1. Mic Stealers (They're Gonna Let U Finish. . .Maybe)
They are always among us in karaoke bars from Topeka to Tallahassee. They have sticky fingers, no shame and a wicked narcissistic streak; they are “Mic stealers.” Kanye West is the new poster child for this karaoke miscreant who cannot resist the urge to bum rush the stage and share someone else’s moment. We see them all the time, although we may not always notice what is going on.
Think about it, your having a great time at karaoke, someone’s up singing a cool song and suddenly it sounds like there is backup; either that or the singer is a ventriloquist. You look up and realize that the singer has enlisted the help of another singer. How sweet. Or is it? Mostly it isn’t, because nine times out of ten the backup is nothing more than a savvy mic stealer.
They are smooth operators too. First they seem super supportive to the hapless singer. They stop eating and turn their seats toward you when you start your song, then they start to clap to the music, they smile as you barrel through the lyrics, and the next thing you know, they have the second mic and YOU’RE the one singing back up while they work audience, the KJ, the bar staff and the song. You’ve just been karaoke punked. Good luck on the next rotation.
2. That’s My Song!
One of the most common sources of tension at karaoke night is the singer who steals the thunder of a karaoke nite regular by singing their signature song; also known as a banquet song. Sometimes this happens when an unsuspecting newbie comes to sing, in which case this infraction is barely noticed. However, in cases where the perpetrator knows the lay of the land, this can be taken by some to mean “I can sing this better than you.” Cooler heads will understand though that sometimes people just want to sing the songs they like whether or not they can sing it better than someone else in the building. So while it is common courtesy to stray away from someone else’s tune that they belt out every weekend with fervor, it’s still a free country and it wouldn’t hurt to change things up once in awhile. Moderation is always the key.
3. That’s “Our” Song
In certain western states it is considered taboo for a lady to ask a taken man if she can wear his cowboy hat. That happened to me once while at a karaoke night in Colorado. I had just wanted a prop for my rendition of Charlie Daniels’ “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” I soon learned that this was equal to propositioning a man right in front of his main squeeze; Oops, I quickly changed my song choice to “Gimme Three Steps.”
It turns out that certain duets performed regularly at karaoke night by the same couple are equally sacred. So, if that redhead who always sits at the end of the bar is always Olivia Newton John to your John Travolta, you might want to think twice about seeking out a replacement, even more so if you and the redhead are an item.
4. No One Should Ever Sing that Song
There are just some songs that people consider so sacrosanct that they should never be sung by anyone other than the original artist, the only exception being that if the covering singer can do it ten times better. There is no definitive list on who these “uncoverable” artists are, but a few of the same ones tend to come up in conversation.
Take American Idol for instance. When contestants choose songs by Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston, they are often viewed with apprehension by the judges. Then, there are some songs that generally lead to vocal terrorism on karaoke nite, like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” or Aerosmith’s “Dream On”. Most singers can’t even begin to duplicate Freddy Mercury’s or Steven Tyler’s notes but they often die (metaphorically speaking) trying. Best thing to do if you must indulge, is to find a creative, suitable way to vocalize those unattainable portions of the song that are well within your abilities, that’s what professional singers do; unless your Danny Gokey of course.
5. Did I Ask for Backup Singers / Dancers?
There is a fine line between the cathartic need for a karaoke singer to enjoy the brief moments on stage under the spotlight and the camaraderie that karaoke inspires, which often results in people getting up on their feet to dance to your song. Sometimes though, people get too comfortable at karaoke and recruit themselves as backup dancers to a song, even though they don’t know and weren’t invited up by the singer. Essentially the karaoke world breaks down into two types of singers; those who welcome all backup dancers and those who would rather drink paint than have anyone over the age of 3 steal their thunder up there on the grand karaoke stage. Sorry folks its just business.Future backup dancers everywhere should know however, that there is one song where unsolicited backup dancing is generally acceptable; “Baby Got Back.”