Singin’ In The Den: YouTube Karaoke Is a Great Way to Practice AND Discover New Material
When I moved to Toronto, in 2008, I left behind my karaoke machine. By then, the once-gleaming, silver system my brother gave me for Christmas 2001 was a near wreck, its speakers crackly-sounding, its cassette-tape door permanently gaping open, its volume sadly muted.
But I can’t say I’ve missed it too much, because I recently discovered karaoke on the web. Showtune karaoke. This is not only a fantastic way to discover new material, it’s an incredibly fun way to practice. Having started voice lessons last spring, I consider pulling up and singing these songs my reward for making it through the grind of scales and arpeggios.
Like so many pop-culture delights, showtune karaoke can be found on YouTube. And after hours of poking around, I think I can now direct anyone who’s interested to the best that’s out there. For me, it all comes down to three channels, all evidently managed by young ladies, and all offering respectable collections of showtunes, plenty of them appropriate for cabaret. And unlike many, many other channels, these three feature videos of not just the instrumentals, but the lyrics as well, which flash on-screen in time with the music. Angelique, Anna, and Jessica: I’m kind of going a little fangirl. Thanks for all your hard work!
With more than 110 videos and 5,000 subscribers, Angelique’s AngelsBwyKaraokes is the gold standard. Each video features a custom introduction and lyrics that are excellently timed to the instrumentals. Her collection is wildly comprehensive, with selections from “Annie,” “Pippin,” “Spring Awakening,” “Rent,” “Aida,” “Company,” “Chicago,” “Guys and Dolls,” and much more. Her recent addition of “Shy,” from “Once Upon A Mattress,” proves that this girl is full of surprises. Angelique features a different subscriber performing a new song every week, which is a fun way to build the brand and cultivate a following.
Stage Left Karaoke
Stage Left Karaoke has the best selection of old-school Broadway tunes. Among 16-year-old Anna’s cabaret gems: “The Party’s Over,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” “I’ll Know,” “All That Jazz,” “If I Were a Bell,” and “If He Walked Into My Life.” But scroll down and you’ll also see the likes of more modern material such as “Gimme, Gimme,” and “Here I Am.” There’s also a killer “You’ll Never Get Away From Me,” which I enjoy corralling my husband into singing with me.
Each of the more than 60 videos appears to have been downloaded directly from a karaoke music company called Pocket Songs. The upside to this is that the lyrics change color as you sing them, indicating exactly where you are in a song. Also, the key, name of the composer/lyricist, and song duration are shown at the start of each video, which can be helpful. The downside is that Anna’s videos lack a personal touch, which brings me to…
Jessica has taken the time to create lovely videos that include not just lyrics but show logos and photos as well. She has even gone into Garage Band and edited some of the music to make each piece work as well as it can in this format. Because they’re so well done, even duets and ensemble pieces are easy to follow. And Cheno fans take note: Lots of “Wicked” here, plus “The Girl in 14G,” one of my personal faves. As of this writing, Jessica had posted only 19 songs, but what’s there is terrific and evidently made with love.