Month: May 2010

Karaoke Challenge: I believe I can fly

We've had some pretty difficult challenges in the last few weeks, so I thought this week I would choose a song everyone should know and that shouldn't be too hard to sing, R. Kelly's most family friendly and uplifting single, I believe I can fly.



I myself am not a huge fan of R. Kelly, but I've got to admit that I love the song I believe I can fly and everything about it. Not only does it have a powerful positive message in it's lyrics, but it was also featured in one of the best family movies even by today's standards, Space Jam (Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny if you don't remember it).



I believe I can fly became one of Kelly's most successful songs, winning him 3 grammies and landing him on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. The song has been covered from bands like Me First and the Gimme Gimmes to artists like James Ingram. But if the song is just to warm and gooey for you, why not try doing a parody of it – Jim Carrey style?



Whether you are completely serious or just goofing around, sing I believe I can fly for this week's karaoke challenge. Post a link to your rendition in the forum and you could be featured in next week's newsletter and on Red Karaoke's official facebook page.

Artist Debut: Jason Derulo

This week Red Karaoke welcomed the hot, young musical commodity Jason Derulo (anybody else share this crush?) and his recent hit In my head to our karaoke catalogue. But though Derulo may be new to our site, and just this year released his self titled debut album, he is no newbie to the music industry.



Jason Derulo has been performing and writing music since he was five. That's right, at the age when most of us were fighting over crayons, Derulo was composing his first song, Crush on you. Fast forward to 16, when most of us were fighting over high school crushes and Derulo could be found writing hits for a few artists you might have heard of like Lil Mama, Sean Kingston, and P. Diddy -just to name a few.



And although Derulo may have had plenty of success writing and producing music and records for other artists, his plan along was to make his own solo career. And after his 2009 release of Whatcha Say, an infectious US chart topper that brought the sexy R&B singer and dancer to the spotlight, it seems Derulo will have no trouble making his dreams come true.



2009 also saw the release of Derulo's top 10 hit In my head, the single we just added for your singing pleasuer to the Red Karaoke catalogue, and this year he has released yet another popular single, Ridin' solo, his energetic "celebration of being single."



Next on the list is Derulo's first solo tour, beginning in the UK this August. But with accolades such as the opening act for Lady Gaga's Monster Ball Tour, something tells me the "beginning" artist won't have any trouble with his first tour.



Enjoy singing Jason Derulo's hit In my head, and look for more hits from Derulo soon to be added to the Red Karaoke catalogue.

Karaoke Challenge: Beautiful

After a few weeks of male dominated karaoke challenges, I thought it high time to pick a more female oriented song for the weekly contest. Of course, I still would love to see the guys give a go at Christina Aguilera's moving single Beautiful, since the message of that ballad is for everyone, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if the ladies win it this week.



Beautiful was written by Linda Perry as a very personal, heart wrenching ballad about overcoming the negativity and insecurities that always seem to try and bring a person down.



When Perry let Christina Aguilera hear the song in a recording session, Aguilera begged to have it on her 2002 album (and I must say may favorite of hers) Stripped. With Perry's okay, the song became Aguilera's fifth worldwide top ten hit and bringing Aguilera much more respect to her career and image after the relative failure of the first single from Stripper, Dirrty.



While Christina Aguilera's incredible voice may be hard to match, I think everyone can understand the deep message of the song Beautiful and should give it a try in this weeks challenge. Sing your rendition and post a link to it in the forum, you could be featured in next week's newsletter and also on Red Karaoke's official facebook page.

RKs 5 Fave Internet Phenomena

With social networks like Facebook and websites like Youtube dominating the world wide web, we all have become familiar with the way the "viral video" or how digital downloads can now generate mass media fame and shape the music industry. Take, for example, the latest internet music sensation, Greyson Michael Chance, whose Youtube video of himself performing Lady Gaga's hit Paparazzi led the 13 year old who nobody knew to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and garner over 17 million hits on his video.



