From what I’ve seen of it at Sydney karaoke I’d have to say yes.

When I first saw this advertised at a Sydney karaoke show I was intrigued. However when I saw it in practice I was confounded.

At the back of the pub there was a computer monitor and a keyboard hooked up to an intranet hub. As I placed my beer on the table next to the keyboard I was confronted with a screen offering several option:

  • Search by artist.
  • Search by song title.
  • Search by genre.

I decided to search for “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.The first search I chose was by artist. On selecting this I was taken to a second screen and I was confronted with an alphabetical selection screen. I chose “J” which took me to a screen listing all the bands and artists beginning with “J”. It was at about this time that disillusionment set in. Of course not all the artists beginning with J would fit on the screen. So I clicked the page down option. And pressed it again. And again. And so forth. Final I found that “Journey” was not available. Hmm.

The second search I did was by song title. This option allowed me to type in the whole song title. The problem is sometime I can’t remember the correct title, hence why it’s better to search by artist. Take Dean Martins, “That’s Amore” for example. Some people remember it as “It’s Amore” or just “Amore”. “Don’t Stop Believing”, however is more straight forward. The result of my search yielded three options. One by the Cast of Glee, one by just Glee, and one by Standard. I figured it must be the one by Standard. The song is about 25 years old after all, well perhaps not old enough to be a standard but the best match of the three. So I selected it and then typed my name. I also needed another beer.
Paperless Karaoke Sydney Karaoke

I waited some time for my name to be called. Long enough to doubt if the system had worked and if I was in the singer rotation at all. I chatted to the regulars and waited while a few people sang. Then the host sang. I question the professionalism when a host sings while there are people who haven’t sung in the rotation.

A Sydney Karaoke ┬áHost should only sing in special circumstances. Firstly, as the first singer to make sure the microphones, levels and equipment are working. Secondly, if during the show there appears to be a technical issue that needs to be checked. And thirdly to sing the last song of the night as a polite way of saying “Good night. Get out. Bars closing. Time to go to bed”. If it’s a slow night the host should sing as a way to spruik the Karaoke, but only if they have a good singing voice. I don’t know how crap singers get a job as a karaoke host. Probably because not enough people complain to the bar manager. I wish more people complained because these hosts were painful.

I digress. So after the host sang the other host sang. Two hosts and a paperless system. Give me a break. Then some really drunk woman who slurred and was a little too intimate with the microphone sang. I wasn’t going to be using that microphone.

To cut a long crappy story short, finally it was my turn. I was called up and the music started. It was the Glee version of Don’t stop believing. I told the host that I wanted the Journey version. He tried again. Another variation of the Glee version. Okay, this is actually getting worse. I asked the host if he had Proud Mary, Tina Turners version. Nope. Don’t Hold Back, Potbellez. Nope. Drops of Jupiter, Train. Yes, pay dirt. I sang the song. I was brilliant. The drunk woman lurched forward for a hug. I side stepped and fled the venue.

Now if I had used a paper song slip I would have left ten minutes earlier. That’s ten minutes I’ll never get back.

So why bother with a paperless song request system? Paper song request slips are so easy. It also gives the singers the opportunity to meet the host. The karaoke host is the host after all. Part of their job is to make people feel welcome. A dumb computer terminal is about as welcoming as a Darlek. On a busy night four or five A4 pieces of paper, cut into twenty-four song slips is all you need. Hardly an environmental disaster. I figure the resources used to make the computer, monitor, keyboard and mouse would have a greater impact than ten years worth of song slips.

If it took me ten minutes to figure out how to use the paperless system, on a busy night there would be a que around the corner. Admittedly the next time I use it it will only take two or three minutes, depending on how drunk I am. However it only takes seconds to fill out a song slip and hand it to the host. So why bother? Hence my well considered opinion that it’s a gimmick. A much better gimmick is a smoothly run show with a friendly host who can sing, but not to much.

I’m not in the “name and shame game” (although I do like to rhyme) so I won’t “out” the karaoke operator who put on such a train wreck of a show. Nor will I be reviewing their show. I only review shows that are worth going to.

Paperless karaoke systems add no value to a Sydney karaoke show.