7 Secrets to Killer Karaoke: Confessions of a Classically Trained Soprano


Now. Go be fabulous. (photocredit derekGavey on flickr)

With over 15 years of private, weekly vocal instruction under my belt you’d think that karaoke would be a breeze in the park.

Not so. I used to get sweaty palms, shaky voice, and worse…shaky mouth singing karaoke. It was a recipe for keeping the fact that I sing completely unknown to all of my normal, non-singing friends. It was terrible and a source of embarrassment.

Until recently.

(This sounds like a bad advertisement, I realize. But it’s true!)

See, the problem with being a “good singer” is that you can’t play the “bad karaoke singer” role. You have to nail it, and be kind of awesome in the meantime – in that unassuming kind of way. Otherwise…people just shift around uncomfortably in their seats. Eyes dart from side to side. And get comments like, “No, that was really good” from the non-musicians at your table. Ugh. And you’re left saying things like, “Well, if you’d just heard me in church the other day….” And they’ve already tuned you out.

So here’s are my 7 Secrets to Killer Karaoke Performances:

1. Find a friend with a Magic Mic. Magic Mics are these microphones that are really popular in Asia – the land where everyone sings karaoke all the time [cue jazz hands]. One Magic Mic comes with a chip with thousands of songs. With the good ones you can change the tempo and the key of the song and it will even rate you on your ability to sing the song like the recording. Just plug it into your TV, grab a friend and maybe a glass of wine, and start flipping through and singing your favorite tunes. Pretty soon you’ll have a great idea of which songs you actually should never choose as your show-stopping karaoke song. And, you’ll also quickly discover which songs you sound surprisingly good singing.

2. Consider your vocal range. As a soprano, it’s a total pop-culture buzz kill that like EVERY SONG is written for mid-range voices. I shine in the upper regions of the voice. I easily sound like a mangled cat in the danger zone of hitting ornamentals between A and E. I don’t belt like all those popular American Idol kiddies. So finding a song that sits comfortably in the range of your voice that twinkles best is key. Key to have the right key. Otherwise, even if you have the most amazing voice in the world, all of your friends will never know. And then they’ll all rave about the other friend they have who is an amaaaazing singer. Which we all know is really kind of annoying. When you want them to be raving about you!

3. Make it your own. To a certain extent, when people hear a remake, they want the essence of the song they know and love. But don’t try to growl like Dave Matthews, or sass it up like Beyonce if you can’t or don’t naturally sound that way. Just make it your own, keeping it soft where you feel soft, making it stronger where you feel it wanting to be stronger. Don’t whine like Jewel unless the song really calls for it, or if you’re really feeling it.

4. Know the verses and the trick spots. There is nothing worse…ok, well yes, there are worse things…but standing in front of a crowded room full of drinking people, putting on a slow song or a song that changes the tempo of the night and knowing that you’ll rock out on the chorus and then realizing you have NO CLUE how the verse goes….well…that’s awkward. Like, not knowing how to end Queen’s “Somebody to Love” or how to start Mariah Carey’s “Love Takes Time” And it’s uncomfortable when the original version has a wicked cool riff that you really can’t do – so know what you’ll do to fill that time that is uniquely yours. Avoid the awkward moments. Stick with what you know or the karaoke DJ might just take your next request out of the bucket.

5. Consider what the room needs that night. Maybe you sense that there are some lovelorn people needing a little time to wallow in their melancholy. Maybe you sense they need to rock out a little more. Maybe you think they need to stop being so self-consumed and start paying attention to YOU. Don’t let this rule your song choice, but take it into consideration. When you can nail the sweet spot between what the vibe of the room wants and a song you hit perfectly, that’s a great moment.

6. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I realize this is a post about how to dodge the discomfort of karaoke singing. The irony not lost on me. But if you’re classically trained, or prone to getting nervous at things like this, or you generally just take yourself way too seriously, use karaoke as a place to embrace your inner M.C. Get up on the stage, grab the mic, give a shoutout to the people in the bar, laugh at yourself, smile at the karaoke DJ, and shake around a little bit. Especially if you’re iffy on your song-choice, stage presence is key. Otherwise, get ready for the awkward compliments from people. Awwwkward.

