9 Reasons You’re Bad at Karaoke Singing (and How to Fix It)

It’s true that some people are naturally better at singing and karaoke than others, but why exactly is that? Is singing just a talent than can’t be learnt? Well, to some extent yes, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t improve if you’ve not been blessed with great vocals. Here are 9 reasons why you might be bad at singing karaoke. 

  • You’ve chosen the wrong song
  • The backing track is in the wrong key 
  • You’re singing using your throat
  • Your timing is out 
  • You’re the wrong distance from the microphone 
  • You’ve not been warming up properly 
  • You’ve not practiced enough 
  • You’re lacking confidence 
  • You’re using Poor quality equipment 
Okay, so those are the main reasons why you might not sound great at karaoke. We’ll take you through each of these in a bit more detail and tell you how you can fix them for your next performance. So let’s get started! 

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1. You've Chosen the Wrong Song

One of the main reasons you might sound bad at karaoke, is because you’ve picked the wrong song. You might be picking your favourite songs, but if they’re outside your vocal capability, then you won’t be doing them justice. It could be the wrong song for a few reasons. For example, it could be in the wrong key for your natural vocal range, or be too high or low. Or even too fast or slow. 

How to Fix It

Go back to basics when choosing the best karaoke song for you. Get together a shortlist of 10-20 of your favourite songs and then think about the vocal ranges of each. Think about whether you are more comfortable singing high or low notes and then consider which songs on the list would be most suitable. Then narrow down your list by thinking more in depth about each song and listening to see if there are any particularly difficult notes or sections that you aren’t confident that you can handle. Now you should have a list of more suitable songs that you can perform much more easily.
Take a look at our list of 250+ best karaoke songs to help you choose. There’s even a category on easy songs to give you some good ideas! 

2. You're In the Wrong Key

The second reason why you’re karaoke performance doesn’t sound great, is because you’re singing in the wrong key. If you’ve been practicing at home with an instrumental and think you sound pretty decent, but at the venue your performance just doesn’t sound quite right, then the chances are that the instrumental track is in a different key. 

How to Fix It 

The best thing you can do to avoid this surprise when you go up to sing, is to speak to the karaoke DJ before performing. Ask them if the instrumental song is in the same key as the original. And if not, consider changing songs. It’s one of the main things that can make a pretty good singer sound terrible without knowing. So it’s best to be clear about this before performing on stage. If you’re singing at home using instrumental tracks, try and found out if they’re in the original key. A lot of free instrumental tracks are pretty low quality so this is more common than you might think. 

3. You're Singing with your Throat

One of the most common reason why someone sounds bad when they’re singing karaoke, is because they’re singing using their throat. If you start to feel like your throat is strained at any point in your performance, then the chances are that you’re primarily using your throat to sing. Instead, you should be singing from lower down, all the way from your diaphragm to really make the most of your vocals. 

How to Fix It 

The best way to fix this, is by practicing deep breathing. Take around 10-15 minutes a day to really focus on your breathing, using a technique called belly breathing. This involves breathing using your mouth and nose to inhale as much as possible to fill your belly up. You then need to exhale slowly and deeply. 
Also, when you’re actually singing, be conscious of singing from your throat and try and breath deeply and produce the sound from lower down. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s one of the best ways to be a better karaoke singer!

4. Your Timing is Out

Some people struggle a lot more with the timing of the song than others. And some songs are a lot easier to time than others. This is true for both slow and fast songs. Sometimes the timing feels more natural for some singers than others. But a poorly timed vocal performance just screams that you’re an amateur and is one of the biggest signs of a poor karaoke performance. 

How to Fix It 

The best way to fix this, is by practicing using the original song. You shouldn’t do this all the time though, because it can make you sound better than you actually do if you can hear the original singer. But if the timing is something that’s holding you back, then singing to the original song will help. Some singers also use a metronome to help with their timing, but this is a more advanced solution. 

