How to rock at karaoke

Karaoke is one of my all-time favourite activities. Whenever one of my mates asks me, ‘What do you want to do tonight?” the answer is almost always, “Karaoke”. I am a total karaoke queen. I bought a Playstation two years ago purely so that I would have something to play Singstar on. I only own two non-Singstar games, so my Playstation is essentially a bastardised karaoke machine. Being that I’m a self-confessed karaoke aficionado, I thought that I would put together a little how-to guide for all you novices out there, to ensure you get the most out of your karaoke experience.


Choose your venue wisely.

There are basically two kinds of karaoke club. The first is the Japanese-style club, where you get your own private room. There is usually plenty of comfy seating, drinks and relative privacy. You will have your own karaoke machine, which gives you total control over the songs you sing and who hears you. This option is best for first-time karaoke-goers, shy singers or parties. My favourite Japanese-style karaoke place in Melbourne is The Shanghai Club, which is located off Chinatown. It has a huge neon pink sign, so you can’t miss it. The reason that I love it is that, while most places charge around $10-15 per hour, The Shanghai Club only charges $15 per head and they throw in a free drink. Once you’re paid up, you can stay for as long as you want, until about 3am, when the club closes. It’s the best value in town.



On the other hand, there are western-style karaoke bars, where you sing on stage in front of the other patrons. This option is great for show-ponies and experienced karaoke singers. While these bars offer less privacy, you do get a bit more of a thrill when you sing in front of a group of people. Some places even give out prizes and free drinks to the best performers. In Melbourne, my favourite western karaoke bar is Charletons. The atmosphere is really relaxed, there’s no heckling or jeering and everyone is just there to have a great time. Their karaoke is free and the drinks are reasonably priced. If you’re a good performer you could also score yourself a couple of free drinks.



Take the right friends.

If you’re nervous about singing in front of a group of people, you want to make sure that the group you’re with is kind, with a good sense of humour. You know those friends you have who like to take the piss out of everyone, are super-sarcastic and a bit nasty? Yeah, don’t take them with you to karaoke.



It might also be a good idea to take along one or two people who have done karaoke before, or who love to sing. These people are great to get the ball rolling and encourage others to join in. It’s always awkward deciding who will sing first, so it’s great to have a mate there who is likely to grab the microphone the second you walk in.



Pick a tune you know well.

When it comes to singing your first song, it’s always a good idea to choose one that you know inside and out. You’ll feel more confident singing a song that’s familiar, which you know the lyrics to. Although it might be tempting to jump in and try something really ambitious first up, choose a simple ditty to start the night off. Wait until you’ve found your feet before you start belting out, “I Will Survive”. My favourite karaoke tunes are “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin, “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane and “Come Together’ by The Beatles.



Group songs are always a hit.

Pick a couple of songs that people can sing as a group. Duets and power ballads are a great way to include the wallflowers. It’s much more comfortable to shout along as part of a group than to take the mic by yourself. The following songs are great for singing as a group:

– Summer Loving by Olivia Newton John and John Travolta

– Love Shack by The B52s

– Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi

– Joy to the World by Three Dog Night

– Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

– Rock and Roll All Nite by Kiss

– Enter Sandman by Metallica

– Paradise City by Guns and Roses.



Don’t be a microphone-hog.

Karaoke can be intoxicating. Once you’ve sung one song and it’s gone well, you just want to sing another, and then another. You’ve got to let others have a go though, otherwise they’ll start to turn against you. Take it in turns to choose songs and make sure that everybody gets a shot.



Put on a show.

Some of the best karaoke-singers I know can’t sing a note. The people I love watching the best are the ones who really sell their act, and put on a show when they take to the stage. My mate Josh is the best example of this. Years ago, we headed out to Charletons for a night of karaoke. Josh jumped on stage to sing Rick Astley’s 80’s classic, “Never Gonna Give You Up”. Although Josh’s vocals were somewhat abrasive, he started gyrating like a demented wedding singer. By the end of the song, everyone was cheering for him, and he even scored himself a free drink as a prize. Even if you aren’t confident in your singing ability, if you can throw in a couple of cheesy dance moves, you’re golden. However, if you’re singing “I Touch Myself”, by The Divynals, you must, under no circumstances, touch yourself on stage.



Don’t heckle or jeer.

It’s not cool to make fun of other people during karaoke. No matter how bad it is, you must never make fun of another person’s singing ability, song choice or dance routine. Ever. It’s rude and nasty, and if you do this, you can pretty much guarantee that nobody will invite you to karaoke again.



Relax and go to it.

Karaoke is meant to be a laugh, so don’t take the experience too seriously. Don’t beat yourself up if you hit a bum note, fall off the stage or fumble with the lyrics. Just laugh it off and keep going. There’s no use being stuffy at karaoke. You’ll have more fun if you just let go, relax and have a great time.

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