The Cons of Singing Karaoke
Reproducing a popular song is not an easy task. You have to take care of so many things when you sing the karaoke version of a popular song. Your audience belong to different classes and it will show up in the feedback you get. For most people, it is an excellent performance if the singer has imitated the exact voice of the original singer. As a result, you will see singers struggling to sound like the original singer in many stage shows. It ends up being mimicry but people would applause saying "he sounds like Yesudas" or "his voice is the same as SPB" etc. Here, the singer is satisfied as he gets a round of big applause for trying to copy the exact song in the (almost) exact voice. But he/she fails as an individualistic singer. But for the professional performers who have to sing before the masses, they do not have a second choice as their livelihood depends on the success of the show.
There is another class of audience who does not care whether you imitate the voice of the original singer, but they want to hear the variations and nuances intact. They would be unhappy if you chose to ignore some of the original variations and put some of your own. This class could consist of people who are musically trained or have the technical knowledge of music. It is hard to please this class too.
If you choose to please these two classes of people, you will end up being a ghost or a xerox copy of some popular singer. When you try to imitate a singer or his styles too much, you end up being nothing but a copy. Also remember that even the original singer cannot exactly reproduce what they have sung in the studio. Watch some of their live shows as an example.
My suggestion is that do not bother too much about sounding like the original. Understand the lyrics, stick on to the basic emotion/expression/feel that the lyrics suggest and sing from your own heart. Do not bother too much about the original variations and nuances of a song. Just add your bits to it and sing it from your heart. Make it your version so that singing karaoke tracks would not be a monotonous task.
Just to add that I am not suggesting that you should not pay attention to the original song and it's variations when you sing a karaoke version. Paying attention to those details in the original version would help you a lot in the practice sessions. And you can learn a lot from those popular singers. So keep an ear for that in the practice sessions, but add your inputs when you actually sing/record a karaoke song.
In my early days of music blogging, there were people who told me that "you sound like Yesudas" or "your voice resembles Madhu Balakrishnan" or "you have a voice similar to Venugopal" etc. I think that as soon as people hear a new singer sing, they have a tendency to identify the singer with a popular singer. Or this could be the problem when you sing karaoke songs of a particular singer. Say for example, when Sonu Nigam used to sing Mohd. Rafi songs for a long time, he was seen as a Rafi double, but he failed to make his own mark. People who heard Sonu remembered Rafi. He was also branded as a singer who could do only sad songs. But we all know where he stands now after he got a couple of breaks in the film music industry.
I remember what an online friend of mine, who also happens to be a singer, said in one of your chat sessions about music - about karaoke singing and reality shows etc:
I would always prefer to please option #3 first which itself is a very tough task! :-)
You can only satisfy one or more of the following but not all:1. Classes
3. Your own self
One of those 3 are always unhappy.