A couple of years ago, my childhood friend and I perfected the art of private-to-public karaoke. We found a room, sang every ’90s pop anthem in the wrong octave, and then, when the rest of our party left sore-throated for bed, we re-debuted our best numbers in the main room to sparse applause and a lot of soju.
Who doesn’t want to be a pop star with the convenience of also being a regular schlub? It’s in part why I am the unofficial brand ambassador for the Tzumi PopSolo Karaoke Microphone, available in black or rose gold, a.k.a. the color of fame. A friend showed me the mic after her roommate discovered it — like all good things — in a Marshalls. I’ve sadly done hours of research on the latest karaoke-machine technology, and this is for sure the simplest way to re-create everything a private karaoke room has to offer minus the $300 bar tab. Just bring your own tambourine.
Abstractly, the PopSolo is the way through which you vocalize your inner truth. Concretely, it’s both a Bluetooth microphone and wireless speaker. On top is a not-yet-patented retractable holder for your phone; from there, via Bluetooth connection, the YouTube lyrics of your choice appear before you like a handheld music stand. And then it’s just like you’re in a room in K-Town or the Lower East Side: too little control over too much reverb, that inexorable joy of being made louder.
I’ve never had an issue connecting it across my devices, and when you’re successful, an emcee from deep within the mic shouts, “Bluetooth, paired!” It’s the perfect size to fit in the water-bottle holder of your bike on your way to a potentially boring dinner party. And the battery can last five hours, which, even for me, is an extensive session. Easily charge it through micro USB as you steam your chords.
I gift this mic for my friends’ weddings in addition to their registries. One recipient called it “sacred.” The Marshalls-roommate uses it to process her crippling Jason Derulo addiction. One other said, “It’s really more akin to singing inside the trunk of a Ford Taurus than a large music hall.”
But I think that’s exactly the charm. You’re not recording; you’re reckoning. Part of karaoke is accepting imperfection in order to accept yourself. This microphone allows you to do so from your couch. By the pool. I’ve watched friends who feign karaoke-phobia sing (and dance!) to Amy Winehouse thanks to the PopSolo.
It’s surprisingly hardy, too — once, the birthday girl spilled frosting all over the mouthpiece, which we were able to easily detach and clean, before we kept on singing.
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