Month: January 2010

Karaoke Challenge: I won´t back down

Every person has their go to song during tough times. Over the past week, I´ve found myself singing along to Tom Petty´s I won´t back down in the back of my mind, while dealing with what could easily be described as a "tough" personal week, and now I have the chance to sing it out loud. That´s right, this week´s karaoke challenge is the classic message of defiance, I won´t back down.


Petty wrote I won´t back down as the first single on his solo debut, Full Moon Fever. The succesful song, topping the Rock charts and peaking at number 12, had plenty of starpower behind the hit. The song was cowritten by Petty´s buddy, lead of ELO John Lynne, and featured the Beatle´s Ringo Starr on drums and George Harrison on guitar.



So, whether you´re boss is riding your back, school is drowning you, or some other crazy stuff is going on in your life, think of Tom Petty and belt out I won´t back down. Post your rendition in the forum and you could be featured in next week´s newsletter.

Retro Disco with the Bee Gees

It wasn't until films such as Saturday Night Fever and Thank God It's Friday that disco's rose in mainstream popularity. The Bee Gees, the Jacksons and Donna Summer played a crucial role in pioneering the disco genre. But the disco era was more than music, it was a lifestyle for many. When we think of the disco era the first thing that come to mind is the disco ball, afros, Studio 54, quad roller skates and disco clothes such as leisure suits, funky disco shirts, disco men's platform shoes, polyester disco pants, etc. Those were the days!



So, it was in this era that the singing brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice took the American disco scene by storm. It is estimated that the Bee Gees' record sales totaled more than 200 million, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all-time. The Bee Gees were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Their legacy is so profound that a 1997 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame citation says "Only Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees".



Unfortunately, Maurice who was actually musical director of the trio passed away in January 2003 due to a strangulated intestine. In the same year, The Bee Gees received the Grammy Legend Award. Since then the remaining Barry and Robyn have occasionally got together to play at charity concerts. They also played at the 30th annual Prince's Trust Concert in the UK on 20 May 2006. According to perthnow, Robin has recently been touring Europe as a solo performer but there are still no plans to resurrect the Bee Gees banner. After Maurice's death, Robin and Barry decided to retire the group name, leaving it to represent the three brothers together.



At Red Karaoke, in honor of this legendary trio and to celebrate a bygone disco era, we're happy to bring an assortment of Bee Gees karaoke tracks for you to have fun recording and dancing. So, dust off your disco ball and invite your best Bee Gees-lovin' pals to have a karaoke disco party now.


New ranking and RKBot

RKBotThe rankings and the way in which they are generated have always been one of the most debated issues on Red Karaoke, and any other site that offers the chance to sing or upload music and receive votes. No matter how clear and well planned the system, the popular votes always end in creating problems, because preferences vary from one person to the next, and because many times the system is abused by voting for buddies, voting in return or retaliation, or sometimes by intents to manipulate the ratings and rankings.


In Red Karaoke, we have spent nearly three years working through this problem. Even after creating multiple changes and improvements constantly, the ranking always creates huge debates, protests and complaints, due almost solely to the abuse of the popular voting. The problem is largely based in the confusion that the rankings based on popular votes will show the best singers, when in reality, it almost never does: to be popular in a community of singers has nothing to do with singing well or badly. It´s possibly to be an exceptional singer and never receive any votes because you have no friends in the community, or even because a great singer doesn´t get along well with everyone, or creates jealousy. So, often there are great singers missing from the rankings, which makes them angry, which creates arguments and debate, etc…


The Red Karaoke team has been circling this problem for more than a year, searching for a solution that can make both sides happy: for those who have great vocal technique, and for those that are popular for their personality, have many friends, or have more free time to meet people within the community.


Our solution is RKBot. ;)



RKBot is software, a robot, a machine that analyzes and calculates, completely automatically, the technical quality of any recording. RKBot analyizes the following elements of each recording:


Notes: This relates to how the notes of the melody line are interpreted. Each note is defined by the start, duration, quality of intonation, intensity and the color (how well the note was sung). The color is derived from the results of the analysis of intonation and expression.


Intonation: This relates to to the relative intonation of the voice and the melody over time. In order to judge the melody, RKBot also compares the relativity of the notes with the pattern of intonation.


