Everybody likes to sing, and karaoke night gives you the opportunity to belt out some of your favorites, with or without friends.
The term “karaoke” comes from a combination of the Japanese words for “empty” and “orchestra” — meaning, songs without vocals. In the early 1970s, a Japanese drummer invented the karaoke machine that could play these musical tracks, and the experience of singing popular songs in bars became widespread in the 1980s. The singing pastime has become so well-known and popular that people around the world celebrate National Karaoke Week in April.
There’s even a Karaoke World Championships, held since 2003. Last year’s sing-off was held in Helsinki and featured singers from 13 countries.
What Do You Need to Do Karaoke?
Karaoke singers typically fall into two groups: Those who go out seeking karaoke, and those who find themselves at a bar where it’s offered and decide to participate. While some more structured karaoke venues promote the use of costumes and props, most are more laid-back. You don’t need anything except your voice and your courage to perform in front of others.
The host of the karaoke must have the music tracks without voices to play. This used to require a specialized machine that played CDs, but today most karaoke tracks are played via computer and no special equipment is needed. Software services exist that provide the tracks for a monthly fee. Depending on how large your venue is, you will likely need microphones and a sound system to ensure performers’ voices are as clear as possible. After all, listening to others do their best is a big part of the fun.
Choosing the Right Song
With such a wide variety of songs available as karaoke tracks, the toughest part of doing karaoke is choosing what to sing. The best songs for karaoke are well known, upbeat and don’t pose significant challenges like super high notes. Pick short songs that don’t drag on. It’s also best if there are not long gaps without words in the song, so you won’t be standing awkwardly in front of the crowd without singing.
The Weird and Wonderful World of Karaoke
These days, bars around the U.S. compete to see who can come up with the most wacky karaoke options. Some karaoke bars offer private rooms so you can keep your off-key warbling to your own group, while others add live bands, costumes and even strippers to the experience.
Karaoke in all styles is just plain fun. Whether it’s a night out to a full-fledged karaoke bar, a trip to the stage at your favorite watering hole or a fun home party with friends, anyone can have a good time singing.