‘Karaoke’ is a Japanese word that roughly translated means ‘Empty Track.’ What’s empty about it? There’s no singer. It’s just you and your friends’ job to fill in the gaps.
That’s the best thing about karaoke. It’s a chance for shower-divas to show off their skills, for shy introverts to finally let loose. It’s a chance to serenade your crush, a chance to scream, shout, let it all out without fear of being judged. Most everybody has that one embarrassing karaoke story, when they’ve missed the key, beat, lyrics, and everything else that can be missed, but still had the time of their lives.
Paired with the appropriate amount of drinks, Karaoke is the perfect way to spice up your party and make it memorable and instagrammable. If you do everything right, your party can appear dozens of stories and feeds. You’ll be the talk of the town!
Here are some tips for organizing a killer karaoke party for you and your friends.
Keep a General Theme
Narrowing down the tune selection can make people more likely to think of a song they want to perform. When there’s an infinity of choices, it becomes very hard to make one.
You can limit your guests to songs from the 70s or the 80s, allow only duets, or just have an entire night singing ABBA songs. You can have two of those nights back to back and still have great songs nobody’s butchered yet.
Of course, don’t be too strict. If a particularly pretty girl, or a particularly drunk guy, wants to sing something out of theme, allow it. After all, karaoke is all about having fun.
Always Have Songs Cued Up
Karaoke and noise go hand in hand. A minute of silence can jolt everybody out of their musical spirit and kill the vibe.
Sometimes, nobody can think of anything they’d want to sing. That’s when the classics like ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ come in handy to keep the mood going and inspire song ideas for your guests.
Always keep at least 6-7 cued up. You can easily interject the generic cue songs with actual requests.
Invite the Right People
You may think that a karaoke party benefits from a room full of classically trained vocalists. The opposite is true, however.
One of those is great, as long as they don’t hog the mic and discourage others from singing. The rest should be fun loving people who just like being together and shouting. And there’s nothing more beautiful and satisfying than a shy and quiet person becoming the star of a party with an emotional performance of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart.’
You’ll want to avoid cynical people who criticize and mock the poorer singers. Those are the real dangerous ones that can jeopardize everybody’s good time.
Don’t Run Out of Alcohol
Karaoke may be the only thing that undoubtedly gets better the more drinks you have. Sobriety and screaming your lungs out don’t go hand in hand, and a bit of Irish Courage makes sure you at least try to go for those high notes you know you can’t hold.
You can set up a rule – having a drink before every performance is mandatory. It’s a way to make the dull intros to songs pass by more quickly.
Of course, don’t overdo it. Always have snacks around, so people have something to soak up the alcohol with. If a guest is acting particularly rowdy, a shot of water instead of the tequila they expected can be a subtle way of telling them they need to lay off for an hour or so.
Be in Charge
MC stands for Master of Ceremonies. You need a person manning the mic in between performances, keeping the banter alive, and actually cuing up requests. Karaoke parties that are part of the Minneapolis nightlife are said to have the best MCs.
You can perform this role for your friends, just don’t be too bossy. Karaoke is meant to be fun. Rules are meant to be broken. Breaking the rules is fun. Therefore, if things start drifting away from the idea you had at the start, but people are still having fun and laughing – don’t be a stickler.
It’s a good idea for you to sing the first song, to open things up. This especially works if you’re not too great of a singer, so people can let loose of their inhibitions and just have fun.
Add Some Mood Lighting
Some basic, dimmed, warm lighting can do wonders in creating a welcoming atmosphere for people to really let loose.
Nobody likes to party in a bright room. People feel safer with the lights dimmed and are more likely to let the drinks flow and give the performances of their lives on ‘Dancing Queen.’
Do the Technical Prep Beforehand
There’s nothing that puts quite the damper on a party like waiting around for the equipment to be set up. If you know you’re going to do Karaoke at your party, spend the afternoon making sure the microphones are hooked up properly, that your song database is working accessible, that the cables aren’t buzzing out.
The lyrics on the screen should be big and legible. It’s easy enough to mangle words sober, let alone when there are five or six shots in you.
You don’t need a karaoke machine. With a bit of resourcefulness, a laptop, and a microphone, you can set up the night of your life. Although, karaoke machines make everything easier and faster.
Set Up at Least Two Mics
The MC needs a separate mic from the performer. If anyone needs help with the second verse or could use some backing harmonies, the MC jumps in. Also, having a mic that’s always in the MCs hand smooths the transition between performances.
More importantly – two mics mean that duets are possible.
Many happy couples have met at a Karaoke party, belting out a drunk version of‘ Something stupid’ by Frank and Nancy Sinatry.
Be Encouraging and Welcoming
Karaoke isn’t about who’s going to be the next winner of The Voice. Not everybody’s gonna give a stellar performance from an intonation point of view. And that’s completely fine.
The quality of a Karaoke performance is measured by the passion, drive, and love for music, not perfect pentatonic runs.
In fact, having a professional singer can sometimes turn off the vibe of a party. It discourages the mere mortals from singing from their hearts.
So, hype up everybody the same way, ask for the same amount of applause for the musically challenged as well the Mariah Carey, vocal chop imitators.
Warn the Neighbors
Karaoke parties get rowdy and loud if they’re any good at all. If you have neighbors that are not sound sleepers, you may want to give them a heads up. People are much less likely to call the cops and rain on your parade if they’ve been warned.
We humans have probably been singing since before we could talk. Nothing instills a sense of community and togetherness like a singing session. That’s why almost every house of worship in the world entertains at least some kind of communal singing.
Let your house become a place where people make connections and unforgettable memories. And remember – horrible performances are more memorable than perfect ones.