My favorite karaoke bar in my town closed down last year. Although I love karaoke, I’m not a diehard karaoke junkie but a few times a year I get this itch that can only be scratched by a night spent singing singing off-key in front of dozens of strangers. I found myself deeply missing my favorite spot to do just that. The place I went to was a Chinese restaurant with a big back room that became a standing room only karaoke bar every Thursday night. I missed the smells of pork lo mein and crab rangoon sneaking in from the kitchen. I missed the middle-aged woman in the matronly dress who would come there alone and sing the most quietly lovely version of Nina Simone’s ‘My Baby Just Cares for Me’ every week. BUT I didn’t miss the troves of drunk girls screeching songs like ‘You Oughta Know’ until my ears were ringing. I also didn’t miss having to wait three hours to sing one song.
A few weeks ago my friend who shares my love for karaoke was visiting and we’d planned to check out a new spot to sing. As the day wore on we were tired and she suggested created our own karaoke bar in my backyard. We spent the next five hours (much to my neighbors dismay) barreling through every song we’d ever wanted to sing but didn’t sing when you’re at a bar you’re lucky if you get to belt out a few songs. It was awesome not to have to wait to sing, pay for drinks or be embarrassed when we sang off key or had bad timing.
If you get the karaoke itch like I do or are looking for a fun activity for your next backyard BBQ or birthday party, you should totally throw your own karaoke party. It’s way cheaper, chances are you already have most of what you need and you can do it whenever you want. Best of all you won’t have to wait very long to sing or sit through tearful renditions of ‘Unchained Melody’ unless of course that’s the song you pick.
-iPad (like this)
-Stereo with aux input (I LOVE this one – it’s super retro)
-Stereo cable that connects an iPad to a stereo (like this)
-Microphone (this one is inexpensive)
-Amplifier (like this)
-Some props like wigs, hats, glasses and scarves
-Random musical instruments like tambourines, maracas, harmonicas or toy instruments (this pack is inexpensive and has a bunch of different kid’s instruments)
What to Do:
1. Connect your iPad to the stereo using the cable. Then set it up on a high table of some stacked boxes so that it’s facing where the singer will be.
2. Plug the microphone into the amplifier.
3. Go on YouTube and type in the name of any song and artist and then karaoke. Sometimes it helps if you also type in ‘lyrics no lead vocals’.
4. Test the sound by adjusting the volume of the stereo and the amplifier.
-If your guests are feeling shy, break the ice by doing the first song.
-Mix it up by putting songs into a hat and having singers randomly pick a song. You can also put people’s names in a hat to decide who’s next.
-If someone’s singing is less than stellar, encourage them by grabbing a tambourine and helping them along or joining in to sing back-up vocals.
-Instead of spending money on props, get creative with what you already have and raid your closet or your Halloween costumes from past years.
-If you don’t have an amplifier, you can get an adapter for your microphone so you can plug it into the auxiliary input on a stereo. You can also reach out to friends on social media or an inexpensive one for around $50.
-If your guests drink cocktails, make sure you have plenty of drinks on hand to loosen them up.
-Keep the snacks simple and bite-sized but hearty.
-Make sure you have a strong internet connection. Nothing bums out the mood more than having a song stop in the middle while your iPad is buffering.
-If you don’t have any musical instruments, hit up your local party supply store for cheap party favor kazoos and maracas or delve into your kids or a friends kids toys to find toy instruments.
-Have another stereo ready to go for downtime between singers.
-Let your neighbors know you’ll be having a karaoke party and invite them if you want to.
-If kids will be attending, get a few toy echo microphones so they feel like they’re in on the fun!
-Create your own stage by hanging some fabric on the wall behind the singer.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?