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The Spinoff’s complete guide to killing it at karaoke

Published: (Updated: ) in New Zealand News by .

How to karaoke like a boss, no matter your singing skills. New Zealanders love to sing. And when I say New Zealanders, I mean our Māori, Pasifika and Asian communities, obviously. We sing to make a point, to support each other, to tell stories. We sing to our gods, we sing when we’re sad, and […]

How to karaoke like a boss, no matter your singing skills.

New Zealanders love to sing. And when I say New Zealanders, I mean our Māori, Pasifika and Asian communities, obviously. We sing to make a point, to support each other, to tell stories. We sing to our gods, we sing when we’re sad, and we sing just because we like the sound of our own voices.

I think that’s why we love karaoke so much – it’s already ingrained in us that singing has many functions other than “performance”. Having a good sing song is something we share with the Irish and most religions, but I suspect it comes from a very primal, God-shaped need in all of us to howl at the moon or chant or express joy with noise. To anyone that hasn’t yet experienced the joy of it, I say – plug that god-shaped hole with karaoke.

Since its birth in Japan in the early 70s, karaoke has become the ideal accompaniment to a night out all over the world. It’s the literal best. A common misconception is that you have to be “good” at singing to be good at karaoke. This a lie, a falsehood, a fallacy. People who are good at karaoke have merely picked up some tricks that make the experience enjoyable for them, and for the people listening. It’s about what works for you. Personally, I have a narrow range, and I lose my voice easily, so I like slow songs because they’re low effort but there’s room for DRAMA. I’ll usually only do one or two songs, and I sing for me, not to put on a show for someone else (unless my friends are hyping me up, then it’s all “welcome to the Moulin Rouge”).

Here are some of my tips, to help in the battle against karaoke hesitancy, and some etiquette for old hands to think about too.

Do

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TFW when you don’t know the Lisa Left Eye verse in ‘Waterfalls’ 

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Don’t

Songs to stay away from

Tell me to go punch myself in the face by all means, but as a veteran of karaoke, these are some of the most common mood killers I’ve witnessed in both public and private rooms.

The Eagles – ‘Hotel California’

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The thing people forget is it’s more instrumental than singing, and watching you sway awkwardly as it fades out for two whole minutes is a waste of everyone’s precious time. I want the literal hours of my life spent doing this back, Dave. I want them back! See also: David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’. It’s a cool song but with a 44 BAR INSTRUMENTAL OUTRO.

Waiting for ‘Hotel California’ to end like… 

Eminem – ‘Forgot About Dre’

Congratulations, you know the “Nowdays everybody wanna talk” bit. Quantitative evidence suggests you don’t actually know the verses, and by the time you realise this, you’ll be in too deep, frantically trying to keep up with the words on the screen like a concussed newsreader with a haunted autocue, making us all feel bad for you.

Adele – ‘Hello’

The low verse, high chorus is one of karaoke’s biggest traps. This will draw you in with its opening lovely, low “hello” but that’s about the only note of the song in your range. The chorus will turn your vocal cords to sandpaper and cause your audience’s ear drums to rupture. See also: Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Since U Been Gone’ and Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. Unless you know you have the range, probably best to stay away from Whitney, Mariah and Céline too (although ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’ is pretty manageable since it sounds fine if you sing it an octave lower than Céline does).

The Cranberries – ‘Zombie’

Dolores O’Riordan RIP was an artist with a specific gift. You will sound like a goat made of bagpipes being beaten to death with a vuvuzela. The Cranberries’ other big hit, ‘Dreams’, is however a delightful choice.

Queen – ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Journey – ‘Don’t Stop Believing’

You don’t really need me to explain why, do you? Look, be the 55,678,899th dudebro to do either of these, Dave, but I just think you’re a better, more creative human being than that. I just want more for you.

“ScaraMOUCHE, ScaraMOUCHE, will you shut the fuck up, Dave”

Happy karaoke-ing!

Source: The Spinoff https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/14-05-2021/the-spinoffs-complete-guide-to-killing-it-at-karaoke/

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