Commentary

12/26/2012

Karaoke Xbox Live App Review

“Hit Me With Your Best Shot”. A guide to throwing a sweet karaoke party.

By: Rich Shivener

Filed Under: Life Music Review Rhythm

If you’re interested in hosting a karaoke party, the Karaoke app for Xbox Live is worth downloading. But be warned: It’s not perfect, just like every karaoke night I’ve been to.

My impressions are based on the karaoke party I put together Saturday night, a night of dancing, amazing to slightly questionable singing, and, of course, drinking. When I woke up Sunday, I put together this step-by-step guide under the auspices of a review. Keep in mind that the app may be updated, as is the case with most downloadable titles.

1) Decide how long the party will rage on at your hovel. Unlike other karaoke games, the Karaoke app requires that you rent its song library for 2, 6 or 24 hours, costing no more than 800 Microsoft Points. The rental time, if you will, is continuous and does not stop even when you’ve quit the app. I was disappointed about that policy, but I managed. I started navigating the game about an hour before the party. The six-hour pass was more than enough.

2) Next, check out the available songs, all of which are “in the style of” said artist. The app contains more than 8,000 songs among such genres as R&B, Disney and Classic Rock. You’ll see “Friends in Low Places,” “Sweet Caroline,” “My Girl,” “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” to name a few among the smash hits at karaoke bars. What you won’t see are “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and “Summer Nights.”

One friend mused: “Maybe some songs are too expensive to license out?” I wasn’t sure. Why would the app have every Beatles and Rolling Stones hit then?

3) That said, you might consider looking at a list of the most popular songs at karaoke nights and see which of songs on there are available on the app. Or you might ask friends what songs they usually sing. Then you can do a little bit of searching and compiling before the party. I did the latter, queuing up some holiday songs. I was a natural at “Jingle Bell Rock,” if I do say so myself, while my cousin embodied Kay Starr’s “The Man with the Bag.”

4) Consider writing up your own catalogue of the songs available in the Karaoke app. I couldn’t find a printable list on Xbox Live or the Karaoke Channel’s website.  Sure, the app has an easy search function, but your guests won’t want to search for songs one by one. I’m willing to bet that they, like my guests, would rather just flip through a book and tell you their selections, having you queue up the music. The only person searching for songs should be you, and you should be efficient at that.

An upside is that the Karaoke app is compatible with the Xbox Smartglass app, 0n which you can search for songs by genre. Still, you can’t conduct a search that covers all genres, meaning that you have to first know the genre in which the song resides.

5) Consider making a wired connection between your Xbox and modem because the app streams the songs from Karaoke Channel’s online collection, rather than clog up your hard drive with 8,000 songs. If you can’t make a wired connection, then make sure your Xbox is one of a few devices sucking on your wireless network.

I emphasize this step. On Saturday night, when a few friends were dancing and singing along to “September” by the Earth, Wind & Fire, the song cut out abruptly – right in the middle of a “ba de ya.” The bottom left of the screen noted the song was “connecting.” A few people booed. I opened another beer, and then I turned off the Wi-Fi features on my phone and tablet. For one reason or another, I didn’t have any more problems.

6) Speaking of booze, I think that’s essential for offering something comparable to a karaoke bar. Friends brought their own liquid courage, and my wife and I shared some as well as snacks. If anything, the drinks watered down some of the disappointment.

Though I’ve pointed out some flaws of the Karaoke app on Xbox Live, for the record, I will say that I enjoyed having a party with it in the mix. I’ll remember one friend’s soulful performances of “All I Want for Christmas is You” and “I Believe I Can Fly,” followed by another’s drunken ramblings over “Folsom Prison Blues.” And let’s not forget my wife and her good friend shouting “How Will I Know.”

Overall, bonds were formed by booze and sonic glue, even if it wasn’t the strongest.

***

6

Karaoke is praiseworthy and flawed.

(and goofy fun).

Filed Under: Life Music Review Rhythm

About the Author:
Rich Shivener is the Lead Editor of Bit Creature. He is also a writer, instructor and iPad whisperer from the shores of Northern Kentucky. You can find him in Publishers Weekly and Writer's Digest, among other places.

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