Much of the joy in karaoke has to do with standing up in front of strangers and baring your soul, vocally speaking. There’s nowhere to hide, when it’s just you, the backing track, and some words on a screen.
But if you’re seeking a little less of that joy, from a public embarrassment perspective — and because today’s technology lets us do stuff in the home that used to require expensive, public installations (see: movie theaters) — it’s now possible to do karaoke within the home without making a big deal of it.
For years, you’ve been able to buy a dedicated consumer karaoke machine. But what are you, some sort of karaoke freak? Shouldn’t you be practicing your scales or putting your name on a list of paper somewhere instead of hosting an intimate gathering at your home?
For the casual karaoke-positive person, a dedicated machine is overkill, not to mention needlessly expensive. The following apps and hardware put karaoke in your home, embarrassment and all, without forcing you to buy a dedicated machine — and they all deliver a real karaoke experience (i.e. with words on a screen and a backing track).
Plenty of karaoke apps exist; for this list, we focused those that stand out from the pack for whatever reason:
1. The Singing Machine Home
Billed as a Bluetooth speaker for playing music from all of your devices wirelessly, The Singing Machine Home does justice to its name with an extra feature that goes beyond what you’ll find with Jambox and its ilk: a karaoke feature borrowed from its extensive experience creating standalone karaoke machines.
So it’s first a Bluetooth speaker (that looks pretty cool, if you like shiny stuff) — and second it will have a secret power unguessed at by your guests until you reveal its secondary purpose, as a fully-fledged, 8,000-song karaoke machine. Its secret is safe until you decide it’s karaoke time.
The Singing Machine is slated to go on sale later this October for $300, according to Wired.com.
2. Karaoke Anywhere
Plenty of apps offer karaoke functionality, but Karaoke Anywhere purports to be “the world’s first and only” one with a streaming library of 10K songs (if you subscribe for $10 per month), or any of 40,000 songs if you buy them individually, once you exhaust the freely-included options. Plus, it lets you import karaoke files from elsewhere (MP3+G).
You can plug your iOS device into your television if you buy adapter cables for that from Apple, but a better option: AirPlay mirroring and an Apple TV.
Karaoke Anywhere is not exactly new, but the latest version, released a couple of weeks ago, adds more free music. The lite version is free, although unlocking songs can be expensive (in other words, if you’re going to use it a lot, go for the subscription).
If you don’t want actual karaoke songs (i.e. with the original vocals removed), and are up for more of a singalong — or if you just plain like lyrics on your television as a fun diversion or conversation piece — musiXmatch offers an interesting option. Just use its new iOS app to play any song, and chances are, musiXmatch will have the lyrics for that song. Mirror the app to your television, assuming you have an Apple TV, and bang, the karaoke-style lyrics will show up on the screen.
Again, musiXmatch’s option doesn’t have karaoke versions, so you will hear lyrics. The advantage of this approach: It’ll let you sing along with music outside of the typical karaoke catalog (“Don’t Stop Believin’” and so on), and if you have Apple TV, it’ll only cost you $5 per year, as it comes free with the subscription version of musiXmatch.
Bonus: If you’re looking to embarrass yourself not in the home, try Smule Sing to reach a potentially global audience.