Depending on our level of interaction over the course of the last few years (or if we even know each other), you may or may not know that I have an obsession with karaoke that (I hope) lands just this side of unhealthy. I enjoy any karaoke joint that has a solid book and a diverse group of people. I have a regular spot that I like to go to, but I’ve noticed some troubling trends starting to crop up that have lead me here, formulating this absolutely definitive list of rules for any and all karaoke nights.
1. Don’t Be Scared
Are you gonna sing? No? Why not? What do you mean you can’t sing? Have you heard some of these people? The first rule is pretty simple: this is karaoke, not American Idol. There is no cash prize, no record deal, no new car waiting at the end of the evening. This is a bunch of (likely) drunk people out having a good time, they won’t care that you’re slightly tone-deaf, because there’s a good chance that they are even worse. So don’t tell me that nobody wants to hear you sing, as that’s more or less the reason you go to a karaoke night in the first place.
2. Go Big Or Go Home
Okay, you’ve put your name in the rotation, that’s awesome. But while you are now beyond criticism, you have not earned appreciation. This is not as hard as it would seem. As I literally just said, you do not have to be a good singer, but you do still have to try. Everyone’s heard the awfulness that is someone singing under their breath, and it’s easy to blame this on nerves, but those feelings of nervousness are just going to perpetuate themselves by not trying. Don’t believe me? Well, you just watch, because as soon as you finish your monotone take on “Don’t Stop Believing,” you’re going to be hit with a solid wall of silence fueled by the utter lack of enthusiasm from the crowd who would have gladly given you at least pity applause if you would have put in one ounce of effort.
3. That’s Entertainment!
Sticking with the topic of the audience, this is an important thing to keep in mind when making your song selection: you are the entertainment. So pay attention to the crowd that’s there and try to pick a song that you and they both like. So if you see a bunch of dudes in leather jackets, maybe it’s not a great time for John Denver. Several groups of well-dressed young people out on the town? Maybe save the Motorhead until after they leave. Sea of unironic cowboy hats? Well, still go ahead and sing The Ramones, because screw those people.
4. Variety Is The Spice Of Life
Another thing to keep track of is the kinds of songs that have already been sung. If there’s been an abundance of country tunes, maybe look to a different genre, hair metal’s always a safe choice and are you trying to tell me anybody’d be offended if you butchered “Sister Christian?” That’s practically what it’s for! And this also applies to whomever is running the karaoke, don’t be a slave to the order in which the names were submitted. If one person has to wait for one extra song so we don’t have four country ballads in a row (which honestly happened last Friday), I think it’ll be okay, and they probably won’t even know the difference.
5. Branch Out For Crying Out Loud
There’s probably a decent chance that you have done karaoke in the past and that you have one song that you know you rock harder than all others. It’s your go-to song, the song that you know that if there is karaoke, that is the song you will sing. That’s fine, I have songs I’ve done several times, there is absolutely no shame in repeating yourself (despite what some people might say, not naming names). But if you find yourself a regular to a certain karaoke night, you’re there every week, singing to a crowd of similarly regular attendees, please, for the love of God, mix up your song choices. I know you and your buddy rock “Nothin’ But A G Thang,” but we’ve heard it… every week… for a freaking month. You can sing it again somewhere down the line, but give it at least six weeks. Do it for us.
6. Fun, please!
There is only one reason anyone goes to karaoke night: it’s fun (yes Hollywood, stop depicting it as a sign of lonely desperation, I mean it!). But you know what aren’t fun? Country ballads. So please stop singing them. Yes, you’re cute as a button, and I’m sure “Jesus, Take The Wheel” is your jam, but literally noone wants to hear that. Not even the people who like that song. If you must sing Carrie Underwood, do “Before He Cheats” or “That Other Song She Has That Probably Sucks, But At Least Isn’t Boring,” that one’s pretty good.
7. Just Think, Wouldya?
I know karaoke tends to be a goofy affair, and I’m not saying you’re not allowed a throwaway song here and there, but please try to have a point. Yes, I’m talking to you, guy who karaoked Ashlee Simpson’s “Pieces of Me.” Seriously, why did you do that? It would be one thing if that was a song that had managed to stay in the public consciousness, but it’s not, it’s a forgettable song that, surprise surprise, was forgotten. Your trotting it back out is pointless and dull, knock it off. Also, please try to avoid the Top 40, unless you have a reason. So while yes, your rendition of “Someone Like You” is decent, it’s also very straightforward, accomplishing little beyond reminding us of the 50,000 other times we’ve heard that song this week.
8. Stop Singing “Black Velvet!”
Nothing else needs to be said about this.
Please keep these simple rules in mind the next time you find yourself paging through a song book. The rest of us and our ears thank you.
Posted under Kyle's Adventures in Pop Culture
This post was written by Kyle on March 2, 2012