7. Enjoy yourself. You might be the unlikely star of the evening, especially if you rejoin your friends feeling comfortable, calm, and more like your bright, happy self.  You never know what you stepping up and singing a song might bring to someone else’s life. Try to find that moment where you’re really one with the song. If people are drinking to numb their pain, your song might just do the trick instead. Open them up to their feelings through song instead of substance. Have fun with it. And then sit down and let someone else have their moment.


My now go-to karaoke songs are:

– Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you” (an unlikely find, thanks to Magic Mic!)

– Jewel’s “Foolish Games”

– Queen’s “Somebody to Love” (still haven’t figured out the ending, though…)

What are yours? Have any epic clips? Post them here. :)


  1. Heather, you are sooo right. Definitely have to try out a few songs on your own to figure out which ones you can and cannot do. Another good option, find a friend to sing with. I found a friend to rock out the rap part of shoop. We switch off verses, and time it just right, then he just busts out the “S and the P wanna get with me…” It’s kind-of amazing and everyone always raves (for both of us). Having a friend to share the spotlight really helps with the nerves, and they can bail you out when you start …uh…being uncomfortable.
    I cannot sing Katy Perry at all, it’s painful. But I can do lady gaga, pink, and man I get upset when I can’t bust out total eclipse of the heart. I got a standing ovation at a club once with that one. HUGE surprise. It’s all about finding a song you are good at and singing it as though you were in your own shower.

    Thanks for the tips!!

    • Omg, Jen, this is awesome! I’m glad you enjoyed it…and that you can empathize. hahaha I can see you busting out in rap….and it must be awesome. Katy Perry I have the suspicion is a true soprano, but they put all her songs in the mid range/belt region. It’s really awkward – hearing her on I think it was Divas 2011 perform “Firework” live it was really obvious – soft palette issues abound on the verse. They should just hike it up 3 keys. It sounds great on the recording, in a vacuum of perfect sound technicians, but hitting that resonant space while dancing around in platforms it becomes more obvious. This all to say that it doesn’t surprise me at all that her stuff isn’t a good choice for your soprano voice. :) Lady Gaga…yes….and total eclipse of the heart…same issue. It’s just too low. I think you’d have to be a true alto to rock that, especially since it’s so gritty…. thanks for the blog log this morning. :) heather

  2. Lana Klemeyer says:

    Hi Heather,

    I just happened upon this blog when I was searching for new karaoke song ideas. I realize you wrote this a year ago, but just had to comment.

    You’re sooooo right. I went through the same process as you. Started out picking songs that I thought I could nail, but then the verse would be too low or I would just sound like an opera singer singing Madonna and it was embarrassing. It certainly took some practice and I’ve finally worked up a playlist of old faithfuls:

    – What’s Up- 4 Non Blondes is probably my favorite
    – Whitney, of course, but I prefer I’ve Got Nothing
    – Because of you- Kelly Clarkson
    – Someone Like You- Adele
    – Angel- Sarah McLachlan
    – musical theater favs: Memory, Don’t Cry for me Argentina, and I Dreamed a Dream

    and now I will take your advice and check out some Jewel.

    Was fun to find this- thanks!


    • Lana, this is hilarious and AWESOME! Your “old faithfuls.” Guess what my boyfriend got me for my birthday this year? Yes. A Magic Mic. And yes, I did sit in my basement, alone, at 2pm on a particular Friday singing, “My Heart Will Go On” on major reverb. hahahahah

      “I’ve got nothing” is such a good one. Donnnnt maaakkee meeee clooooooose one more dooooor!

      I’m so glad you got a kick out of this.

      Another Celine great one is, “Power of Love” – so cheesy, and yet so good.

