I used to be able to sing pretty well. I was actually in the Cincinnati Boys Choir for a few years and aside from not knowing how to sing individual notes, I think I did ok. Then I turned 14. I was ok with it and just changed my singing pitch but several years later, shortly after I realized that singing Love Shack on a karaoke machine was a lotta fun, my voice abruptly changed again. Since that “second puberty” (which was actually me developing a hereditary throat disorder) I’ve been kinda reserved with my singing. I can’t sing high or low now and my middleground tone is all screwed up and it only takes a few songs before my throat is aching.
Katy loves to sing, though, and has spent many years performing on anonymous karaoke site The Sims on Stage, which led us to pick up both SingStar on PlayStation 3 and Lips on Xbox 360. I still enjoy singing but it’s a lot harder on my throat and most of the songs are 100% un-fun to sing since I’m old and don’t even like how they sound. But Lips has that awesome feature that lets you import any song you can stick on the Xbox, a flash drive, or an MP3 player. It’s just a couple steps shy of being perfect.
As it is now, any song you import simply scores you for generating sound into the microphone. You can sing along if you know the words (because none are displayed on the screen) or you can grind the microphone across the fabric of your sofa and still hit a few hundred thousand points. Trying to license every song ever recorded, secure rights to the video (or produce a new one) and package it all up in an HD download is probably beyond even Microsoft’s capacity. So what I’d like to propose is the Lips Lyrics Shop.
Instead of charging a few bucks for master recordings and HD videos like the current Lips Store, the Lyrics Shop would sell lyric sheets that synch up with the MP3s you’ve already got. Lips already has several random background animations so there’s no need to worry about official videos; you’d be buying a tiny text file with the lyrics and a timing sheet that you could adjust in-game in case you have an Mp3 of a rare B Side or live recording. No one would get too fussy if it was a little out of synch because each download would cost a dollar or less.
Microsoft would benefit too, able to brag that they have more songs than SingStar ever could and they shouldn’t have to worry about bandwidth since each download would only be a few hundred kilobytes in size. There are a million and one lyrics websites out there and they could either license the content that already exists or hire a few dozen people to whip up lyric sheets of their own. I don’t know what kind of royalties need to be paid to record labels but they could easily take a cut of the profits. Make it fast to download and simple to search for songs and a single karaoke party could easily rack up thirty dollars. I know even I’d turn the game on more often if I could follow along with some of my favorite songs. Just cause I love ’em doesn’t mean I know the words all that well.
So Microsoft, please steal this idea.