Besides being pretty darn good myself (at rapping, not at singing), I've hosted Karaoke countless times in Austin. But more importantly, I hosted Tazeroke for quite a while. Nothing makes it more clear who is good and who is bad than Tazeroke. The whole audience votes and the losers get tazed.
Why get good at Karaoke? It's fun. For a few minutes you get to experience a slice of what it's like to be a rock star. It's a good place to go on a date. Maybe most important: whether you try to or not, you're eventually going to find yourself in a situation where people are singing karaoke. You may as well be able to knock them out.
So, coming from someone who has been involved in just about every angle of karaoke, here's how you get good:
- Pick Songs People Like. Don't pick depressing songs, overly serious songs, or death metal songs. Nothing harder than Metallica. Nine Inch Nails usually flops.
- Funny Songs Go Over Well. Some people try to pick really serious and technically challenging songs. No one cares. You don't have to pick a funny song, but it will give you a leg up. Good choices are Sir Mixalot, any boy band songs, or Disney songs.
- Focus on One Song at a Time. Pick one song and memorize all of the lyrics at home. Practice it over and over again. Knowing all of the lyrics means that you can focus on your performance instead of staring at the screen. Once you have that one down, work on another one.
- Stage Presence Matters. Vocal Ability Doesn't. One of the most common things to see at Tazeroke is someone who riles up the crowd but is a poor singer beat someone who has an amazing voice but just stands there. I've seen people with bad voices, and I do mean bad, have the whole crowd cheering for them because they're breaking out dance moves and doing power slides on their knees.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Obvious, right? Make friends with the DJ and you'll probably get to sing a little more than everyone else. Tip him and you definitely will.
If you've never done Karaoke, but are interested in it, the first step is to just get the nerve to sing one song. It's much more fun and much less scary than you think. I remember being absolutely terrified to sing my first song, "How We Do" by The Game and 50 Cent. It was so fun, though, that right after I got off the stage I signed up for another song.
(by the way, if you are in Austin, my friend Doug hosts at Spill on Sunday. I should be there most of the time...)