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Tips for Singers:
There's More to Karaoke Than Singing!
by Jim Kerins - source Singer Magazine

Singer MagazineLet's review a typical karaoke singer's first few times onstage.

Predictably, the novice will pick a fun song like Love Shack. With spirits high (from the ample spirits in their belly), they usually do a mediocre job of singing. Because it's new and fun (karaoke is supposed to be fun for everyone, on stage and off) they subsidize their singing by acting silly, dancing around and making light of themselves when they can't quite hit a note. The effect this has on the audience and their friends is that almost everyone is either entertained by the spectacle, glad that they're doing a fun song which keeps the mood of the room up, or people are actually up dancing. Regardless, the important point is that it gets the audience involved in the show.

Now let's contrast this with an experienced karaoke singer. Typically, what I observe as someone becomes addicted to public performing is that they become overly focused on vocal technique and the execution of a song to the detriment of any kind of stage presence and stage personality. For the average club patron (not someone who’s there to listen to the karaoke singers), this makes for a rather dull night full of singers who sing way too many slow songs and who barely move a muscle while on stage. If you feel you fall into this category, here are a few suggestions to improve your performance and make you the singer that people prefer to see.

Watch the Pros
Becoming a better performer is as easy as closely watching your personal favorite professional singers. After someone catches an act in concert they don't say they heard them… they say they SAW them. Seeing a performer or band is far more powerful them listening to them on your stereo. I am insatiably curious as to why some people reach stardom and others never make it out of the clubs. Much studying and viewing of VH 1 specials on top performers reveals a recurrent theme that successful entertainers have a natural or learned ability to captivate an audience. When the representative of a record company first saw Bette Midler performing her outrageous bath house show in a small gay club, she was immediately signed to a record contract. Not because she was the best singer he ever heard, but because she totally and completely captured the audience with her amazing, over-the-top show.

On a purely vocal level, would you say that Garth Brooks has the most spectacular voice in country music? I think you could name many other country singers with greater vocal quality and range. Yet ask any country music fan who has seen Garth live and they’ll tell you his show is amazing. Did he reinvent the wheel, no! He decided that what the new country music fan wanted was a concert charged with incredible energy… a performance that demands the audience become involved and leaves them with a memorable experience of having been to something spectacular. By realizing that there is much more to being a singer than just singing, he remains the No. 1 draw in country music.

Billy Joel and Elton John are arguably two of the best singer-songwriters of the modern era. When they toured together awhile back, you could have closed your eyes and thoroughly enjoyed a three-hour concert packed with great music. However, you would have missed seeing Joel dancing around on top of his grand piano and John furiously pounding out his greatest hits on the keys.

Recently, while in Las Vegas, I was directed by the locals that the hottest ticket in town was the Danny Ganz show. Tickets were one hundred dollars a piece and I was curious as to why people where paying that much to see someone who has had no hit records and is not a top television or movie star. So why is the show the best thing in Vegas? With my wallet a "C" note lighter and two free drinks in hand, the curtain opened to a very small (by Vegas standards) four piece band and Danny dressed in black. What I heard and saw was a man who could flawlessly impersonate almost any singer as he sang portions of over 100 songs. Along with his incredible vocal talent, he mimicked and characterized the mannerisms of every singer he was impersonating. The audience went wild when he transformed into Elvis or Michael Jackson. He even managed to pull off the Julio Eglacias/Willie Nelson song "To All the Girls I've loved Before." Most transformations were done with props as simple as a hat. Danny Ganz is No. 1 in Las Vegas because he understands that there's much more to singing than just being a great singer.

How can this help you?
Before you take the stage to sing your next karaoke song, think not only about the songs you do best, but what you can do to turn your time on stage into a memorable performance. Ask yourself: "how would the original performer do this song onstage in front of an audience?" Remember, karaoke can be much more than just singing in front of people. You'll get louder applause and much more satisfaction when you begin to improve your onstage techniques, body language and ability to communicate with the crowd in other ways.

If you have a video camera at home, video tape yourself singing and sit down and critically review your performance, do you look like you are having fun? Is this something you would want to watch? What can you do to improve your stage personality? Finally, think about the popular favorite performers at a recent karaoke show and try to put your own spin on what they do best. Remember, just as you have to forget about your inhibitions to be a singer, loosen up a little more and strive to be a better performer. This will ensure that you and your audience have a lot more fun.

(reprinted with the kind permission of Singer Magazine)

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