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10 Tips to Take the Scare Out of Karaoke

April 11, 2002|Julia Gaynor

1. If you're nervous, just look at the screen, not at the crowd. No one will care if you don't make eye contact with them, and if the screen's up on a wall, you'll just look as if you're singing to some people in the back of the room anyway.

2. Pick a song you've sung along to at home or in the car or shower a few times so you at least have a vague idea of how it goes.

3. If you start singing and suddenly realize it's the chipmunk version when you were hoping for a Barry White baritone, don't be afraid to ask the karaoke host to change keys or change the speed. Most machines can do this.

4. Eat the microphone. Professional singers say the best way to get quality sound from a karaoke mic, especially in a loud room, is to hold it as close to your mouth as possible.

5. Pick upbeat songs later in the night--especially on the weekends--because people like to party and dance. If you're desperate to do a weepy ballad, do it early, do it midweek, or get a private room.

6. If you're having serious performance anxiety, pick a crowd pleaser--songs people can't help but sing with you or dance along to, so the focus is on your song, not you. Consider Billy Joel's "Piano Man," Elton John's "Rocket Man" or the ubiquitous "I Will Survive."

7. If you're tone-deaf and you know it, this does not exclude you from seizing your three minutes of stardom on the karaoke stage. Just rap it or sing-speak it if you have to. As long as you have personality, people will still love it. And if they don't, they'll still clap. "Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band and "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot are popular nonsinging songs.

8. If the crowd gets rowdy and doesn't seem to be paying attention to your song, don't take it personally. It's not "Star Search," it's a night out with friends.

9. Don't be afraid to tell singers what a great job they did. Everyone loves praise, and where else in this city can you comfortably talk to random strangers?

10. Remember, no matter how bad you think you are, someone else in the room is bound to be worse.

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