Once a week, Diamond Jim’s Saloon held a karaoke night. The first time I was there for this night, I was too shy to get up and sing for myself, but I had a great time listening to everyone else. I did want to sing, but I was is not confident in my voice. For that reason, I spent every day before the next karaoke night improving my singing voice.
There are a lot of ways to do this today, but at the time there weren’t that many options. Luckily I had a friend who could sing and he coached me. Nowadays you have a ton of websites that can teach you to sing better. My favorite is Musicaroo and they have a wonderful article on learning how to sing.
With resources like that or like this one, it is much easier to get the basic singing techniques down. You can turn yourself into a decent singer pretty easily, without any outside help. Then if you want to get much better you hire an actual vocal coach to get you to the next level. But for me, I just wanted to not be terrible and I accomplished that in just a couple of days with my friend.
One of the biggest keys I learned for sounding good at karaoke is to only choose songs that you are able to sing. For me that was not a lot of songs at the time and even today, it is not that many. Again, there are a lot of resources online and again, Musicaroo is a great one. They have a wonderful list of all the best songs to sing at karaoke. Now most of those songs are right up my alley, but even if you’re not as old as I am, or much older, you’ll still find something on that list that will appeal to you.
If you love karaoke is much as I do, but you’ve always been too shy to actually get involved, I recommend reading up on the basic singing techniques, to get yourself to a decent level. Just doing that will get you above 80% of the population in terms of your singing ability.
Next, find some easy songs to sing that you enjoy and practice them at home on your own. Practice them until you get good. I would videotape myself to really work on some of the nuances. Just doing this will make you much better than most people. And it doesn’t take too long. You only have to do it once, too, to see the improvement for the rest of your life.
In this way, you can get yourself a repertoire of songs. I have six or seven at this point. Two are duets that I can sing with my friends; the rest are songs that I sing on my own, but with this arsenal, I can choose a number of different styles of music, depending on the bar and the mood, and always fit in. Obviously, at Diamond Jim’s Saloon, we sang a lot of the typical music you would expect from a gay bar. Love Shack from the B-52s was hugely popular. And yes, it is on the Musicaroo list I mentioned above.
So here’s my challenge to you. Learn to sing first. Then find some good songs and practice them until you’ve got them down. Then go to a couple of standard karaoke nights and try out your newfound skills. I’m sure you’ll bring the house down. Finally, enter some karaoke singing competitions. These are really fun and, who knows, you might even win some money. Good luck!