Karaoke is (sort of) an art. Everyone can do it, but not everyone can, to quote American Idol's increasingly irrelevant Randy Jackson, "blow it out da box." Which is why I came up with these amazing tips on my ten-minute car ride to work this morning. Because I care about your next performance and want it to be remembered for all the wrong right reasons.
1. First of all, don't be that annoying dude/lady who hogs the song catalog the whole time and waits for everyone else to sing. We know you want to sing Madonna's "Like a Prayer," so just do it. It's going to be awful, anyway.
2. Pick something somewhat upbeat. No one wants to feel your emotion in the lyrics or whatever -- get it out of there! -- especially when your singing heartfelt ballads like "Remember When," "You're Still the One," or -- sweet Jesus, please, no -- "Your Song." By the way, "Your Song" is one of my specialties, so back off. (That's pretty much all I sang during my first few years of karaoke, and I hate myself for it every day.)
3. If you've gotta go the ballad route, I've gotta go to the bathroom. But while I'm gone, do something tongue-in-cheek cheesy that people can sway back and forth to and hold up their lighters sarcastically. "Up Where We Belong," maybe.
3. Avoid the stage-shy duet partner. This "Should I sing or not, OMG?" piece of dead weight is only going to drag you down to the "I've Got You Babe" dumps, where you don't belong, if you agree to split a song with him/her. Don't do it!
4. If you get up on stage and have an "Oh, $***!" moment, which are kind of like A-ha! moments only a lot $***ier, just go ahead and tank. You couldn't save your crappy performance if Celine Dion floated down from the heavens above and started humping the harmony. Not to mention the audience would prefer to laugh with you, not at you. But we'll laugh at you, too, so don't worry.
5. If you're awesomely bad, own it. I always marvel when someone who knows their singing abilities are nonexistent marches up on stage and sings their favorite song (horrifically), just because they feel like singing. People are far more likely to remember this kind of performance than that forgettable, crowd-pandering rendition of "Chicken Fried" (by yours truly). Next!
6. Ad-lib with curse words. It's always funny to insert an F-bomb into a song that's got a lot of boom-shaka-laka whoomp-there-it-is to it, you know? (This isn't necessary if you've selected "Magic Stick" by 50 Cent and Lil' Kim.)
7. Bring your drink with you. You'll need something to do during the awkward instrumental breaks.
8. Call people out. You've got the mic, which means you've got the power. Express yourself by embarrassing others, and the crowd will be Silly Putty in your capable hands.
Follow Jay Clark on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaypatrickclark