We can't wait for the final this Saturday here at Pocket-lint towers. The thrill, the action, the dodgy decisions, bad haircuts and crazy foreign accents. Yep, it's Eurovision Song Contest time again. What? You didn't think we meant the FA Cup Final did you? Then again...
Nope, scratch that, as we like our pop cheesier than a Wotsit in a teenager's sock, we're always as excited as an ABBA tribute act at this time of year, and no match between a Middle Eastern-funded plaything and a grubby team of battlers can hold a candle to the mighty sing-a-thon in Berlin (although, we'd just like to add, quickly, "Come on you Potters!").
So, in preparation for our annual guffaw at a bunch of Europeans croaking out strangely familiar tunes, we've been warbling along to...
Lucky Voice Karaoke
- iPad 2 / iPad
Anybody who's visited a Lucky Voice Karaoke bar will immediately feel at home with the company's new iPad app, 'cause that's its major selling point; it's at home.
Instead of having to get up in front of a bunch of admin assistants and the one accounts guy that nobody remembers inviting, your own dulcet tones can be restricted to the comfort of your own abode thanks to this simple yet ingenious portal to over 8,000 licenced songs. It works just like normal Karaoke - the words light up on screen in time with the music - yet, because it's on an iPad, it can be handed around from singer to singer.
And, as it uses the device's in-built Internet connection to both search for and pluck songs from the cloud, you can pretty much guarantee that there's something for everyone. Certainly, there were very few songs that we couldn't find and immediately sing. They've all been given the Lucky Voice treatment - even featuring backing singers where necessary - and, mercifully, none of them are accompanied by any of the ill-advised videos that are commonly associated with home-based Karaoke units in the past.
The app itself is rather basic, but that's to its credit. Down the left-hand side there's a navigation bar, which initially lists pre-determined playlists. You can also add playlists of your own to the menu, and that's about it.
However, click on a playlist and suddenly all the songs (and artists) that are contained within are spewn forth. Click on one of them and it joins your song queue. Indeed, if you've ever used the touchscreen controls in Lucky Voice private rooms before, you'll find a lot that's instantly familiar.
There's also a search function which will happily offer up results based on the song title or artist you've entered. Even one-word searches are possible - for example, type in "love" and you'll be innundated with suggestions. It's also real time search, so will get more accurate the more words you enter.
Naturally, if you're using the iPad's own speakers, the experience isn't quite as slick or professional as holding a microphone in a bar itself, but it's still great fun none-the-less. And if you've got an iPad 2 and a Digital AV Adapter, you can always plug it into your flatscreen TV via HDMI, giving you a bigger and better video output at least. Not having Apple's optional cable to hand, we're not sure if audio output on the app is supported at present, but as we've been told that a future update will bring about a dedicated TV output mode, we suspect that's something that will only come in the patch. If so, at least it's being worked on.
It would also have been good to have microphone support (to use the internal mic or an external hand-held one such as IK Multimedia's iRig Mic) for vocal amplification from the off. But the developer has revealed that it's adding this at some point soon too, as well as synchronised playlists so that you can turn up to a Lucky Voice Karaoke bar and have your own songs queued for you when you arrive, so we're happy to wait.
The Lucky Voice app is a free download, and once you've signed up you'll have access to 10 free songs. All the other 8,000 plus tracks can be previewed for 30 seconds, but to play the full versions, you need to subscribe to Lucky Voice Home, or buy song credits. Prices range from £3.99 to £49.99, but considering that you're likely to only use the app properly when you've got a bunch of friends around, we don't think that £3.99 is too steep for 24 hours worth of unlimited use - get them all to chip in.
And a side benefit is that subscribers can also access the online version of Lucky Voice Home too, with similar access to all of the same songs through a PC. Excellent stuff.
One last thing, it's worth pointing out that as Lucky Voice is a UK franchise of Karaoke bars, the app is restricted to the UK Apple App Store. Sorry to all those from other nations, you'll have to make do with awarding each other points in the Eurovision Song Contest instead, regardless of performance or quality.
Speaking of which, altogether now, "sing when you're winning!" Or, in the case of Jedward, "whine when you're singing!"