As somewhat of a web sensation ourselves here at Red Karaoke, being one of the first social networks for singing karaoke online, we can appreciate the importance of the internet music sensation, and so we have decided to honor five of our favorite internet music phenoms. So read on for RK's 5 Favorite Web Phenomena.



Owl City


Adam Young, a.k.a. the creator of the synthpop musical project Owl City, may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there is no denying that he is an excellent representation of the way fame can be generated solely through the internet, considering Owl City's major following and later it's record deal were entirely due to the attention Young received on his Myspace page. Young's "viral popularity" continued after the release of his album Ocean Eyes and the hit Fireflies, giving Owl City the number one spot on the electronic charts in 2010 and also ranking on Amazon MP3's Top 10 Most Downloaded Albums.



Single Ladies


Single Ladies (Put a ring on it) was Beyonce's 5th solo hit on the Billboard charts and considered one of the best singles of 2008, but it's legacy has become even greater, creating an impact that may never fade. The choreography of the video not only helped it win a handful of awards, it created a youtube craze with thousands of parodies or reinterpretations from both celebrities (Justin Timberlake on SNL, The Jonas Brothers, The Glee Cast) and relative nobodies (that bouncing toddler, the controversial troupe of 7 year old dancers), and even inspired Beyonce to include youtube videos of her fans dancing as background videos during some of her live performances.



Prison Thriller


Michael Jackson's death in 2009 devestated the music industry, and generated a worldwide horde of musical tributes including internet song and dance covers of his greatest hits. But before all of those imitations, there was the "viral video" featuring 1500 inmates of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center performing Michael Jackson's Thriller, practically to perfection. The video, conceived by prison chief Byron F. Garcia as an enjoyable way to keep prisoners fit, was viewed of 250,000 times within 48 hours, and received about 300,000 views a day at its peak, reaching over 42 million views since 2007.



Susan Boyle


No list of musical phenomena from the last few years could exclude the amazing rise of Britain's Got Talent celebrity Susan Boyle, who went from being the woman who everyone laughed at when she announced her wish to be the next Elaine Paige, to the woman who was laughing from the top of the charts in 2009 with one of the highest selling albums of the year. And though Boyle's talent speaks for itself, her fame was more than boistered by the youtube popularity of her audition song I dreamed a dream, which to date has received more than 370 million views.



Pants on the Ground


This season of American Idol has been a bit of a bust, with no one in particular really standing out, especially in comparison with last year's divisive final two Adam Lambert and Kris Allen. But the audition weeks were a different story, and no one can forget the stand out performance of 62 year old Larry Platt and his original song Pants on the ground, which became an internet smash with over 5 million youtube views, 1 million fans on facebook and covers by Jimmy Fallon and Bret Favre. All that aside, I knew that Platt's Pants on the ground had to be an internet sensation when I visited home to find my Dad singing the song.



Here it goes again


And last not but not least, is the viral video Here it goes again from one of my favorite musical groups Ok Go, though admittedly, if this video hadn't become so darn popular and one of Youtube's most watched videos with over 50 million views, I probably wouldn't know who the heck Ok Go was. But neither would most of the world, considering Here it goes again, and it's video containing intricate choreography involving six treadmills and no breaks in filming, became their first major hit and their only award winning video.



There you have it, a list of our favorite inspiring internet musical sensations. It is amazing what the internet can do for you with just a little bit hard work and talent, so what are you waiting for? Get out there and create your own musical phenomena with your recording on Red Karaoke, and you could be next ;)

Madonna has prohibited the use of lyrics in her songs for singing karaoke

Madonna, along with the groups Green Day and The Eagles, in an unusual decision, have prohibited the use of lyrics in their songs for singing karaoke in the entire world. This strange decision has been communicated to the affected businesses in a letter sent by the editorial management of their rights: “by express petition of the authors and editors, (…) we ask that all composed/interpreted works by said authors and artists be removed.”


Upon consulting the editors, they have confirmed that this is a decision of those artists, who have given instructions of international reach prohibiting the licensing of karaokes of their works, in such a way that their songs cannot be sung in karaoke form legally neither in the internet or in any other place. In this way, Madonna, Green Day and The Eagles have become artist that do not love the fans that sing their songs.