      Mariah Carey’s are sometimes a little tricky without being able to duplicate our voices on like 5 part voice over harmonies – but a good duet one is her version of “I’ll be there.” Good when you want to raise the tension in the room. (wink wink)

      Have a great night, and thanks for commenting. :)


  3. Heather!

    Thank you so much for this post! I am a classically trained singer going into a season of auditioning and one group asked me to sing an aria, a musical theater piece and a POP or COUNTRY song. I have no clue how to sing pop so I have a voice lesson coming up with a local pop diva and she asked me to bring “tracks” of any songs I’d like to sing and we would record during the lesson. CRAZY! So I was thinking “Make You Feel My Love” from Adele but it may not be different enough from my opera voice. I’d like to keep it upbeat but the only part of my voice that sounds impressive is the super high notes! Is there anything besides Mariah Carey with some jaw dropping high notes? :) Thanks again! And my go to kareoke song is “When You Say Nothing At All” by Alison Krauss or “Kissing You” from Romeo and Juliet.

    • Sarah, thank you for your comment! So, how awesome that you have a coaching session around this. I’m kind of curious what the audition is for – what kind of ensemble wants to hear you sing an aria, musical theater and pop? Is it an a cappella group? My computer seems to be throwing me a curveball, and I can’t seem to get my audio to play (weird) so I can’t listen to your voice (beautiful website, by the way!).

      Where I would start is getting the next level of clarity on what the group is looking for – do they really mean “pop” or do they just mean “not opera/musical theater”? For example, I auditioned a few years ago for America’s Got Talent (wanted to see through the veil to this pop culture phenomenon) and they stressed that it had to be a song that was popular and VERY WELL KNOWN, but some of my counterparts had great success with songs like “Amazing Grace,” and other older standards.

      Alison Krauss is always awesome. I like Adele’s version of “Make You Feel My Love” though I kind of wonder – if you’re a soprano, will this be a little boring? Or will it be a lovely compliment to a couple of other show-stopping audition pieces? I would imagine that this ensemble wants to be able to see that you translate musically for different audiences…that you’re not overly stiff or inaccessible emotionally. Of course, that’s just a guess, but I think that if you’re starting with a song you know backwards and forwards and feel really HAPPY singing, that that’s a great starting point.

      Songs that have high notes that aren’t Mariah Carey…I like “Alone” by Heart, but without the third harmony, it kind of lacks a little. You could get really obscure with “I Believe in a thing called love” by The Darkness (maybe not your BEST choice if you’re already feeling like a fish out of water- maybe better for a sulky dive bar).

      When I sing Adele’s “Someone like you” it goes over really well, depending on how it hits on your voice.

      My other go-to favorites are basically anything by Eva Cassidy – she has some great covers of classic ballads.

      Country…what about Martina McBride? She has some nice upper register moments.

      And, here’s a set list from my last set of gigs – some of these we had to take the keys up for, but may give you some great inspiration!

      Let us know how it all goes! :) And of course, what you sang.



  4. Something that helps for me is reminding myself, “No one here is going to remember me if I sing poorly.” If I sing well, they may remember me, as I remember them. But many people sing poorly, and I only remember those who just REALLY bombed it, not those that were iffy. :)

  5. Hi,

    Hi Heather

    This is like a dream website and I am so happy I found it. My birthday is in 3 weeks and I am thinking of inviting everyone to Karaoke. I am not professionally trained in music but I have a somewhat high pitch, i fairly do well with Mariah Carey’s songs except the whistle range. I did Holy night once but couldn’t speak a week after,lol. I am surprised I have never tried Karaoke though I really love music. I am looking for songs that will wow me and my friends. I thought of Minnie Riperton’s ” loving you”. I am not sure I can still do her range of the song like I used cos my range is smaller due to inactivity but I would love to practice these few weeks for it. I am also looking for what songs I can sing with like 4 friends. What do you suggest?

