Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to survive a noraebang with a bad voice...

Here's the question:
How do you sing well in a noraebang if you're not a good singer?

You've come to the right place on this one. I've got to be one of the worst, most tone-deaf singers ever, yet I used to frequent the places somewhat regularly. The following advice is actually more what I used to do to cover my horrid singing skills.

Sing very popular songs...

If you sing a popular song it usually means a lot of other people are going to get into it as well. You should also shoot for a loud one so you can blend in with the others. We used to always sway in a big group while the mic was passed from person to person. I made sure that the mic didn't stay in front of me for too long. Under the Bridge should suffice even though it's kind of a mellow song. Everyone knows the words whether they want to or not.

Sing songs that you really love...

If you really love a song and have listened to it thousands of times, then you can usually mimic the voice pretty well. I love the Grateful Dead and I can mimic Bob Weir's voice quite well, so when I'm singing in the shower, Cassidy usually comes out. However, Korean noraebangs typically don't have Grateful Dead songs, so that doesn't work for me. Hopefully, your favorites will be in there.

Look for easy hooks...

Songs with simple hooks are perfect. I'm not talking Heat Wave here, but some songs have hooks that aren't that easy for bad singers. I usually go for "Night Moves".

Rap and hip-hop...

This brings up another set of challenges for me. I can't keep up with the speed, but some people can really nail it. If you've got good rhythm and know the words, go for a rap song. Your speed alone might be enough to dilute your poor vocals. Most noraebangs have "Changes" by Tupac which seems to be the only one I know.

Be the tambourine guy

I know it's lame, but sometimes tapping or even clapping is just easier. It worked for the sax player in "Dancin' in the Dark".

Dance

Bust out the moves and minimize your time on the mic. Not only will people appreciate the show, but you can showcase some of your badass and long-retired dance steps. Maybe a little "Jam On It" by Newcleus?

Drink

Hold a bottle of beer or soju and encourage everyone to drink with you. Drunk people don't care or remember how bad you might have sang "Piano Man", but they do remember how much fun it was.

Who the f*ck cares?

Who cares if you sing well. Unless you're trying to impress a boss or a potential partner, you're there for fun with friends. Let loose and shriek Queen as loud as you can.

And now for my favorite noraebang song (which doesn't work with my voice at all)...



Fun question. Thank you questioner "Marsha G".

Anybody have any more advice or personal favorites?

10 comments:

Gomushin Girl said...

Just scream the lyrics vaguely in time with the song, and tell everyone it's the punk-rock version. I always wind up the night with the Limp Bizkit version of "Faith" and it works every time.

lissyem said...

Love love LOVE the advice - I try to go for sing-along songs myself (Build Me Up Buttercup is a guaranteed hit).
:)

Celebith said...

Johnny Cash, while an excellent entertainer, didn't have a lot of vocal range, so if you pick a few of his classics (and you'r a man), you should be fine. I do well with Ring of Fire, Folsom Prison Blues, Sunday Morning Coming Down, A Boy Named Sue (if they have it), and When The Man Comes Around. You can almost do them last three as spoken word pieces and still be fine.

MikeInSeoul said...

It's worth keeping an eye on the "new" section at the back of the noraebang book, too. They don't just add new stuff - sometimes they're adding older songs that they should've had all along.

Case in point - I almost lost it a few weeks ago when they finally added "Baby Got Back" to the noraebang song list. 17 years old, yes, but still fun as hell.

Mike said...

"Lately" by Stevie
"그랬나봐" by 김형중
"Under The Sea" the Disney Track
"Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio
"夜空ノムコウ”by SMAP
"Lose Yourself" by Eminem
"小さな恋の歌" by Mongol 800
"The Way" by Fastball
"Island in the Sun" by Weezer

These songs have essentially composed 75% of my Noraebang repetoire for the last 5 years. I think its best to get a few songs you are good at to use as a base then add more recent songs as you get in the groove.

The Expat said...

Damn, Mike. "Lately" is hard as hell.

I was of course refering to all of our glory days in 2006 when I wrote this. How often are you hitting them these days?

Mike said...

"She's Like The Wind" isn't that easy either man.

I'm not hitting them nearly as much as I'd like to for probably the same reason you aren't (read: work). We should schedule a trip down 2006's memory lane in the near future. Hopefully before I leave for Chicago in December.

The Expat said...

"She's Like the Wind" only worked for me if a group was involved.

I'm down with a 2006 hoedown for sure. I'll be in the States for all of December as well. We'll be Chi-town for a night in late December. I'll let you know. We're also trying to meet Joel and Heejung in New Orleans after Christmas.

We'll work it out.

The W is Silent said...

I sang "Holiday" by Green Day with my faculty, and with a little enthusiasm had them moshing as well as 40 year old Koreans could be expected to mosh. Further, my 59 year old principle joined in on the chorus. It's got an easy hook, and you can mumble the words if you don't know them.

Ezra said...

I can never find "Under the Bridge" in the song list.