January 28, 2010

Karaoke 101.

A few days ago, I was talking to a cute girl about karaoke. She made the big mistake of asking me what made a song karaoke-worthy, and I unleashed a five-paragraph rant on the topic that blew her mind. But that got me to thinking -- people other than cute girls need to hear what I have to say. So I present to you, the King Myno's Court reader, my rules for karaoke:

1) Know your crowd. Sing something they want to hear. I break this rule often with Bruce Springsteen songs. The Boss is my personal hero, but his best tunes are awful when it comes to karaoke. No one knows them, and they don't really have openings for the audience to dance or sing with you. The only ones that might work are "Born to Run" and "Born in the USA," and those are way too cliche (or shitty, in the case of "USA") to be respectable choices. So don't be ashamed to forgo your favorites. One of the major joys of karaoke is feeling like an actual rock star, and only an idiotic rock star would sing songs that his crowd doesn't want to hear.

2) Know your song. Pick something that you already know the words to. The screens are there for a reason -- to help you, not to be read from. If you're reading the words, you aren't singing them, and if you're not singing, don't waste our time. I'd rather hear that fat guy behind you sing "Friends in Low Places." He looks prepared.

3) Passion sells. Unless you have a beautiful voice that will bring people to tears, don't just stand there and sing. My friend Walt understands this; his voice isn't great, but he jumps on tables and rolls around and sings along with other people. He's a superstar. I, on the other hand, have a different style. I act out certain portions of the song, gesture wildly and look deep into the eyes of my audience. Use the tools God gave you, and use them often.

4) Check shame at the door. This is unbelievably important. If you bring fear onto the stage, you're going to fail. And you're going to embarrass yourself. Trust me, I've seen it. It's disgraceful. But if you give into the song and stop thinking about what you look or sound like, then you're truly singing karaoke. And by God, you're having more fun than anyone else in the place.

5) Know yourself. Know what you feel comfortable singing, what your voice is able to handle, and how much you'll be able to put into each particular tune. Understanding your surroundings and your song choice is key, but if you force yourself into a situation you're not entirely comfortable with, you are fucked.

And if you're at a loss when it comes to song selection, let me lend you a hand. "I'll Make Love To You," "End of the Road" and "On Bended Knee" by Boyz II Men are filled with passion. "All My Life" by K-Ci and JoJo is the song I plan to sing to my wife before I propose. "Bye Bye Bye," "Larger Than Life," "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" and all other popular boy band songs will bring back wonderful memories. My friends swear by "Total Eclipse of the Heart." "Sweet Child o' Mine" and all popular Hootie and the Blowfish songs are obvious options. And, of course, "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith is the best karaoke song of all time. This has been confirmed ten times over by yours truly.

Finally, the most important rule is to be drunk. Not so drunk where you forget the words or fall over, but drunk enough that, even if you forget all the rules I've just presented, you'll have fun anyway. Just don't be surprised when everyone boos your shitty karaoke-singing ass off the stage.

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