Expression: This relates to the expressive and ornamental style choices of the singer (vibrato, scoops, portamentos, etc.) The primordial difference between a professional singer and an enthuisast is precicely in the musical expression.


Based on these criteria, RKBot assigns a series of scores and presents a final average for each recording, between 1 and 10. The higher the score given by RKBot, in theory will mean the song analyzed is of a better technical quality. Although it is important to remember one thing: RKBot is not perfect. It is possible that errors may occur, and it is possible that a recording which seems mediocre may get good scores. It is also possible that a recording of bad quality may get a lower score, though the actual vocal techinique is good.


For this reason it´s important to take RKBot´s score with a grain of salt, but in general we believe that he will do a great job of scoring recordings, and will serve as a good judge of the singers with the best technical skills and those lacking something.


But remember, to have a good vocal technique does not always mean a good singer. There are singers whose vocal technique is appalling, and still are very succesfull selling disk by the millions. In music, not everything is black and white, and there are often many influential factors. Without a doubt many professional and succesful singers would receive low scored from RKBot. ;)


Don´t be afraid or worried if their RKBot score are low: it doesn´t mean you still can triumph as a singer and gain many fans.


A very important different between RKBot and other automatic scoring systems like those of Singstar or Lips, is that our RKBot does not compare the recording with the original song. So be sure not to copy about the original, it´s not taken into account. As different as your version could be from the original, what is being rated is a good vocal techinque. This is a big plus of RKBot in comparison with the games mentioned, and permist much more variety and freedom while singing.



And precisely for this reason, because the machine isn´t everything, and in order to cover every aspect of the site, from now on in Red Karaoke we will have two rankings. Or better said, two groups of rankings: there will be a ranking of users and recordings generated directly from the results of RKBot, and another ranking that we have called “popular” because it deals precisely with the popularity of members based on the votes they receive and the participation on the site. This ranking will also be influenced in part by the RKBot scores, so that working to improve your scores will be important for everyone.


This way, we will have rankings of singers and recording with good vocal technique and rankings of singers and recording that are most popular. The best of both worlds, and both at the same level, with the same space in the main page, and with a spot in each users records and the ranking pages.


Obviously, there remains the option to not receive votes as there has been, for those who don´t want to enter the game of the rankings. Thos who do not want to receive votes will not receive scores from RKBot either. And those who wish to receive votes will be analyzed by RKBot whether they like it or not. That is to say, those who decide to play, will have to play in both ranking, RKBot and Popular. You cannot be in one or the other: it has to be both, which will make the game that much more fun.



Another important improvement is that, from now, every one of the rankings will only take into account the recordings made in the last 60 days. The older recordings will keep there votes and scores, but will no longer count in the rankings. This new rule will help to be sure the users and recordings that are most prominent are active members of the community, and make the rankings much more dynamic. From what we understand, a person who has not recorded anything in the last 60 days is not very interested in being in the rankings, and so won´t be taken into account.


An important detail: RKBot has only been working a dew days, so it still hasn´t been able to process the scores of recording older than 60 days. This process will continue over the next 3 months, whch means the older recordings, for the moment, will not show the RKBot score, but will soon in the near future.


Another change is that now, in order to receive an average popular rating of a recording, you must have a minimum of 3 votes. Until a recording receives 3 votes, it will not show its average rating. In this way it will be more difficult to know whom and how someone has voted on a song and will avoid some problems. Of course, votes will continue to be anonymous in order to avoid retaliations and fights. In any case, for those who want to know all about how the rankings and voting work (as much as we can tell), we recommend you visit this page.



Essentially, all of this is no more than a game. The rankings simply add a bit of spice to this community. Red karaoke, with RKBot, will seems much more like a videogame like Singstar or Lips, which also give a score to each song. However, in Red Karaoke, we also have the popular vote which makes it much more complete than a traditional videogame. And given that RKBot does not compare the recordings with the original songs when scoring, this gives much more freedom to sing uniquely.


Having RKBot allows us to launch new games and new contests in the future, which we hope will make participation much more fun. We are sure many users will use RKBot to organize parties and games at home, or generate parallel competitions between daring members now that we have an impartial judge.



But RKBot isn´t just the independent judge that so many users have demanded. He is also a teacher, your own singing coach: you will be able to compete with yourself in order to get the best scores, which will help you improve your technique little by little. We are convinced that with RKBot the recordings of our site will improve, and it will be much more interesting for everyone.


Karaoke Challenge: Dancing in the Moonlight

Youtube has all sorts of interesting oddities, and plenty of inspiration for karaoke lovers like us here on Red Karaoke. Why just this morning, while stumbling through the assortment of home made fan vids and music videos, I happened accross a very interesting cover of Dancing in the moonlight by Alyson Stoner.


In case you didn´t know, Alyson Stoner happens to only be 16, though you may recognize a younger version of her as a kid dancer in several Missy Elliott videos. Stoner will probably be the next teen sensation Disney turns out, but after seeing her rendition of Dancing in the moonlight, a song more than two decades older than her and in my opinion one of the best one hit wonders out there, Stoner´s already topped Miley in my book.



Alyson Stoner covered the 70´s hit, King Harvest´s one and only success, for an upcoming Disney stright to DVD release, so its definitely a kid oriented version of the tune. My guess is the first time Stoner heard the song wasn´t from King Harvest´s 1973 album, but probably the much more popular 2000 cover by Toploader that was featured in every teen girl´s favorite romance A walk to remember.



Either way, teeny bopper Alyson Stoner reminded me of one of my favorite songs I haven´t heard in awhile, and she did it in her own pop lite style, so kudos.


Can you do better? That´s right, this week´s challenge is Dancing in the moonlight (the 2000 version), and I´d love to see a new twist. Post your rendition in the forum, and yours could be featured in next week´s newsletter!

Musicians Helping Haiti

With the world´s attention turned towards Haiti in the aftermath of last week´s earthquake which left thousands dead and millions more in need of food, water and shelter, many musicians have taken the chance to use their fame as a key tool in generating relief for a devestated nation.


Download to Donate for Haiti is a project that got started by Linkin Park and Dave Matthews Band´s respective non profits, Music for Relief and BAMA Works, in collaboration with the United Nations and Habitat for Humanity. The two groups are teaming up with artists like Peter Gabriel, Alanis Morissette, the All American Rejects and Enrique Inglesias among others to contribute completely new material to one album which will be available on Music for Relief´s website.


U2, Jay-z and Swizz beats have also announced they are joining forces to create new material which will be featured on Itunes to benefit the relief effort.


U2 is also just one of the headlining acts on MTV´s major benefit concert airing this Friday, January 22nd at 8 p.m. Joining Bono´s crew will be several big acts including Sting, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Alicia Keys. All the proceeds will benefit organizations such as Redcross, Oxfam, and Unicef, as well as the Yéle Haiti Earthquake Fund, run by Haitian born Wyclef Jean who will be hosting the benefit concert alongside George Clooney.


Other artists such as Lady Gaga, James Taylor and Patti Smith, and many more are headlinging their own concerts where all proceeds will go to different Haiti relief efforts.



Don´t leave yourself out of the mix. Join the Haiti relief effort by supporting any one of these artists´ projects or an organization like Redcross or Oxfam, and make sure not to miss MTV´s benefit which will be broadcasted on several major network and cable channels.

Karaoke Challenge: Papa was a rollin´stone

Welcome to another Karaoke challenge, where you could have the chance for your karaoke recording to be featured in Red Karaoke´s weekly newsletter. This week´s challenge is the motown 70´s hit Papa was a Rollin´Stone.


Papa was a rollin´stone was a soul single, originally written for the Motown group The Undisputed truth, though it was the Temptations that turned Papa was a rollin´stone into the original 12 minute, billboard topping, grammy winning classic that we all know and love.



The single´s instrumental introduction, including the infamous bass guitar and cymbals, make Papa was a rollin´ stone stand out among the Temptaions many hits, and the hits of the time. The vocal arrangement and emotion the Temptations were known for, however, turned Papa was a rollin´stone into one of their last greatest songs.


It may not be the easiest challenge ever, but aren´t you a little tempted? Join in this week´s karaoke challenge and try singing The Temptation´s Papa was a rollin´stone. Post your rendition in the forum and it could be featured in next Thursday´s newsletter.

