Karaoke Advice: Last Minute Tips For Emily’s Party

Regular karaoke singer Lindsey Weber has developed very strong opinions about what constitutes the proper etiquette of karaoke–everything from song choice to mic-handling technique. Her opinions (while regarded trustworthy by some of the greatest karaoke’ers in town) are her own, so feel free to disregard. After all, if you’re just dying to sing “Don’t Stop Believin’”* you’ll probably just go ahead and sing it. Send your karaoke questions for Lindsey to karaokeconfessional AT gmail.com.

Grantland’s Emily Yoshida is having a Karaoke Party this weekend. She also has lots of questions. “Cosmic timing,” she says, as she emails me her rundown. “I’m running out of questions,” I respond to her. We’re in agreement!

Can Emily’s party woes help you in your karaoke time of need? Let’s go through.

What’s the best thing to do during a very long instrumental? I usually give a speech, but sometimes I end up saying things I regret, so I’d like a safer option.

I love when people tell jokes. My bartender sings “All That Jazz” every week, so she knows the EXACT timing of the interlude–making it perfect for her to plan out a different joke every time. God forbid, however, that you misjudge and get cut off. If you’re not going to speak out, a silly dance will do? Maybe you do some fancy walking around the bar? Maybe you shout out someone’s birthday? Do an impromptu song dedication to an old friend? To a new friend? Your options are endless. Don’t just stand there.

I can’t get through “Video Games” without cracking up, but I know I can nail it vocally. Tips?

I’ve mentioned this before, but if you take Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” is a wonderful choice for any singer of any skill. But, alas, you have to take it seriously. Do an impression of Lana doing an impression of you. It’s just confusing enough to work.

What’s the etiquette when a friend is bombing (and not in a funny way) in a booth situation? I usually smile encouragingly and go “Woo!” a lot, and feel disingenuous, but it’s not like I’m Simon Cowell up here. I’m not even Britney, tbh.

You aren’t Simon Cowell and this isn’t The X-Factor. You just smile and clap. Sing along! Help them out if you think they are struggling, you judgey judger.

What do you do when you bring a friend up to sing a song as a duet and have a pre-planned thing like “I’ll sing the first verse, you’ll sing the second, and then we’ll harmonize on the chorus” but then the song comes on and they’re sloshed and just steamroll the whole thing? It’s like come on, am I the only one who has a chorus background here?

This is an important question. Duets are duets–usually, you’ve got the MAN and WOMAN part all planned out for you (or MAN/MAN, WOMAN/WOMAN, don’t discount “The Boy Is Mine”). But what the songs that you want to share, but don’t split it up? How do you handle? If you’re SERIOUS and CIVILIZED like Emily and I, you switch off verses, singing the chorus together. You can harmonize! (Can you harmonize? Try!) Or sing background vocals (See: “Midnight Train to Georgia”). If you’re too drunk to figure this out, well, I can’t help you.

I have a few “karaoke friends” that have definitely seen me sing a few songs probably more than ten times. Do I need to vary it up around them or is it endearing to hear me slur through “Criminal” for the 19th time?

Sing a new song! If it’s your Karaoke BFFs, they’ll understand and love you for it.

In my dreams I slay at Beyonce, but in reality she is completely out of my range. Just double checking, I should never use the key change function, right? It takes all the wind out of the song, right?

You’re not alone. See this column from a few week’s ago for a full rundown of Beyoncé.

Is there a specific crowd/generation that responds more to Jimmy Eat World songs than others? One time I sang “A Praise Chorus” at a bar and everyone was going nuts, then I tried it again later at the same bar, and … crickets. Same with the Goo Goo Dolls. Maybe you could supply some song suggestions based on the crowd that happens to be present?

It all matters if your crowd REMEMBERS THE ‘90s. Do they REMEMBER THE ‘90s? Are you at a metal(ish) bar? Don’t sing “JEW.” Are you at a dive-y old school bar with lots of older dad types? Don’t sing “JEW”. Are you at ANY OTHER BAR/KARAOKE PLACE? Sing “JEW.”


REMEMBER THE ‘90s Crowd: Goo Goo Dolls, Jimmy Eat World, Third Eye Blind, Matchbox Twenty, 2Pac, Destiny’s Child, (old) Mariah Carey, Everclear, Marcy Playground, Counting Crows…etc….etc…
Old School Dad Vibe: Motown, Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, Fleetwood Mac, The Bee Gees, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, REO Speedwagon…etc…etc…
Metal(ish) Bar: Pat Benatar, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Nirvana, Queen…etc…etc…

How cool do I look when I can sing “What I Got” by Sublime without looking at the video screen?

No comment.

Finally, this isn’t a question but a public service announcement/request: Baby Ketten Karaoke needs to exist in every major metropolitan area. I’ll kickstart an L.A. franchise.

I’ll take NYC!

Previously: Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Lana Del Ray

Karaoke Advice: How To Force Your Friends To Sing

Karaoke Advice: Beyonce, Queen and Meatloaf

Karaoke Advice: KPop, Dancing, & Drinking While Singing