There’s a bit of skill involved in picking karaoke songs. First: Do you like the song you’re about to sing? Good. (Ironic karaoke should only be deployed in private, if at all.) Second: Can you sing it? (“No” is actually not a dealbreaker here!.) Third: Do you know what you’re getting into? This is probably the most important question of all, and it involves a little bit of preparation, both at home and in sitú.
Read the room. If you’re among friends, it’s probably fine to bust out "Bungle in the Jungle" or the one Uriah Heep track buried in the back of the book. At a crowded bar? Maybe pick something a bit more crowd-pleasing, like, I don’t know, “Rock & Roll.”
Remember the words. Including the verses. So many songs out there with catchy choruses, that have utterly unmemorable verses. Don’t let humming along for the first 45 seconds of a song happen to you! It sucks the air out of your performance and out of the room.
Figure out the song’s karaoke arrangement. I call this The "Personal Jesus" Rule. While that Depeche Mode hit has a nervy, pent-up sexuality to it, the karaoke arrangement of the track has reduced even the most steely-eyed Dave Gahan wannabe to eyerolling by its end. Why? Because of its incessant instruction to have the singer repeat the phrase, “Reach out, touch faith” approximately 4,085 times as the guitars and electronics clang around him (or her). It’s a terrible, drawn-out ending to a song that should be a banger. Thanks to streaming music, however, karaoke offerings from the likes of Ameritz and Sunfly are easily accessible online, so you can do your homework beforehand and figure out whether your song of choice has a 38-measure instrumental break or a wholly new verse that was only heard on a remix.
Watch for pitfalls. Some of your favorite songs to sing while you’re in the shower might be much more difficult in front of a larger audience. I’m thinking mostly of songs that are largely in monotone; they actually wind up being harder to sing than one might think, since doing so essentially involves sustaining the same note for long periods of time.
Don’t be afraid to gender-bend. It’s 2018! You can definitely be a dude and rip through "Work Bitch"or be a woman who’s singing aboutMercy not thingking she's pretty , a la Jani Lane. Sometimes vocal ranges can take you to new and exciting places.
Tug the nostalgic strings. I will always sing a song from the Headbanger’s Ball vault, because they are super fun to perform and they usually trigger memories in even people I haven’t met. “Possum Kingdom” by Toadies is also a big crowd-pleaser, all the way to its halting close.
You can put it in practice at The George Payne! Karaoke night every Thursday!