The best karaoke party ideas and equipment

A karaoke party can turn out one of two ways: an absolute blast or a total bust. No one wants the reputation of throwing a bad party, especially one involving something as hit-or-miss as karaoke. You want your friends and party-goers to have more fun than they've had in ages, and leave saying, "Let's do this again!"

Here's a failsafe guide to throwing an awesome karaoke party:

Music, Music, Music

Nothing is more important to a karaoke party than having the right music, and lots of it. The right music means different things to different groups - if you're going to host a very casual karaoke crowd, you'll want lots of up-tempo, fun, campy songs. A casual crowd won't care if a campy song is sung poorly. You'll be shocked at how many typically shy folks will get up and butcher a bad '80s song if the vibe is relaxed and the music is right!

On the other hand, if your crowd is more serious about karaoke, you'll want to make sure you have an arsenal of ballads to compliment your campy music. More serious karaoke performers like to sing challenging songs with lots of passion. A good mix of up-tempo songs and ballads should do the trick.

Whatever your approach, the more music you can pull together, the better. 20 or 30 songs won't cut it at a karaoke party. You should have hundreds, if not more. Half the fun at a karaoke party is letting people comb through the various songs and try to pick one.

If you're using multiple CDs for your party, take the time to type a list of all the songs in your collection. Print out multiple copies of the list and give them to your guests when they arrive. Making your guests pass around CD cases is just not as much fun, not to mention it will slow down your party when you try to match the CD to the CD case it came from.

Get the Right Equipment

Whether you already own a karaoke setup or you're renting one, you have to have the right equipment. People will get frustrated quickly if they can't hear the music, the microphone keeps shorting out or the video screen won't work. Invest a few extra dollars into good equipment, and it could save your party reputation in the long run.

Choosing the right equipment might mean springing for a wireless microphone versus one with a cord, or renting the second tier sound system instead of the one that looks like it was built in 1975. The equipment needs to be solid, able to produce good sound, and should simply work. You don't want to spend half the party trying to fix a technical problem.

Set the Tone

For better or for worse, as the host of a karaoke party, you have a lot of pressure on your shoulders to keep the party moving. You're in charge of setting the vibe for the evening - if you're having a blast, most likely your guests will too. This might mean singing a song when no one wants to step up or needling a shy friend to perform a duet with you.

It's important to keep the party moving. If there's too much of a lull between songs, people will lose interest. Consider making a signup sheet so you know who will perform next and what song they'll be singing. It might be a good idea to have a dedicated DJ to handle the transitions between CDs or songs, and to coax someone to sing when the crowd seems hesitant. In the case of most smaller karaoke parties, this role will probably default to you, the host - but that's alright, it's a fun job. If you have fun doing it, the party will surely be a success.

Do It Up Right

On top of everything karaoke-related, spend some time on general party planning decorating the party room. Fill up balloons with helium, dim the lights, have drinks and food ready to serve. Create an environment that makes people comfortable immediately. The more comfortable people are, the more willing they'll be to step up and perform instead of worrying about embarrassment. If the lights are too harsh and there's nothing to eat or drink, people will sit around staring at the floor. Giving the room a good vibe will go a long way for your party.

Throwing a great karaoke party is no small feat. Unless your friends are incredibly outgoing, you'll need to do some coaxing to get them performing comfortably. But if you follow these steps, they'll be smiling, laughing and belting out songs in no time.

By Shawn Currie