Planning the perfect karaoke night
Like the mike
By Scott Steinberg
BEFORE YOU GRAB the microphone and sing
your heart out to the masses, there are a few things
you should know about karaoke.
• The word comes from kara (meaning “empty”)
and oke (“orchestra”) and was originally coined
• It is a $10 billion worldwide industry with professional leagues, bestselling video games and millions of fans in bars and living rooms, from Nigeria
• It was invented in the 1970s by singer Inoue
Daisuke, the manager of a small-time band that
played background music for businessmen who
wanted to sing in bars. Unable to fill one such
request, he sent a tape instead—launching a million
Frank Sinatra wannabes.
OK, now you’re ready to croon. But if you want
to go beyond “keep it in the shower” status—and
even hold an exciting karaoke party—here are some
tips offered by leading experts.
Invite your neighbors. If you run the risk of
keeping them awake all night with your caterwauling, make sure they’re at least involved.
Employ multiple mikes. People love to sing in
groups—it helps them feel less awkward if their best
friends can back them up.
Take your act online. Looking for additional
songs? Connect your computer to sites such as
www.thekaraokechannel.com, www.singsnap.com or
—Sarah Lewittin, author, Pocket Karaoke
Brian Raftery, author of
Don’t Stop Believin’: How
Karaoke Conquered the
World and Changed My
Life, gets singers humming
a happy tune with songs
for all skill levels.—SS
• The Beatles:
Love Me Do
• Cyndi Lauper: Girls
Just Want to Have Fun
• The Rolling Stones:
Start Me Up
• The Temptations:
• Johnny Cash:
I Walk the Line
Create clever icebreakers. Small competitions
where shy and outgoing singers intermingle (try
mixing them together into teams) can be fun and
can create a great atmosphere.
Pick fun themes. Everybody loves playing
dress-up. To hold an ’80s- or
Christmas-themed party, just
ask guests to bring matching
clothes and songs (“Take on
Me,” “Feliz Navidad,” etc.).
Ylitalo, Women’s Karaoke
World Champion 2010
• TLC: Creep
Anyway You Want It
• Taylor Swift:
You Belong to Me
• No Doubt: Hella Good
• Gladys Knight: Midnight
Train to Georgia
Scott Steinberg is the head of consulting firm TechSavvy (
Set the stage. Dress a designated performance
area with streamers, rock posters, and strobe or
Christmas lights. Arrange sofas and chairs to face the
stage so everyone gets their three minutes of fame.
Create sign-in sheets. To avoid fights, list
the songs you have available with sign-up
sheets attached. You’ll always know who’s
performing what next.
Designate a host. A KJ (karaoke
jockey) keeps tunes
flowing. Assign someone to manage songs
and rotate singers so
everyone has a turn.
—Raina Lee, author, Hit Me with Your Best
Shot: The Ultimate Guide to Karaoke Domination
• Notorious B.I.G.: Juicy
• Elton John: Goodbye
Yellow Brick Road
• Kanye West:
• Led Zeppelin:
• Billy Joel: We Didn’t
Start the Fire
All karaoke requires is the
right equipment, a good
song and a dream.
Choose a wide musical selection. It’s commonly
agreed that having 1,000 songs on hand makes an awesome party. Be sure to include choices for everyone.
Use the right hardware. TV speakers are fine
for video games. But for a proper karaoke party, you
need a good sound system.
Mix things up. One fun game is “trick” karaoke,
where there’s a rotating singing order. Singers should
get their songs from the next person in line—and
have to sing them no matter what. It’s hilarious
when goth rockers perform Disney jingles.
—Atte Hujanen, managing director,
Karaoke World Championships
The Costco Connection
You can find karaoke machines at Costco in the
warehouses and online at Costco.com.