No, Playing Guitar While Singing 'Renegade' Isn't Karaoke

Karaoke terrifies me, but my friends do it, so I want to build up some nerve to go with them. I thought I'd start with one of those karaoke video games so no one can see how much I suck. Are they any good? -- 21st Century Digital Boy

I'm going to be honest with you: I haven't played a karaoke video game in about two years. When you karaoke fo' realz as often as I do, there's just no time (and almost no point) to sing into a fake mic. But I definitely agree that singing along with pixels at home could help you get over your karaoke fright.

I teethed on various Rock Band titles, and the breadth of songs within those games absolutely influenced what I love to sing at karaoke ('90s alternative and classic rock) and what I keep in my go-to song list. Watching the words fly by with the proper notes on the musical staff really helped me consider where my voice should be heading and what kind of pacing I should adopt. Moreover, the notes jiggled glaringly when I was pitchy, which forced my perfectionist ass to concentrate on singing correctly -- especially on expert level. Nailing 100% of each song was intoxicating, the downloadable song selection was unbeatable and being given the mic instead of asking for it contributed to my confidence. I can't recommend this game series enough.

I've tried a few other karaoke games -- various incarnations of Guitar Hero, SingStar and Karaoke Revolution -- but they didn't hold my attention the way Rock Band did. All of those games had graphics issues or a limited song selection, or there was a bit of lag between the words you sang vs. the words you saw.

Rock Band is your best bet. Go find it all cheap-like on Craigslist, sing your homework and get ready to wow your friends with some Whitesnake!

As an in-demand karaoke host at multiple bars and events, 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.

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