Tuesday, May 10, 2011

You're Semi-Good-Looking

So, karaoke. I love karaoke. I can trace this directly back to my history as a frustrated performer. I'm not gifted in any particular way, but I do think I could have been if I had cultivated something at an early age. I'm wicked shy, but I've never had a problem getting up in front of people and acting or singing or doing a choreographed routine. Public speaking is another thing entirely. The point is, there's always been a part of me that never stopped craving the spotlight. I often wonder why I didn't  join drama in high school. It's not like I was too busy fending off my many suitors. Sometimes I think that if I had chosen to focus on that or dance or on music early in life and stuck with it, I could have had a shot at, well, something. But I didn't and here we are. I think there are a lot of people like me, which is why Rock Band was invented. And blogs too. You want someone to hear your voice? Well you got it, Missy. It's all the same pretend fantasy thing. Today I want to focus on one of the earliest and most popular sublimated superstars' outlets: karaoke.

For someone who engages in that madness less than once a year, I sure am opinionated about it. But it's a community activity, so there are lots of ways to affect other peoples' good times, and I think it's only polite to abide by some rules. Such as:

-Don't let irony guide your choices. If you pick something cheesy, embrace it. I guess, like most people, I'm offended by hipsters and their penchant for ironic karaoke selections is another way they've ruined things for everyone like cardigans and facial hair. I didn't mean for this to be a ubiquitous anti-hipster rant. Just know for quality karaoke purposes it's safest to go to a place frequented by people out of their 20s.

-Don't pick a song over four minutes long, or with prominent instrumental solos. Few people are entertaining enough to fill that space with their dancing or charisma. Respect your audience. I've always wanted to perform Journey's "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" which is a very short song, but it's got an interminable "Na na na na na na" chorus that just takes it out of the running.

-Don't be a show-off. We get that you have a very good voice. But you're boring with your note-for-note recreations. Back away from the Celine Dion, Mrs. Pipes, save that for people who are truly terrible and have fun with something else. It's OK to make mistakes. Having fun is the whole point, and striving for perfection is no fun. That's why I never, ever do it in any aspect of my life.

-Don't be afraid to rock out. I worked solely from a female artist catalog for awhile, but Carole King and Lulu didn't let me get outside of myself. Then I discovered a way to showcase my enduring love of hair metal. Def Leppard was made for karaoke - I'm thinking "Bringing on the Heartbreak" or "Photograph" - songs that really challenge your voice and make you fuck up. The audience will love you for it and sing along enthusiastically. Ratt I'm pretty sure never actually existed and hence lends itself perfectly. And Van Halen - get out of here with that Sammy Hagar, I'm talking about Van Halen with one of the world's greatest frontmen, Mr. David Lee Roth Ph. D. Esquire. There are instrumental solos in many of their songs, but they're short enough to endure.

My favorite karaoke performance to date revolves around the inspired choice of Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" which is poetically gritty and allows for a lot of swagger. I sang this one night in a bar in Providence after a Ween show, when we were hanging out with members of Ween. So I guess I could have sung anything and I would have felt like a rock star, but I'm pretty sure the song made the night all me more magical.

OK, now that you've got that handy dandy guide to awesome karaoke, what's your song?

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