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.
My friend Yuna Park is a brave karaoke-r. Daring as they come, Yuna has been known to tackle everything from K-pop to Britney Spears b-sides. She is also as inquisitive as they come, so when I put out the call for questions, she came running–well, digitally running to my Facebook page. In seconds, the questions stacked up. And they are diverse enough not only to showcase Yuna’s karaoke devotion, but to hopefully helpful to the masses.
Yuna Asks: How do you hit the high notes in Mariah Carey’s “I Still Believe”?
Yuna Asks: Is it creepy to go falsetto when doing MJ’s Jackson 5 throwback stuff when you’re in your 20′s?
Absolutely not. Michael Jackson was always beyond his young years, so you shouldn’t be afraid to belt out some classic Jackson 5. This is especially useful for the sopranos out there–”I’ll Be There” is a sing-a-long classic, and soon enough you’ll have the entire bar crying.
Yuna Asks: Is it ok to sing K-pop songs that are 35% English and 65% Korean in a non-Korean bar?
Probably? Unless you’re with a big crew of friends who know the songs too (or in a small karaoke room!) you might wanna save the K-pop songs for…Korea? Sorry if that is rude, I am a huge fan of K-pop (BIGBANG-WHAAATUP) but you’ll want the crowd on your side. You always do.
Yuna Asks: In my defense, the karaoke bars I usually frequent are Korean-owned and carry K-pop books! Also, note that I am talking about serious K-pop, not just viral hits like PSY’s Gangnam Style.
Yuna Asks: When are dance moves encouraged? Always, sometimes or never?
Always. Fully embrace your inner pop star and break out some thematic moves. Dancing while singing is a tough feat, so make sure you are skilled enough to maintain proper breath and hit all those crucial notes.
Yuna Asks: Is it just me, or do you also require a mic stand for optimal performance?
I don’t require one. In fact, I don’t really know what to do with one when I have it. Do you grip the middle? Do you lean with it? Do you kick the bottom and do that thing that singers like Usher do where the stand comes back to you? I just don’t know.
Yuna Asks: How can I muster up the courage and pipes necessary to belt out “Midnight Train to Georgia”?
Girl, that song is ruined every day of the WEEK in karaoke, so there’s no way you could do any worse than I (and the bar!) have already heard. Go ahead and butcher those notes, but if you wanna make up for your singing, employ some background singers to be your Pips. I promise you that by doing so, you’ll blow the crowd away.
Yuna Asks: What do you do when your duet hits and your duet partner is in the bathroom/smoking a cigarette/making out with a stranger?
Grab another stranger? Do both parts? Singing both parts of a duet is a highly underrated practice.
Yuna Asks: What’s the next evolution in karaoke bars?
Bigger digital collections. Faster acquisition of Top 40 songs. Also! Outside of bars? More Americans with home karaoke machines. See: The Philippines.
Yuna Asks: Oops, I accidentally said the N word while rocking Jay-Z’s “Can I Get A”. What do I do? (Note: I never did this but this is my worst nightmare.)
Yeesh, I’m glad you actually didn’t do this. Just don’t do this. I have friends who insert other words (“Friends!” one of them often substitutes) and others who choose to say nothing at all. Karaoke versions often bleep these out, so you’ll get a heads up. (Note: Karaoke versions also bleep out words like b*tch and sh*t, but you can say those. And you should.)
Yuna Asks: Once and for all: is it OK to sing with a drink in your hand, or is that totally disrespectful towards your audience?
Keep those vocal cords lubricated and have a drink-in-hand at all times while on the mic. Also, it’s a good way to keep those nerves in-check while remaining calm and collected.
Previously in Feedback:
Lindsey Weber is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her karaoke bar of choice is Montero’s Bar & Grill and she limits herself to singing “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes only once a month. You can follow her on Twitter: @lindseyweber. Send your karaoke questions for Lindsey to karaokeconfessional AT gmail.com.