hit “A Thousand Miles”.
If you know you’ve got the pipes, you should still make sure that you don’t strain your vocal cords.
Choose songs that have a good balance between high and low points, for example, Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”’ and ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” have stanzas that are easy to sing and have short pauses before reaching the chorus.
You don’t want a song that will drag you into hoarseness like “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Jon Bon Jovi or ACDC’s “Highway To Hell”.
You want to keep your breathing in check, so you don’t end up catching your breath or panting throughout the song.
3. A Little Prepping Goes A Long Way
Look at karaoke as a skill and like any skill, you can only get better with practice.
If you’re attending a karaoke event that’s been planned in advance, use that time to practice the songs you want to sing.
If it’s a spur of the moment decision to do karaoke, you can take a few moments to warm up your voice.
You can do some simple vocal exercises like humming or saying tongue twisters. You can also try relaxing your neck, your shoulders, and releasing the tension in your jaw.
You can recall the songs you’d like to sing, maybe give the song a short listen on your phone to make sure you remember the melody.
This will save you from any embarrassing blunders like singing off-key or missing the beat.
4. Song Selection is Key
Choosing a song for karaoke can get overwhelming.
There are literally thousands of songs to choose from. This is why it’s important to already have a good gauge of your singing skills and to know what kind of songs work best with your voice.
There are obvious danger zones reserved for the ones who are either really talented or really intoxicated.
These are the Adele, Beyoncé, Guns n Roses kind of songs. Very few have been able to pull off the third key change in Beyoncé’s “Love On Top” and have lived to tell the tale. The same can be said for Guns n Roses “Sweet Child of Mine”.
Unless you’ve been doing vocal exercises for a week prior to this karaoke event, it would be wise to stay clear of these artists.
5. Beware of Karaoke Traps
A karaoke trap is often a song that sounds like a good idea up until you’re actually singing the song.
“Wannabe” is probably everyone’s go-to Spice Girl song but this song only really works if you are an actual group singing and if at least one of you can do Scary Spice’s rap right after the third chorus.
“Stop” on the other hand, is an equally popular Spice Girl song that is less complicated. The song also has its own choreography, so if all else fails, you or your friends can just dance to the song.
Another kind of karaoke trap is the songs that have really long guitar solos and instrumental parts where you will be to just sit there so make sure you know how the entire song goes before choosing it.
6. Some Songs Are Not for Karaoke
There are also songs that sound like they’re good ideas until they are sang in the style of karaoke.
A good example is Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”, it’s a wonderful song that’s easy to sing along to but does get a little dull along the way. Another example is “Wonderwall” by Oasis.
Though it is a popular song choice, this classic rock song is the kind of song that works best when everyone is half-singing/half-screaming.
The primary reason why these songs don’t sound as good in karaoke is that the instrumental element is a really important element to the song.
The same rule applies to most hip-hop and rap songs, singing “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot can result in a potentially awkward situation. Unless you know the words by heart and you have an internal rhythm that’s on point, this genre is a dicey option.
7. Don’t Be Afraid of a Duet
Karaoke Duets can turn into great bonding experiences. It’s a good way to get rid of the pressure you feel from singing solo.
Duets are especially better when you’re doing it friends. Sometimes, you might end up doing a duet with a person timider than you, you can take on the role of a good karaoke buddy and encourage them.
Sharing a song with someone also makes singing it more fun. Go-to duet songs that are really easy are “Power of Two” by the Indigo Girls and “Cruisin’” by Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow.
8. If in Doubt, Go for the Crowd Pleasers
Pop songs and the classics are always safe choices.
You can do a quick search for top karaoke songs and see which song you’re the most confident performing. Songs like “Hey Jude” by The Beatles, and “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes will definitely rally your group to join in.
You have a good chance of entertaining the crowd or the people you’re with because the songs are familiar and will appeal to a general audience. Getting the crowd to sing along with you can also make up for whatever singing or performance skills you may lack.
Some machines will let you adjust the echo on the mic or the key of the song in the machine but this isn’t always the case.
Either way, you want to turn the equipment available into an asset, not a liability.
Hold the mic with ease, place it just below your mouth tilting upwards.
Keep some distance between your mouth and the mic.
If you’re a soft singer, you could hold the mic closer to your mouth but not too close that the words become swallowed and inaudible.
You also don’t want to scream into the mic for the high notes so adjust the distance between your mouth and mic accordingly.
10. Get Involved
Karaoke is essentially a group activity.
It’s not something you can really do alone as it does involve some audience participation. This is why it’s important to know who you’re singing to or with.
There’s a vibe for every group; a mood to every occasion.
Are you amidst a cheerful crowd blasting the latest pop songs where every song sounds like the last one?
Is the crowd feeling a bit nostalgic and want to stick to a certain era of music, like 90s rock or 80s electro?
Or is it the kind of evening that’s a bit more melancholic? The kind that calls for rock ballads where people bring up their latest break-up along with a setlist dedicated to that event.
The chemistry between the performer and the audience is important.
Being a good audience member is at the very core of basic karaoke etiquette.
Applaud and cheer on your fellow performers, you want to make sure that you’re keeping the energy going and that everyone is having a good time.
11. Performance Over Vocal Skills
People tend to think that karaoke is a singing contest. It’s not.
Karaoke isn’t about hitting all the high notes or about singing a song exactly the way the original artist sang it, at the end of the day, it’s all about having fun.
Karaoke is your chance to shine.
Make the song you’re singing your own, put energy and personality into it because it is your time to take that spotlight. When you’re singing a song that you like and you’re having a good time doing it, that good vibe will definitely reflect on the people there with you.
Remember, a passionate performance is more memorable than one that’s just on-key. So, don’t take yourself too seriously, grab the mic and put on a show!