Formal Public Retraction

Back in May on one of NYLPM’s sister blogs I was very sniffy about karaoke videogame Singstar. I would like to take this opportunity, having played Singstar, to say that I was TOTALLY WRONG.

Oddly enough, I was also completely right. My objection to Singstar was that it would strip away the amateurish showboating that characterises British karaoke nights, leaving singers aspiring to bland note-perfect recreations of the hits. And indeed Singstar is entirely ruthless when it comes to singing fannydangle: no melisma, no ‘moody’ spoken bits, you’re not even allowed to attempt the raps when the songs have them! The game awards points entirely on rhythm and pitch – but it seems to be relational pitch, i.e. as long as you get the intervals you’re singing ‘on’ the actual notes matter less. It’s possible to cheat a little and sing quietly, blurring the words – this confuses the game into marking you up a bit, at easy level at least.

What makes it work is that it’s just forgiving enough to give some points to even the worst singer (and I should know). So while a bad performance is embarrassing, it’s not humiliating. And the real genius of the game is the balance between fun and points. If you score the points it’s exciting because Singstar is still a game and it’s nice to win. But it’s more fun when you DON’T score the points, because then playback mode is more entertaining. Playback mode is where Singstar really earns its keep: the real actual video for a pop hit, with a pop star singing the words, but your voice coming out! Absolutely simple and hilariously effective. You can combine Singstar with the EyeToy camera for even greater laughter.

So in summary: I was a fool. Singstar is – for a few weeks anyway – the most fun you can have in your living room. Go and buy it.