At Red Karaoke, continuing with our strict policy of complying with the law, we have proceeded to eliminate the synchronization of lyrics with music in all of the karaokes of these “artists”. From today on, their songs will be available to sing as before, but we will no longer show their synchronized lyrics.


In our opinion, this decision by Madonna, Green Day and The Eagles will produce various counterproductive effects for those same artists, and for the music sector in general such as:


  • Depreciating their admirers, those authentic fans that know their songs and sing them, buy their CDs and go to their concerts and that show a true devotion and following of those artists.
  • Punishing the karaoke business that comply with the norms, and encouraging pirating in illegal karaoke web sites. The legal businesses will be obligated to remove the content, while those illegal sites that do not pay any money for rights of the author and do not have licenses, will continue using those karaokes and gaining business as they have up to this point. Upon not finding the content in legal sites, people will favor those sites that do not comply with the law, giving them a larger audience and more revenue.
  • Difficulty in developing and consolidating new models of internet businesses that can contribute to the relief of the loss suffered by artists through the fall in CD sales.

    For all of these reasons we consider this decision erroneous, that will act against their own interests as authors because they will earn less money, against their interests as artists because it will upset their most loyal fans, and against the music industry in general by giving difficulty to new models of business and encouraging illegal web sites.

    Karaoke Challenge: Sir Duke

    Today is the birthday of music legend and one of my all time favorite artists, the amazing Stevie Wonder. So to celebrate his 60th, this week's Karaoke Challenge is his own ode to the greatest legends of music, Sir Duke.


    Stevie Wonder wrote Sir Duke for his albums Songs in the key of life and released it as a single in 1977, when it reached the top of the Billboard charts and became his greatest hit at the time.



    It's no wonder that Sir Duke, a tribute to Duke Ellington with shout outs to Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, became one of Wonder's most popular songs with it's catchy lyrics and upbeat tempo that can't help but invite everyone to "sing, dance and clap their hands."


    This week celebrate the pioneer Stevie Wonder by joining in the challenge and singing his hit Sir Duke. Post a link to your rendition in the forum and you could have the chance to be feature in next week's newsletter and on Red Karaoke's official facebook page!

    Artist Feature: Jay-Z

    With Jay-Z's incredible performance this past weekend on one of the highest rated Saturday Night Live episodes of the last year, which included ont only a medley of his greatest flows but also a showing of his latest chart topper Young Forever, plus the addition of Jay-Z's anthem to his hometown Empire State of Mind to the Red Karaoke catalogue, what better time to give you an inside look at this entertainer turned entrepreneur's world conquering career.



    Brooklyn native Shawn Corey Carter, known in the neighborhood where he began his free styling as Jazzy, became Jay-Z in the early 90's with the help of his musical mentor Jaz-O. After winning several battles against rapper LL Cool J and making appearances on popular songs like Show and Prove by Big Daddy Kane and Da Graveyard by Big L, Jay-Z gained wider fame and was able to release his first official rap single, I can't get with that.


    Still, not major label would give Jay-Z the backing he needed, so Mr. Carter formed Roc-A-Fella Records independently with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs, creating a deal with Priority to distribute their materials. 1996 saw Jay-Z's debut album Reasonable Doubt reach only the 23rd spot on the Billboard charts, despite warm reception from critics and eventually being named on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.


    Jay-Z's follow up In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 was distributed by Def Jam and was executively produced by Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, giving the album a much cleaner production quality and also leading to criticism from dedicated fans that Jay-Z had sold out. Jay-Z later explained that the album was on a very personal level, made during one of the most difficult periods of his life when he was still reeling from the death of his high school classmate and close friend in the industry The Notorious B.I.G.



    Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life was released in 1998 and produced his first major hit Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem). The album has been certified platinum five times and gave Jay-Z his first Grammy, though he controversially boycotted the awards show due to fellow rapper DMX's failure to garner a Grammy nomination.


