Nothing beats a good karaoke night. The music is live, the drinks keep coming, and the mood is always fun. It’s the kind of fun that’s really gone untapped by the Millennial masses. Why are we ignoring such a fun opportunity?

It’s probably because too many people have already ruined our idea of a good karaoke night. We’ve heard one too many drunken versions of “Wannabe” and “Don’t Stop Believin’” to get past it and give karaoke another shot. But it’s not karaoke’s fault! It’s our fault for not following appropriate karaoke procedure. (Hey, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.)

Karoke, Entertainment

1. Choose an Awesome Song

This should really go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. If the crowd doesn’t like your song, you’re not going to have a successful performance. (This probably means that Nickleback is off limits.)

Take the time to survey the crowd before you even sign up to sing. I once had the unfortunate experience of listening to someone try to get through “Foolish Games” by Jewel. The girl didn’t have an awful voice—but the song was such a downer for the bar.

Don’t choose a song that’s too popular, though. (“Don’t Stop Believin’” is kind of clichéd, don’t you think? Everybody does it… Heck, they did it on Family Guy!) The key is to pick a song everyone likes, but something they haven’t heard in a while. Pick a song that makes people think, “OMG I haven’t heart this in forever! I love this song!”

But what about rap? Rap is an interesting karaoke choice. There are some rap songs that really get a crowd going (I’m looking at you, “Humpty Dance”). I’d only advise rapping if you know the song inside and out and you have successfully evaluated the patrons to ensure it’ll go over well.

2. Practice Is Your Friend

If you’re thinking of doing a karaoke night, use your driving or shower time to practice a song. Nothing is worse than a karaoke singer who’s two or three bars behind the music.

A good rule of thumb: Don’t pick a song unless you’re pretty sure you know it from start to finish.

3. Don’t Over-Imbibe

Am I telling college students and 20-somethings not to drink too much? What about that common argument, “If I’m not drunk, I won’t have the courage to get up there”?

Well, get over it. A drunken singer is a sloppy singer. Sure, go ahead and have a drink or two to loosen up before you do some karaoke — but don’t go up there a drunken mess. KEY POINT: If you can’t stand up behind the microphone, don’t even bother. (I’ve seen this happen.)

4. Just Do It!

Don’t be shy when you get up there. If you have the balls to get up and sing karaoke, you have the balls to see it all the way through. Get up there and make it your own.

The best way to get over karaoke jitters is to have a group of supportive friends with you. You also need to understand that people aren’t out to get you— they wouldn’t be at a karaoke night if they didn’t want to hear some karaoke.

With enough friends, a good DJ, and a great bar, you can show everyone how karaoke is done. (And please, if you do, share some videos!)

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