    • Hi there – I have never met anyone who does the whistle tones Mariah Carey does, so I’d say you can cut yourself some slack there. :) Your party sounds fun. So, I recognize the irony of saying, “don’t take yourself so seriously” with the “but practice!” theme of the post. It’s a good idea to run through your songs to know what you’re getting yourself into, so good that you’re already thinking about that. If you feel like your range is a little tighter, What about Adele? I love Adele and her powerful melodies. The key with her music is to access the emotional color in it. Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You” would be fun – if I were you, I’d say make sure you take the time to find your fun in it so it comes off as something that mirrors the beauty of who you are, not as a song that sounds like you chose it so you’d sound good on it. Heart’s “Alone” is one of my favorites, and if you have one other voice you can do the high harmonies. Which is cool because the song rocks and won’t put your crowd to sleep. Sometimes pulling one out of the 50s can be really fun – I love The Platters – “Only You” or “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” With 4 friends, you could stick with the 50s theme and go Temptations – My Girl, or try The Beatles “Help”. Here are a bunch of songs I love performing –

      Be sure to let us know how it goes and what you sing in the end! :)


  6. My goto for soprano range is Streisand. Since she seems to not strain her voice, its easy to sing full and rich, rather than thin and harsh. Evergreen is my nailing choice.

  7. Heather,

    What a great piece! I am also classically trained (mezzo-soprano) and as much as I love karaoke I feel tons of pressure from my friends (and myself) to nail it because of my background. I love Adele, Lady Gaga and the Dixie Chicks but I’m not a great belter and unfortunately the average audience doesn’t understand why I sound so “operatic” on some songs (“Can’t you just sing in a normal voice?”). Ugh! I’m singing for the first time in front of my boyfriend tonight at a local bar and I’m afraid he’s going to be disappointed. Your tips are helpful and it feels good to know I’m not the only trained singer out there that experiences these problems. We should have all of our friends come to hear us at church first and then go out for karaoke! 😉

    • Megan, totally agree. Sacred music first, karaoke second. 😉 Singing in front of the man for the first time can be nerve-wracking. See if you can think of it not as a make-it-or-break-it situation, but the first of many times you will sing for him and around him. And, one thing to keep in mind – style matters. So, if you’re really feeling like branching out from your training into a more contemporary sound is challenging, embrace it as a challenge and take it on like you’d take on learning a run – with discipline. If I were in your shoes, today I’d find some time to myself and try it out. Try it in the small girly voice, try it in a belty-er voice, try switching between the different colors of your voice. You may just surprise yourself with something in the middle that sounds better than you expected. And remember to find YOUR voice in it. Actually, right now I’m rehearsing for a surprise ending in my friend’s afternoon Bach recital – the song is “After You’ve Gone” and we’re blending both Bessie Smith’s version and Fishtank Ensemble version. I sound like neither of these women, and they’re both intimidating in their own unique ways if I start comparing myself to them, so in running through it a gazillion times, I look for places where my voice shines or my personality shines in different notes that are on neither recordings.

      The feedback of “Can’t you just sing in a normal voice?” is totally tough to hear. On one hand we want to bring them into our glorious worlds of Bach, Brahms and Arvo Part, but in this instance we have to find our figurative rainboots and wade out into the water of the music that everyone else is listening to…you are facing the frontier! haha

      Please write back and let us know how it goes tonight!!! And tell us what song you choose.



  8. I found you while exploring pop soprano singers – beautiful!

    If there’s reincarnation, I’d like to return as Ray LaMontagne or Dusty Springfield. Or PJ Harvey! But with a kind of pure middle soprano sound, that husky halo only works for backup singing. Being a shy violist, I’d rather stay as not-the-top-note. Even on violin, I use the E string little. And never like us to use the phrase “feature Carol” on stage!

    But if I’m going to find that solo place that “twinkles,” as you say, and communicates what I’m longing to express, I’ve got to knock things up a few keys. Thank you so much for all the suggestions on the site. I love reading all of the comments. Your presentation is elegant and fun.

    • Carol,

      Ray LaMontagne makes the world a better place. AMEN!

      If I were coaching you, I’d use your “shyness” and aversion to “being featured” as a starting place to getting in deeper. For example, do you have any limiting beliefs that might be in place about what is possible or allowed with your voice? I go here with my clients because finding out what limits us gives us the opportunity to decide if these rules still apply, are dated, or if we need to reinvent some beliefs that fit better with where we’re going. It opens up whole worlds….