    The next year saw the release of Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter, plus the ultra successful single Big Pimpin. Unfortunately, the success of Vol. 3 was overshadowed by physical assault accusations against Jay-Z, which he eventually pleaded guilty to, accepting misdemeanor charges and three years probation.



    In 2000 Jay-Z's album The Dynasty: Roc La familia, orginally intended to become acompilation album for Roc-A-Fella artists, not only helped to introduce newcomers such as The Neptunes and Kanye West, but also introduced a more soulful sound on the part of Jay-Z.


    Following a controversial beef with Prodigy and the beginnings of a long running fued with rapper Nas, Jay-Z released his 6th studio album The Blueprint which has come to be considered one of hip hop's classic albums, featuring only one other rapper, Eminem on the track Renegade, though four of the tracks were produced by Kanye West, giving him his first major industry break.



    The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse was released in 2002, surpassing the original Blueprint and spawning two mega hits, Excuse me miss and Bonnie & Clyde, his first single with girlfriend Beyonce Knowles, as well as the successful radio hit Guns & Roses featuring Lenny Kravitz and the single Hovi Baby.


    Jay-Z's 7th studio album and last before his massive retirement benefit concert at Madison Square Gardens, The Black Album, included a handful of producers from Timbaland to Just Blaze and produced the hit single, What more can I say, Dirt off your shoulder, Change clothes and 99 Problems.



    Though Jay-Z had retired from making new solo albums, he had several other projects in the work including a 2004 mash up with Linkin Park named Collision Course which won them a grammy, as well as production efforts such as the Fort Minor's debut The Rising Tied. Jay-Z was also named president of Def Jam Records and his taking control of Roc-A Fella as well.


    During this time, Jay-Z made several live appearances including his 2005 concert I declare war, a huge production involving artists including Ne-Yo, T.I., Young Jeezy, Akon, Kanye West, Diddy and eventually Nas, who shared the stage with Jay-Z during the performance of Dead presidents and brought closure to one of hip hop's long standing rivalries.



    Jay-Z made his musical comeback with the solo album Kingdom Come in 2006 and then followed it's success in 2007 with American Gangster, modeled after the Ridley Scott film in correlation with Jay-Z's own hard knock life.


    2008 saw more controversy for the infamous hip hop mogul when he was announced as a headliner for the Glastonbury Festival, a traditionally guitar driven music fest. He also announced the upcoming 2009 release of The Blueprint 3, which would be released under Jay-Z's new multi-million dollar deal with Live Nation to start up Roc Nation. The Blueprint 3 gave Jay-Z his eleventh #1 album, surpassing Elvis Presley's Billboard record and making Jay-Z the reigning champ.



    Sing Jay-Z's 2009 hit featuring Alicia Keys Empire State of Mind here on Red Karaoke, or shop for his tracks in the Red Karaoke Store.

    Karaoke Challenge: Piano Man

    This week’s karaoke challenge is a classically fun song to sing along with, almost as if it was written for such a purpose, none other than the brilliant Billy Joel’s theme song Piano Man.


    Piano man, the story of a piano bar and it’s diverse regulars, was Billy Joel’s first major hit and has become his most successful song to date, ranked on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at 421.


    Released as a single from Joel’s first album with Columbia Records, Piano Man’s fictionalized characters including Paul “the real estate novelist” Davy from the US Navy are all based on real people Joel met while working as Bill Martin in a piano lounge, mainly to escape from the legal turmoil he was facing from a bad deal with his first record label and the little success he saw from his first album.



    Though Joel’s initial personal failure may have been mirrored in the failed dreams of the fictional regulars of Joe bartender’s lounge, their story and plea to have Bill help them “forget about life for awhile” helped Joel achieve the breakthrough he needed that started his long and fruitful career.


    Now you get to be the Piano Man and sing us a song tonight. Record your own rendition of Billy Joel’s theme song Piano Man and post a link to it in the forum. Your rendition could be featured in next week’s newsletter and on Red Karaoke’s official facebook page.