OPINION: When I was ten years old, I asked my parents to get me a karaoke machine for Christmas. I loved it, but I wouldn’t recommend you get one for your kid.
Of course, I didn’t ask for just any karaoke machine. I needed the official X Factor karaoke machine – because how am I expected to learn to sing without a Simon Cowell-approved microphone and speaker?
The karaoke machine was a large red and black thing that took up a large amount of space atop my shelf. I can’t find the exact model online (so think a bit less flashy and a bit more 2005 than the one pictured above) but I would say that a Google Image search brings up more X Factor-branded karaoke machines than could ever be necessary.
As a karaoke machine, the X Factor one was pretty terrible.
It looked obnoxious in my room and it only worked with specific karaoke albums which, of course, I couldn’t find in shops so I ended up singing the same songs every time I powered it up. I can still recall all of the lyrics to All Rise by Blue and Life Is A Rollercoaster haunts my dreams to this day.
There were a couple of upsides to the karaoke machine – for one, it doubled as a DVD player so I was finally able to upgrade from my small boxy TV’s built-in video slot.
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The microphone was also incredibly loud.
After giving up on my short-lived singing career, I turned to radio presenting as my new hobby. I balanced the karaoke machine on my windowsill, opened the window as wide as it would go and cranked up the volume. Then, I used the microphone to narrate my own radio show for everyone on my street to hear.
My neighbours never called in to my show – although I guess it would be difficult to hear them over the sound of my own voice – so I can’t say for sure whether they actually heard me talking to myself through the mic, but my family definitely did and I can only imagine the regret they felt knowing they’d dropped £50-100 on this machine.
Thankfully, there are now karaoke services like Roxi that offer more than three tracks (closer to 90,000, actually) and are a fraction less gimmicky than the X Factor machine that caught my eye in the 2005 Argos catalogue so, if you’re not put off by the thought of giving your child a microphone, that’s probably your best shout.