5. You're the Wrong Distance from the Mic

Another cause of a bad karaoke singing performance could be your distance from the microphone. You might have seen some singers like Liam Gallagher with their mouths super close the microphone and wanted to copy them. But for most people, this isn’t the best approach and can lead to muffled vocals. On the other hand, being too far from the microphone can cause you to try and sing too loudly and relying on your throat too much. This can also reduce the quality of your vocals.

How to Fix It 

You should aim to have your mouth around 15cm or 6inches from the microphone. This will help prevent muffling but it’s also not too far away that you’ll feel the need to shout. 
Remember to keep this distance throughout your performance too. If this is a particular problem of yours, then try and be conscious of it until you get into the habit properly. 

6. You've Not Warmed Up

Vocal warm ups aren’t just for professional singers. If you want to make the most of your voice, then give yourself the best chance by doing a quick warm up. It’ll definitely help you hit more difficult notes and reduce the chance of you straining your voice during your performance.

How to Fix It 

A proper vocal warm up doesn’t have to be anything silly or embarrassing. Here are a few warm up ideas that’ll help you sound better at karaoke. 
  • Practice deep breathing for 5 minutes. 
  • Try humming a song or tune through a straw.
  • Take a deep breath and then exhale by letting the air move through your lips allowing them to vibrate. This helps to relax your mouth. 
  • Do some tongue twisters to stop you getting caught up on your words.
  • Massage your jaw with your hands to relax your jaw and mouth. 

7. You've Not Practiced Enough

We all know the saying, practice makes perfect. Well, the same is true for singing karaoke. Yes, some people are more naturally gifted than others at singing, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve. 

How to Fix It

Practice more! The best way to get better at singing, is to do it more often. But you should always do it with the correct technique. Always choose quality over quantity, otherwise you’ll cement bad technique. 
Aim to practice using an instrumental rather than the original song. Listening to the vocals of the original song whilst you’re also singing will make you sound better than you actually do and won’t help you to improve. Try and practice for around 20 minutes a day, but make sure you rest your voice if you’ve got a performance coming up. 

8. You're Lacking Confidence

Confidence is key to being a good singer and a lack of self-belief is one of the biggest causes of a bad karaoke performance. There are some people that have all the confidence in the world when they’re performing and can sing, dance and smile all at the same time. This helps the audience enjoy the performance more and can make up for less than stellar vocals. But nerves can lead to quiet and shaky vocals and cause the audience to feel a bit uncomfortable. 

How to Fix It 

The best thing you can do to improve your confidence, is to sing in front of others as much as possible. This can be at home in front of your friends and family in an informal setting where you can just sing whilst cooking or cleaning. 
This will help you to be more confident when singing in front of people at a bar, club or other venue. It’s also good to get in as much practice at karaoke clubs as well to boost your confidence and get good feedback on your performance.
It may sound strange, but practicing singing in front of the mirror is also really beneficial and will help you to reduce  your nerves whilst singing. 

9. You're Using Poor Quality Equipment

So a good workman never blames his tools. But sometimes he probably can. In some cases, what sounds like bad singing, can actually be due to poor quality equipment, by this we mean usually the microphone or speakers. It’s more probable that this can make a bad singing performance sound worse than it actually is, but it’s definitely a contributing factor than can be fixed.

How to Fix It

If you’re performing singing at a venue like a club or bar, then unfortunately there’s not much you can do about poor quality sound equipment holding you back. But if you’re hosting a karaoke party at home, then purchase high quality equipment will help you sound a lot better. 
And don’t worry, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. We’ve got a list of the 20 best karaoke machines for people on a budget, for home use, for kids and for professionals. So you can find the best sounding karaoke equipment in your price range to make you sound a better karaoke singer! 

So there you go! Thank you for reading this article outlining some of the most common reasons why you sound bad at karaoke and how to become a better singer! 
If you want some more advice, head over to our post on the 5 best ways to improve your karaoke singing today

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