      One client of mine thought her entire adult life that she was an alto. In fact, she just simply didn’t know how to access her upper region – once we opened her mind through technique, her whole sense of self changed. It rocked her world.

      By the way, the music you and Ron make is exquisite. I’ve just sat here being lulled into a peaceful, dreamy place. Thank you.



      p.s. BE YOU. Not Ray, not Dusty, or PJ. You.

  9. John Lavender says:

    My go-to Karaoke songs:
    “Another Bites the Dust”- by Queen
    “Time”- by Pink Floyd
    “Come Together”- by The Beatles
    “Behind Blue Eyes”- both The Who and the Limp Bizkit cover are awesome
    “Cocaine”- by Eric Clapton
    “Another Brick in the Wall”- by Pink Floyd (I actually wrote my own lyrics to this song)

    I’m not posting this to sound like I’m saying “My go-to songs are difficult and awesome”. I’m just stating this because I feel like it. Thanks for the tips, Heather.

  10. I’ve been recently having fun with Youtube karaoke, especially with Florence and the Machine tracks (which really help me understand my strengths and limits).
    I go for showtunes usually, much like my sister, who tends to break out “Hey Big Spender” after she’s completely wasted. I grew up on Broadway, so I go for them when I’m out of ideas.
    Kate Bush and Heart are both pretty fun for higher range, but I need confidence to tackle Heart.
    I find tunes that were covered by Linda Ronstadt are really good for me. Right in my range, simple, but with room for elaboration. They also tend to crop up in both Pop and Country bars with karaoke. My current showstopper is “Ooh, Baby Baby” by the Miracles. Very soulful, kinda melancholy, shows off a higher range, and it can be sung a lot of ways.

    • Heart is intense!! oooooh baby baby…I can imagine an awesome change of pace in a room with this one….and a lot of opportunity to ham it up.

      There’s always “Midnight Train to Georgia”, especially if you feel like getting people on stage with you….low enough to do the verse, high enough that even if it’s not a belted chorus is still can sound good….

      Thanks for writing, Madeleine!

  11. I’m also a classically trained soprano, and for karaoke I love Evanescence! “bring me to life” is a fabulous song for a soprano. Another I’ve done recently is Skyfall (Adele). Not super high, but she doesn’t belt in the lower range either.

    • Rebecca, I agree “Bring me to Life” is a great one…wake me up inside, wake me up inside call my name and SAVE ME FROM THE DARK. Adele is workable/great. “Dream Lover” by Mariah Carey, “I’ll be there” the Mariah Carey remake/duet of the Jackson 5 song song is a fun one to do with another…thanks for joining us here! :)

  12. You have a blog?!? What fun! Now you have a new subscriber. :-)

    My go-to are Sit-Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back and then Summertime (the Porgy and Bess version, not DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince ;-)…for four minutes I pretend to be a lounge singer at a seedy bar in NYC. I seem to *shine* when I am in a minor key…which probably says something significant about my voice but I don’t know what that is. 😉

    Glad to hear that a concrete, non-threatening post is helping you drum up buy-in to your blog. “Whatever gets them through the door,” right??

    • Summa summa summatiiime…. 😉
      Yes, pretending to be a singer at a lounge is always a fantastic way to spend 4 minutes of your life…red gown and all….

      Glad to have you join in the fun here.

  13. Hi Heather,
    I returned home tonight after my first night at a karaoke and was looking for some consolation online, so I stumbled upon your blog. I was indeed consoled by the fact that even classically trained singers have a difficult time at karaoke. I am not trained and certainly not classically trained, but have been working at singing some 2 years now (mostly self-taught through online teaching sources, a few lessons here and there, and endless practise (daily for the last 4 months). I record myself and listen to my weaknesses so that I know what needs work.

    I decided that my greatest weakness is my confidence so I decided to get in the karaoke swing. My objective was to just get up in front folks and sing. Was not too bad, but, as you said in your first post, sometimes you think you can nail a song, and it just didn’t go that way. One of my problems was that I could not hear myself and so I had no idea what it was sounding like. I wondered if I was holding the mic incorrectly, or ……? Any ideas?

