Karaoke as Aphrodisiac?
It's an uncharacteristically slow night, with just a core group of regulars and some non-singing drinkers. What do you do to liven it up? -- Fire It Up
This is another "know your audience" thing that we've come to love.
First I figure out if the bar even wants to be livened up. If the joint is filled with regulars like you said, it'll be easy for me to determine. Sometimes people just want to drink and yap, singing maybe one or two songs. If things are really dead and it's obvious that I'm going to be the only one performing, I'll take requests for both karaoke and the videos I play.
If I can see that people are just a little tired but they're still looking for a Bluebird of Happiness, I'll amp things up. Just projecting my voice a bit more and joking on the mic with customers gets people smiling and in more of a singing mood. If there are only a couple of us singing, I'll declare that the next hour belongs to a musical genre -- 80s usually gets people going. And when I see some of my more daring customers, I'll cajole them into duets. After that, they've usually loosened up enough to put their own song into the rotation within five minutes. Speaking of duets...
Is it OK to sing with someone? What's a good duet song? -- That's What Friends Are For
Of course it's OK to sing with someone, as long as you're both good with the arrangement and you're not dragging up someone who doesn't want to be there.
What kind of duet are you looking to do? An honest-to-goodness duet that was made for two singers, or just a random song that you'll sing at the same time? In my book, the former beats the latter, but both have their places.
For traditional duets with two singing parts, try these: "I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher, "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum, "Telephone" by Lady Gaga and Beyonce, "The Girl Is Mine" by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, and "(I've Had) the Time of My Life" by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes (Please note that I will sing along with you and request that someone in the bar "do the lift.").
As for songs that aren't meant to be duets, sure, you can sing simultaneously, but it's more fun for you and the audience if you try to segment parts out like in a typical duet. There are plenty of songs with layers that can be performed by more than one singer or even by a main singer and backup vocals. Try "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga, "Orange Crush" by R.E.M., "I Gotta Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas (I'm so sorry for suggesting it!), or "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed (or Marky Mark, ugh).
But for the love of all things holy, will someone PLEASE sing "Under Pressure" already? I've been asking for months!
As a Friday-night karaoke host at a South County bar, Allison Babka receives her share of drunken song dedications, occasionally makes people cry and even has been glorified by a singing psychic. She's considering adding "Call Me Maybe" to her personal karaoke repertoire, and she hates herself for it. Bug her with karaoke nonsense on Twitter at @ambabka, and use #rftkaraoke.