Karaoke: 3 Tips If You Can’t Sing

January 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

As I said earlier this week, I had a karaoke competition at work and the winner received a brand new iPad.  I wanted that iPad.  Even though I have no idea what I would do with an iPad, I wanted it because it’s an expensive and fancy item that I could have at the cost of zero dollars and four minutes of my time.

I have been whoring myself out for free items my entire life.  I don’t know what it is, but if somebody offers me a nominal amount of cash or prizes to do something, I’m usually a willing guinea pig.  I lack a lot of qualities, but mostly shame and embarrassment.

However, in this case I would need to drop every inhibition I had in order to have a chance at victory because I can’t sing a lick.  There was a time when I actually was a good singer and used to sing a lot.  I still turn my shower into a packed house at Madison Square Garden from time to time.  But years of drinking, smoking, and excess have left my vocal chords as a barren wasteland of forgotten dreams.

No, in order to win over this crowd I would have to do what I am good at on stage: making people laugh by making an ass out of thy self.

I rehearsed for a week.  I practiced steps.  I choreographed when I would walk into the crowd and start singing directly to people (both women and men, because people find that especially funny for whatever reason.)  I had a single “prop”, sunglasses for when I did the Michael spoken word part of End of the Road.  I was all set.

Then last night I got up there and I nailed it.  The audio recording of my performance would be a joke, but the audience bought into what I was selling and they rewarded me.

iPad, bitches.  I got an iPad.

So how does a guy without singing talent sing a song by some of the greatest vocalists of the nineties and win a competition?  Here are three pieces of advice:

1. Know the Goddamn Words

This should go without saying, but somehow beyond all odds we still see people go up on a karaoke stage and not know the words.  When a person gets up on stage and just stops singing because they are either A.) embarrassed and laughing or B.) just didn’t know what they had gotten themselves into and didn’t know the words, we don’t laugh with them.  We also don’t laugh at them.

We hate them.

It’s a funny sight in retrospect, but at the time it seems like the person gets booed and attacked if they go up there and make us listen a wordless track while they hold the mic and laugh.  It’s not cute.

If Jesus Christ descended upon a congregation of his followers and blessed each of them and healed each of them and said “You are all coming to heaven with me where you will be happy and blissful for eternity,” it wouldn’t be enough to save him if he got onto the stage in front of them and then forgot the words to  “She’s Lost that Loving Feeling.”

He’d be booed off and told to go back where he came from and never come back.

I'm a Terrible Person

I never had to look at the screen while singing End of the Road, so it allowed me to walk around the room and have confidence.  Any lapse in that, and I would have been done.

2. Crowd Participation

This doesn’t work for every song or every person, but anything I could do to turn the focus from me to the crowd, helped.

This includes: Going into the crowd, specifically serenading different people, calling out names, and synchronized clapping.  One of the best parts of End of the Road is the last part, where the guys just sing and the music drops and even in the song itself, it has the “crowd clap” as their beat in the background.

So when I recognized that the crowd was into it, I motioned for them to clap and they did and by the end of it, everyone felt like it was a great performance and that they had a good time.  I’ll do the same thing during sex.  Just a nice slow cap to the rhythm before finishing coitus.  Try it some time.

  3. Pick a Song that Crowds Love

Oftentimes you can get bonus points off the bat just by picking a song that makes people feel all warm and tingly inside.  Don’t confuse this with a song that crowds “used to love” before it became so damn common that they never wanted to hear it again.

This may include:

  • Don’t Stop Believin’
  • Sweet Caroline
  • Fuck Her Gently

Those are just a few of the played out songs that people may hate to hear.  If you know your audience is in the 25-35 range, just try to hearken back to their middle and high school years.  To a song that reminds them of their first crush, their first school dance, their first time having sex, their first time going to planned parenthood, their first time smoking marijuana, their first time smoking meth, their first time selling a baby on the black market.  You know, basically anything most teenagers do.

It’s best if it’s a song they haven’t heard in awhile.  I find that a lot of these songs are played quietly over the loudspeaker at your local VON’S or Safeway.

“What’s Goin’ On?” by Four Non-Blondes.  “Red, Red Wine,” by UB40.  “Whoop There It Is,” by the legendary Tag Team, and of course, Boyz II Men.

I’ve sung BIIM at karaoke bars more than a few times before and every single time it has gotten a reaction.  Sure, the karaoke bar next to my house may have more African-Americans than your average bar, and I may or may not specifically go into their crowd and ham it up with them, but white people like it too.

It makes white people feel like they’re slightly black, and if I’ve learned anything about affluent white people it’s that they want to be black.

I have a few more tips but felt like this post was getting a little long-winded, so I’ll save some for another post.  Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments, and this includes suggestions on what to do with an iPad!

I seriously have no idea what I’m going to use this thing for, but at the price I paid for it, who gives a shit?

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