    Okay, so I did give myself credit that I did get up there and sang (three songs!), but it would have been nice to feel good about the sound (the first was the best, the second, was okay, and the last one……….hmmm! well there’s the rub! I don’t know what range I would be considered. I can sing Streisand, and can also sing the lower register. I think my problem lies more in the middle range……in particular e and e sharp.
    Ideas for singing better? I contemplated using the cordless mic and standing in front of the speaker. Is that a good idea? Would I have this same problem with all karaoke bars, or is this an isolated issue? Do you hear yourself when you sing? Do you still sing well when you don’t hear yourself?

    • Enna, first off, congratulations on taking a step towards doing something that scares you. Confidence comes a RESULT of taking action and you did that.

      Secondly, way to go on taking the initiative to practice by yourself, record yourself AND go back and listen to your recordings. A lot of talented singers would be well served to take on this practice.

      That said, get a teacher. Find a teacher who you can see in person and who can guide you with a skilled hand/ear. Even if you only had an evaluation session, it is incredibly informative for someone who has a trained ear to hear the nuance to your voice and skillfully guide, encourage and tweak your technique. If you aren’t sure who the good teachers are in your area (i.e. will teach you in a way that promotes longevity, health and safety of your voice), you can ask at a local university or a local church with a strong musical program. University professors might not be able to see you, but they will most likely have a good referral for you. If you are as committed as you indicate, you will find that the investment in a good voice teacher will pay dividends and I highly recommend you consider at least a few months of an investment especially as you get started (here’s why: Singing is about feeling more than it is about listening – get good at feeling your way through a healthy, resonant sound and whether or not you can hear yourself at the karaoke bar becomes less of an issue.

      While I do occasionally provide Skype consultations and I know there are other teachers out there who do, too, I think there is a limit to how far you can take it musically over often unreliable connections.

      As far as where to stand – you were right to stand back. Don’t stand in front of the monitor because you’ll get feedback. If you’re unsure about other technical details, just ask the DJ who usually is the person who sets up the equipment, too. He will be able to tell you.

      The most important thing to remember is…NEXT! Do it again and keep growing…


      • Hi Heather,
        Many thanks for the encouraging words and suggestions. Yes, I did seek a teacher here and there, and I have learned much from their guidance and pointers. I do plan on getting a teacher once I’m settled (end of May), but meanwhile, I keep working on it every day, building on one thing or another……….this week it’s the confidence that heads the list.

        I enquired and was told that perhaps the mic was turned down for the person before me who was quite loud……’s possible. However, what you said made sense about feeling it instead of relying on hearing it. I began working on that today. I also contacted the teacher in NYC, where I will be for the next few months and hopefully this will put me in the right direction.

        And thanks, I do plan on going back to the karaoke places, if only to just keep getting up there regardless of how good or bad the experience…………….thanks again, enna
        PS: if the fellow in NYC does not work out, I may take you up on the online vocal coaching

  14. Wow, people still commenting on this 2 1/2 years later! Heather, as a bass-baritone, I know what you mean about the difficulty of finding songs that are really in your range. The world of popular music is full of high male voices. There are very few songs in my true range except for country and that’s really not my thing. At first, I just stuck with what I knew and sang the safe songs, but I got more adventurous and thankfully discovered that I could sing those high songs. The difference in the style of singing gives me a range that I couldn’t even begin to hope for in classical singing. I know I need to work on tips 3 and 6. I always have a tendency to imitate the original performer, but I’ve always done this (even singing in my car!) And I definitely take myself too seriously on stage. I feel awkward when I move around a lot and try to get into the song, more so than when I just stand there and sing. I just seem to enjoy it more when I can focus more on the music and nail those tough spots! Anyway, I loved the article. Even though I’m a little late getting here! :p

    Some of my favorite songs to sing now are:

    “Like a Stone” by Audioslave
    “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals
    “What’s Up” by Four Non Blondes
    “Crazy on You” by Heart
    “The Pretender” by Foo Fighters
    “45” by Shinedown

    And my new absolute favorite:
    “Jukebox Hero” by Foreigner

    • Tyler, thanks for chiming in! Well, this is my most comment-worthy post I’ve ever written (go figure) so I love when people still show up and share. :) Crazy on you! gee! nice!

