1. PICK THE RIGHT SONG
The worst karaoke I’ve seen was the St. Patrick’s Day when I eventually lost my virginity; we walked into a bar to the sounds of a very, very drunk middle aged man dressed like a teen hobo singing “Fly” by Sugar Ray. He was so gone, so lost, always singing the wrong part in the wrong place, it was practically cubist.
Don’t let this happen to you! That song never goes anywhere and makes no sense. Take, on the other hand a tune like “Light my Fire”. It’s got that amazing buildup to the last verse and chorus where the vocal line blows up. You won’t lose your place in this mother. It helps if the song is about something straightforward too. Abstract indie rock lyrics won’t help you connect with people; songs about real life will.
Another feature you want to avoid is a song with loads of reverb or chorus on the vocals, a song like “Don’t bring me down“. Your vocals will never sound like solid chrome going through a karaoke machine so unless you have ten people to sing it with you, stick to stuff that isn’t cheese-in-a-can processed.
2. HOLD THE MIC RIGHT
The space of one fist between your mouth and the mic is what the pros say is best. It’s tempting to go in too close because it’s more forgiving, but you’ll turn in a better performance if you don’t, and force yourself to work a little. If you find your voice sounding too muffled, or too much bass, you can pull the microphone away a little bit, and work your mouth harder to articulate the words. You should also employ the diva mic-moving technique when you hit high notes, pulling the mic away from your face slightly as you increase in volume. Otherwise you might get this reaction.
3. START LOW
There are three steps to getting the notes right when you’re singing a song. The first is to hope to hell the song you chose is in your range. There is no way to know this; the songs on karaoke machines can be in any key, they pay no respect to the original key because the artists who sang the originals were probably better singers than you or I, who sang higher than we care to after seven drinks. When the tune comes on, start singing in a medium-low pitch if you can find it. Once you’re warmed up you can jump an octave if that suits you. It sounds much better to build the intensity that way than it does to have to drop down an octave when the chorus starts because it is too high for you.
Some people tend to sing a bit flat when they’re nervous, others a bit sharp. Another factor that influences this is whether a person is singing at the bottom of their range, where they risk being sharp, or at the top of their range, where they might be flat on notes they’re not quite capable of hitting. When you see a singer with their finger in their ear, that’s them trying to hear themselves to get the pitch exactly right. You may find this useful whether it helps you sing better or makes people laugh at you.
If you notice you are flat, don’t push harder, just aim your voice up at the ceiling and the note will lift. Ditto if you are singing sharp; sing to the floor, aim your voice at your feet, and you can correct this easily.
When you’re practicing with a friend for your big night out, find out whether you tend to sing flat, below the pitch, or if you’re more of the sharp type, signing the notes a little too hard and coasting over the pitches, so you can correct it.
4. BE A SHOWPERSON
If you’re not into the song no one will be. Think about the words you are singing and feel them in your whole body. Try the technique explained here. You’re singing karaoke, so it’s time to be a diva. Find a song that connects with you, you are performing and sending a message to people. The secret is conviction. Flat or sharp, people will love you if you are convinced with the words you are singing to them.
5. BUY THE GANG A ROUND 10 MINUTES BEFORE YOU’RE UP
This is just common sense. The secret to good karaoke is a drunk audience. In fact if you can ensure at least two obnoxious people are more drunk than you, you can scrap the rest of this list. Have fun out there.
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