Artist Debut: Reba McEntire

Red Karaoke users have been begging for more country, and when you ask, we deliver! Today we welcome a new artist to Red Karaoke; country favorite, Reba McEntire.


While Reba may be a new face to Red Karaoke, she´s no newcomer to the music industry. McEntire has been singing since childhood, first as a part of a small group with her sister and brother, and later when, still in high school, she was discovered singing the national anthem at the Oklahoma City rodeo and signed by Mercury Records.



Though her career began in 1976 and she landed several top 10 singles with Mercury, McEntire´s real success came after her first number one single with in 1984, How blue. From the mid 80´s to the late 90´s, McEntire was without a doubt the dominant female in the country music industry, taking center stage with her dynamic persona and distinctive twangy voice.



McEntire, however, knew how to use more than just her voice. She was one of the first country artists to really take advantage of music videos, creating intricate plots and always including famous celebrities to act out her story driven songs. McEntire was also an entrepenuer, creating the succesful promotional and publishing company Starstruck Entertainment in 1988 with her second husband, manager Narvel Blackstock.



There is no doubting Reba McEntire has remained a force to be reckoned with throughout her career. She holds seven ACM Top Female Vocalist Awards, 12 AMA´s for Favorite Female Country Artist and four CMA´s for Female Vocalist of the year. She has been honored as the CMA entertainer of the year and won more than a handful of Grammys. Between 1986 and 1997 alone she had 17 number 1 hits and another 15 singles that landed in the top 5.



McEntire has continued to remain a jack of all trades, with acting roles in films such as Tremor opposite Kevin Bacon, Little Rascals and One night at Mccool´s. She was even offered the role of Molly Brown in Titanic! She has published an autobiography which became the basis for her 2000 stage tour, starred on broadway, receiving critical acclaim for her role in Annie get your gun, and even has her own hit WB series Reba.


With her 26th studio album, Keep on loving you, yet again topping country music charts and her upcoming appearance as the ACM awards host, for the 12th time, I´d say it´s about time Red Karaoke caught up. Enjoy these new karaokes by Reba McEntire; Little Rock, The greatest man I never new, Why haven´t I heard from you, and Forever love, and look for more soon here on Red Karaoke.

Karaoke Challenge: Silly Love Songs

Welcome back everybody to the weekly Karaoke Challenge! There have been a few small changes to the challenge, and since I´m sure we have plenty of new faces along with the new year, I´m going to review just how the Karaoke Challenge works so that everyone can be sure to have the chance to join in.


The Karaoke challenge is a small weekly contest, just for a little bit of fun, that goes on here at Red Karaoke. Every Wednesday a blog will be posted featuring a random karaoke. There will be plenty of information on the song, the artist as well as a video, so that even if a person doesn´t know the song, they can still sing it in the challenge.


When the blog is posted, a thread in the forum Contest and Competitions will be posted with the title of the current week´s challenge. Users will be able to record their renditions and then post a link to their recording within the current challenge thread. Users have one week, until the Wednesday following the challenge announcement to post their entry in the challenge thread. Once Thursday rolls around, one entry will be chosen as the challenge winner and featured in the newsletter which will also be sent out on Thursday.


Now, on to the first challenge of the New Year!


With the new year comes new year´s resolutions, and I don´t know about ya´ll, but one of mine is to be as positive as I can. I don´t know if this has anything to do with why Paul McCartney´s single Silly Love Songs has been stuck in my head, but I couldn´t think of a more positive and fun challenge for our first of the year.


McCartney wrote Silly Love Songs with his band Wings in 1976. Though the number one hit may seem like a silly bit of fluff, it may just be the perkiest in your face song ever written. That´s right, McCartney wrote Silly Love Songs in response to major criticisms for his sentimental style, particularly from former Beatle mate, John Lennon.


Back in the day, Lennon was quoted digging at Paul´s music, calling it "rubbish" and saying, "he couldn´t rock if he tried." Though even in his Beatle days McCartney had been the softie of the group, he didn´t take the criticism so well… at first.


"I listened to him for a few years," said Paul, "and used to think, 'I can't write another of those soppy love songs. We've got to get hard and rocky now.' In the end, though, I realized that I just had to be myself. It's bolder, you know, to say, 'What's the difference? I like it.'"