      Yes, I totally agree with you it’s more fun when you sing well and there’s so much pleasure to gain from it…it’s that fine line….

      Love your song list….

      Keep singing,


  15. Hi there Heather,

    Have enjoyed your blog and all the comments. I have just started singing lessons this year (aged 47) after about 30 years of frustration, knowing I had a voice, but it just didn’t work. Turns out I have a 3 and a half octave range, whistle register, but had lost connection between head and chest register, and sing as though I have nodules (although don’t have any – at least not any more). May have gotten them belting, unmiked, with a cold in a school musical in 1983. Can recommend my “Speech Level Singing” teacher for helping resolve my vocal problems and give me hope. I have a music degree myself, and taught Secondary Music for many years, but can’t do karaoke. Am starting to have a few successes – “Call Me” (Blondie) and “Alone” (Heart) – which you mention probably the best so far. I can also sing better in my chest register after only a couple of months of lessons so Pink and others OK now. I’m glad you wrote this blog, because I’m evidently not alone and I’ll check out the other artists mentioned. If only the karaoke arrangements stayed in original keys and tempos hey!!!!

    • Hi Vicki, good for you for starting lessons! Yes, many people believe they cannot sing but simply aren’t aware of how to use their instrument. Having a trained ear to hear you can be very important. Your voice is part of your whole body and should be tended as such. Here’s a post that may help you on your path –

      You are not alone – really, keep working with what you’ve got and taking good care for long term health of your instrument. The body is capable of amazing things, so just keep nurturing it.

      Keep singing,


  16. I can so relate to the plight of the classical soprano voice at a karaoke bar! Thanks for the great tips! :)

  17. Carolyn says:

    I was trying to explain this very dilemma to a friend of mine the other day. As a coloratura soprano with a “Disney Voice” (as my vocal coach once described it). I felt such pressure the other night when at a Karaoke bar. I was struggling to come up with a decent song that wouldn’t kill the mood, or make me look like an idiot, when a girl got up and sang an epic version of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. She didn’t take herself seriously and sounded fab, I only wish I had got there first! Thank you for the great tips, hopefully I will conquer my fear next time. :)

  18. Lyn Bratton says:

    I’m so glad I found this! I’ve been a singer forever, karaoke lover for years and FIRST TIME karaoke DJ in about three weeks. I googled “best karaoke songs for an alto voice” and I got you. I know what I do well (Black Horse and Cherry Tree, I Love Rock & Roll, Bless the Broken Road, a few more), but that doesn’t fill enough time for a KJ, in case I have low participation!!! My husband has always wanted me to do “Pour Some Sugar On Me” but I just don’t have THAT voice. I see a few more here in the comments section that I can try – and your advice is spot on. Luckily my amp and microphones came in this week so I’ll have a few weeks to practice and see what I should add and what I should scrap. And to practice my stage presence!

  19. Found this very helpful!! Have always been a singer and loved to sing and I know I’m really good just haven’t gotten up in front of a crowd in a while. Btw, I love seeing everyone’s favorite karaoke songs are on here… Mine are Stay – Sugarland, The Judd’s – Grandpa, Reba – Consider Me Gone, Dolly Parton – Jolene & Here you come again, Pink – F***ing Perfect && Dixie Chicks – Not Ready To Make Nice(:

  20. Melissa Lopez says:

    I LOVE to sing Karaoke but ( I’ve never had any lessons so Im not even sure what kind of singer I am) so far I can do, At Last – Etta James, Linda Ronstadt and Peggy Lee – He’s a Tramp really well but the more I look for new music the more I end up doing Disney songs (Cinderella A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes) but Im being told all my music is slow and I need some upbeat stuff… Any suggestions for what Im guessing is a lyric coloraturas voice, who does what seems to be jazz, best?

