Last week I was kindly invited to karaoke by a a friend at work – from a group I don’t usually hang out with. It was super super fun and I’ll do another blog later about the different places where you can do karaoke in Frankfurt but I thought for starters a post on karaoke itself might be useful.
I was sat with a few people who hadn’t been to karaoke before, so, as karaoke queen (I LOVE it…) I gave them a few pointers, which I want to share with you in this post.
Now, you’re thinking I’m being silly. Karaoke is karaoke. Get up, sing. That’s it, right? Wrong. Karaoke is an art. You need to follow very delicate rules to ensure that it’s a success. And with these, I’m not talking about pub karaoke – this is your typical Asian karaoke place, where you have your own room.
1. It’s not a singing contest.
In my experience, the people who can sing really well – I mean, really well – are the ones who are the most boring to hang around with at karaoke. They’ll usually choose obscure songs that no one has heard of (more on this later) just so they can show off their voice. When this happens, everyone in the room will be doing something else and no one will be paying attention. I’m not saying don’t pick songs you can sing well – I’m saying put enjoyment of the song over how well you can sing it.
And for those who aren’t that good at singing – it’s no big deal. I can’t sing very well either (at stage school as a kid I was the worst student in my singing class…) The key is to find good songs to fit your voice (which sounds contradictory to the previous paragraph …) that are still fun to sing. Try to find songs that you can sing with someone – so you can guarantee at least one other person in the room will know that song and it’s not just you being on X Factor. For me, my “warm up” song is actually a song very few people have ever heard of, but the nature of the song is that I call on people while I sing, which involves the people around. The songs I can sing well are the Frank Sinatra- type songs. These also tend to be crowd pleasers as well as suiting my voice.
2. Pick your songs wisely.
This is a tricky one, especially if you don’t know the crowd very well. Sometimes the group will be a ‘modern songs’ group, sometimes 80s hits will be better. Sometimes you’ll luck out and get a group that has a really varied musical knowledge so you can sing loads of different stuff – the guys on Friday knew a load of stuff so it was nice to pick older songs and have people appreciate them. If there is a song you really love then by all means try it out on your group. I have discovered many songs I now love from people singing new songs there. But if people are playing mainly 80s pop and you whip out some Adele, you can expect the mood to be broken a little.
3. Don’t alienate people with too many foreign songs.
You can sing some Japanese/Korea/whatever songs? Awesome. If you are living in that country then it’s a nice way to up your language skills and share some of your adopted country’s songs with your friends. However, if you are not in that country and you are the only person in the room who understands that language, it can be very boring for all your friends.
4. Don’t hog the mic.
This is easier said than done sometimes. Especially at the start of the night when no one is putting in songs. It was easier in Japan because we could pass the little machine around and everyone was forced to put something in. Here it’s often the case that you have to go up to the machine, so it’s easier to pop 3 songs in at once there.
5. Learn your limit and respect others’.
Karaoke is fun. But there gets to be a point in the night where it’s just groups of people shouting. It’s usually around the 1am mark. That’s when I leave. There are other people who stay until 4am. I have one tantrum-prone friend who often gets really upset if people leave before the first train in the morning. I cannot do this. 2am is probably my limit. Deal.
6. Bohemian Rhapsody is for late in the evening, and is for everyone.
There are some songs that are not “your” song to sing. You put it in, yes. But put that mic down. There are some songs that are for everyone to sing equally. Sit back, join in with everyone and enjoy.
As I read back through this, I realise I sound really mean and bitchy. I take karaoke seriously. We used to be *so* good at it in Japan, and used to do themed karaoke all the time – like 90s only, Christmas only, or ‘shiritori’ (a Japanese game where the last letter of the word before has to be the first letter of the next word… so with karaoke you could have – Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Tubthumping, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Nothing Compares To You…)
Let me know if you have some karaoke rules that you and your friends follow!