The sincere and sweet Silly Love Songs reached number one with no trouble at all, and the song which Billboard listed as one of the greatest of all time, was probably the best retort McCartney could give to his critics. "The fact is, deep down, people are very sentimental," McCartney explained it best, "If they watch a sentimental movie at home, they cry, but in public they won't. We don't like to show our emotions; we tend to sneer at that. And in the same way, people may not admit to liking love songs, but that's what they seem to crave."


So put a little love in your heart and in the world by joining in this week´s challenge and sing your own silly rendition of Paul McCartney´s Silly Love Songs. Post your entry in the forum and your recording could be featured in next Thursday´s newsletter.

The Caroller´s Contest Winners!

At last we have decided the winners of the 2009 Caroller´s Contest! We asked users to pick from 10 Christmas carols, get creative and sing their best rendition in the Christmas spirit. Three winners were chosen based on popular vote along with the judges´ criteria of vocal interpretation, style, effort and creativity. With over 40 entries there were plenty of Caroller´s to choose from… and here are our winners!


Oh Holy NightVote for my rendition!


In third place we have the gorgeous vocal stylings of Chevy_Gurl87 of the not so easy hymn Oh holy night. This was already probably one of the harder karaokes to nail, but Chevy_Gurl87 wasn´t deterred, she even sang the carol acapella!


White christmasVote for my rendition!


The second spot on our winner´s list belongs to Colonel_mac whose unique interpretation of the classic White Christmas must have caught not only my ear, but those of the users as well, garnering a good handful of their votes.


Frosty the SnowmanVote for my rendition!


And finally, first place goes to the lovely young duo, Amerimex1kids, and their lively and undeniably cute rendition of Frosty the snowman. What says Christmas spirit better than children sweetly singing Christmas carols? Not much, and it´s obvious users agree!


There were plenty of other great renditions to choose from, so please, take a listen to all the wonderful users who participated in 2009´s Caroller´s Contest. Thank you to everyone who took the time to sing and vote and special congratulations to Chevy_gurl87, Colonelmac and Amerimex1kids for your spots in the winner´s circle!

Artist Feature: Rod Stewart

With over 50 years of rock under his belt, 16 top singles in the US and numerous titles as one of the greatest singers of all time, there is no denying the influential  power of Rod Stewart on the history of rock and roll and even the future of music.



Stewart launched his solo career in 1969, with the album An old raincoat won´t ever let you down, though his distinctively raspy vocals had already been gaining noterierty during his work with the Jeff Beck Group and Faces. Stewart really got his start solo in 1971 when his b-side single Maggie May launched him into the spotlight. After the success of Maggie May came Stewart´s departure from Faces, followed by his move to the US and coinciding with his next big single, Sailing in 1975. In 1976 Stewart had yet another chart topper with his single Tonights the night.



By the end of the 70´s Stewart´s fame was secured as he took on a more glam persona and rolled out the hits, including You´re in my heart, Hot legs, and the disputed disco hit Do ya think I´m sexy. In the 80´s Stewart took yet another direction, this time towards new wave, spawning the top 5 single Young turks as his album Tonight I´m yours went platinum.



In comparison to the joyride of his first decade of songwriting, Stewart´s career slowed down during the 80´s, though he still had several top singles including Some guys have all the luck. He came back by the begining of the 90´s having produced toppers like Forever young, My heart can´t tell you no and Rhythm of my heart. In 93 his MTV unplugged performance of Have I told you lately became a number one single and one of the most recognized versions of the popular song.



Though Stewart has inspired many of today´s top artists, even the likes of Jay-z who sampled Stewart´s Forever young for one of his recent hits, Stewart himself has been getting back to his routes and the musicians that inspired his career. In December Stewart released Soulbook, a collection of singles from the 60´s and 70´s all revamped in Stewart´s classic voice.


With selections like If you don´t know me by now, Wonderful world, and Just my imagination, Stewart is probably one of the few rockers who can pull off soul as good as the originals. Fans will get a chance to hear it all live this summer when Stewart launches his 2010 tour for Soulbook, but until then enjoy Rod Stewart´s classics here on Red Karaoke.

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