    • I hear ya on the “too slow” feedback. What’s popping to mind with “He’s a Tramp” (great song by the way!) is you might try Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”…it might be low enough that you can rock it – assuming you have some chest voice strength at your disposal – and it stays low enough you won’t have to navigate constant head/chest voice imbalance issues (if there are any). What about “Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston? It’s upbeat and high. Let us know how it goes!

      • Also you could always try “Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves…the refrain sits up high enough it’s kind of refreshing. But it’s so repetitive that you’d do well to know what the words are so you can offer a little entertainment to the listeners. There’s “Love Shack” if you’ve got another gal to take the lower harmony and a guy for the fun of the contrast. And if you’re in a work a room kind of mood, Divinyl’s “I touch myself” might be one for the arsenal…although also ridiculously repetitive so you’d want to be sure that it’s not 3:43 seconds of people feeling awkward on your behalf. You’d definitely want to practice it and make sure you can keep someone interested and it’s not too much of a strain or that you can make your voice work it. Kind of like “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles – I’ve done this with a friend who can belt the lower part and I take the high harmony. Try them out at home and write back which ones (if any) are promising.

        • Ok, perhaps I’m really feeling the pain of wandering into Disney World and not knowing how to find your way out in time…but What about “Genie in a Bottle” by Christina Aguilera? 90s throwback, kind of saucy and fun…a different take on Disney 😉


  21. Heather Atkins says:

    Another Heather! Huzzah!

    Thanks for the post! I am jotting down some of your choices and will be practicing them for the next time I go out. ^_^

    Since I joined choir in high school, I have had quite a bit of pressure to sing around family and friends, and once I developed into a soprano (initially it was believed I was a contralto and I was an alto II and a tenor, and then my singing voice drastically changed over a two-week period sophomore year and I became a soprano I, lol!) it was pretty nerve-wracking because I could never think of any songs that were popular enough for my vocal range. With some vocal training under my belt (although my breath support and some of my highest notes are suffering because of a lack of training recently, shame on me), my confidence has increased, especially since I found those pieces that make me feel most comfortable and I can nail.

    My #1 go-to is pretty much anything from Evanescence. Amy Lee is the one singer that I feel 110% confident performing, and none of her songs strain my voice which is important. I also have a weak spot for I Will Survive; I cannot resist the disco. I have avoided the classical and musical theatre pieces thus far, only because I am not sure how the bars I have been to would handle anything from, say, Phantom of the Opera. The same goes for a couple of Disney songs, as much as I love them (Chim Chim Cher-ee and Sally’s Song would be a dream <3). I imagine they wouldn't be terribly appreciated…

    Anyway, now that I am going out a bit more, I am going to start practicing additional pieces so that I have a wider range of song choice, and I am pretty excited about it. This blog was super helpful, so thanks again! <3

  22. So I have been singing since I was five but in church! I am even on the praise team at my church but seem to suck at choosing karaoke songs. I love to sing. Was trained before but haven’t conituned it since my teacher moved away, but I just got off a cruise that had a karaoke superstar competeion and I qualified for the completion but at th end didn’t even place! Broke my little karaoke lovin heart and bruised my confidence. My first problem was I went first and the room was only half full so at the end the people voting hadn’t even heard me sing “my guy” but I am an alto singer and I know that wasn’t a good song to ” showcase” my singing. I want to have a good go to list with a mix of upbeat and slow that I can sing with confidence!

    Haha thanks in advance and thanks for this post :)

  23. Untrainedlyricalsoprano says:

    I am so happy I found your site. My friends are avid karaoke attendees and I have avoided singing when with them because I can’t find any songs that suit my voice. I don’t let anyone hear me sing..I can hit the same notes at Amy Lee, jewel, Celine Dion, whitney Houston, Mariah Carey etc but my voice isn’t trained and some of my friends are professional singers. Thank you for the song suggestions I was leaning towards some of these. Just have to get over the shyness now.

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