You’re thinking of something to do this weekend. Your friend suggests karaoke as a possible option. That’s cool with you; you’ve always wanted to go and you’ve probably wanted to even try it. There’s just one problem: you’re scared to death. I’ve always loved the idea of karaoke — people singing live music, hanging out with your friends, maybe get a few laughs in. I never went because I was petrified to sing live. I hated public speaking, so the idea of singing was always a fun thought, but never a realistic one.
I was in the city with friends last year when we stumbled in to karaoke bar and decided to check it out. Most of us decided to sing and it was one of the best nights of my life. (For those wondering, I went with “Forgot About Dre” by Dr. Dre and Eminem.) Doing karaoke is one of my favorite things to do now (check the author bio), so I offer you some helpful pointers that can hopefully kill your stage fright and make for an enjoyable experience.
1. Go with a group: If you go with a few people you know, it will probably ease your nerves to see them perform. Plus, when you’re on stage, you’ll have a few people to look at if the crowd scares you.
2. Pick a song you know by heart: Your experience will go 1,000 times smoother if you go with a song you know all of the words to. If you don’t know all of the words, at least know almost all of them. The lyrics will be on a screen, but if you can focus on having a good time rather than the words, you’ll be fine.
3. Practice, practice, practice: Pick a song you’ve sang in the car or your shower before so you know which songs you can actually sing decently. I absolutely love Michael Jackson, but I know I can’t hit any of his notes, so I avoid him at karaoke.
4. Don’t sing on an empty stomach: Trust me.
5. Don’t perform while drunk: Especially if this is your first time, don’t be drunk. Get a light buzz to kill some of the nerves, but be in control. Nobody likes watching a drunken fool act like an idiot on stage, let alone being the drunken fool.
6. Breathe: The first couple of times I did karaoke, I was surprised at how easily I lost my breath. I’ve sang the song a bunch of times in my car with no problem before, but I never accounted for the fact that I would be singing louder and projecting or my heart rate would be accelerated.
7. The bigger the crowd, the better: This is kind of a “to teach is own” kind of thing, but I prefer much larger crowds than smaller ones. I would also never do karaoke in one of those private rooms; it just seems weird. With smaller crowds, I feel like everyone is watching; with bigger crowds, I can just look out at nothing. Also, bigger crowds get more into it.
8. Stage presence: You will be amazed at how much good stage presence can make up for a lack of vocal talent or knowledge of the lyrics. I’ve been told I have a good voice and I’ve been told that I can’t hold a note; I think I’m average. However, I like getting the crowd involved and pumped up. If they see you’re having a good time, they’ll want to embrace your performance, not trash it.
9. Lose yourself in the moment: Not to quote Eminem, but seriously just lose yourself on stage; become a different person for those three or four minutes. This is kind of a piggyback on No. 8, but if you perform and just forget about everything in life, it’s an adrenaline rush.
10. Remember that anyone who boos at a karaoke bar is a dick: You are not on American Idol, you are a normal person out for a good time like everybody else. Most karaoke folk are good people and won’t be harsh if you can’t sing too well. If you don’t know the words, they’ll likely give you a hard time, but as I warned you in No. 2, you brought that upon yourself.
For my New York readers, I strongly suggest Iggy’s in New York City. Who knows, maybe you’ll bump into me one day.