Karaoke: OK? Not-OK? The ground rules

Rick Lax

I’m not the world’s greatest karaoke singer, and I’ve never claimed to be. But I am a passionate karaoke fan. I’ve watched a lot of karaoke performances, and I know what works and what doesn’t. So if you’re planning on heading to Dino’s this Friday or Ellis Island this Saturday, here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind, for both our sakes:

Rule 1: Spare me the mediocrity

Singing karaoke is all about having fun, right? Nope!

Singing karaoke is about either making a fool of yourself in front of strangers, or making a fool of them with your vocal talent. Ever notice how everybody who auditions in front of Simon, Randy and Kara is either really good or really bad? Well, that’s because American Idol producers leave the rest on the cutting-room floor. They understand that no one wants to watch a merely mediocre singer. Same goes at the karaoke bar. So if you’re not a William Hung- or Susan Boyle-type, then at least whip out some silly dance moves to keep my attention.

Rule 2: Don’t tease me

If you’re wearing a fedora and you ask the DJ to call up “I’ve Got the World on a String,” you better sound like Sinatra. If you’re sporting a cowboy hat and cowboy boots, you better sound like Toby Keith. And don’t tell me I’m setting the bar too high here—you’re the one who came to the karaoke bar wearing a bolo tie. You brought this upon yourself.

Read and heed: If you’re going to look the look, you’d better sing the sing.

Rule 3: One at a time

Attention ladies: No groups, please. Unless you’re singing a duet, karaoke is meant to be a solo sport. I can respect any girl who gets up on stage by herself and bombs, but I can’t respect her if she gives an identically catastrophic performance alongside three of her friends. The friends dilute the embarrassment to the point where it’s no longer entertaining.

Don’t get me wrong, you four look like you’re having a grand ol’ time up there. But I’m not. I can’t hear any of you because the mic is by none of your mouths. So somebody, please, step up to the plate and take charge.

Rule 4: Sing something I know

Do you know “My Michelle” by Guns N’ Roses? Well, guess what? I’m not interested. I’ve never heard that song before. If I wanted to hear something new, I would have gone to the Double Down. I want to hear something I know, something I can sing along to, something that brings back positive memories. We all want that.

That said, please don’t sing any of the songs I’m sick of. Don’t sing “The Grease Megamix,” don’t sing, “I Will Survive” and for Pete’s sake, don’t sing “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

Got it? Good. See ya at Dino’s.


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