Monday, May 4, 2009

Karaoke is fun, not an audition, you twat.

As of late, I have been pretty hard pressed to find a good place in NYC to sing the Doobie Brothers in front of a crowd of strangers. Even harder than that is finding the right kind of karaoke crowd. I seem to keep only finding self-important crowds of idiots who talk over everyone singing or self important idiots who are apparently trying to land a manager who they think might be present in the crowd.

I have pretty strong opinions about karaoke which have evolved over the years. I have spoken out against large groups of office co-workers marauding the stage to sloppily sing "Love Shack" in a team effort to suck. Grow a pair. If you can't sing alone, don't bother.

I also get the douche chills every time I hear "Sweet Caroline" and "Son of a Preacher Man". Yes, I know those are crowd pleasers, but do you think we can come up with one of the thousands of other songs that every American knows by heart? It would be refreshing to hear the "Star Spangled Banner" at this point.

I am someone who frets over the perfect song to sing. Karaoke is for the people.

To me it's about surveying the crowd and then choosing a song that gets the whole bar to tune in and sing along. Isn't that what it's about? When you combine the perfect elements of being able to hit one or two right notes at the right moment, boldly sing the chorus that everyone knows, and ham it up with a few high kicks, all is right in the karaoke world.

Even better is a karaoke performer who encourages participation and picks a dramatic song in which we can all act like idiots and dance interpretively to.

I am a fan of standing on a chair or stool and singing Space Oddity. (seriously, could one of you f-in' karaoke joints pony up already and get a fog machine?) I stand there like a stoic idiot pretending I am waiting to be beamed up by the mothership while people realize they know and love this Bowie song. I swear to you, I can usually get a semi-circle formed around me and a countdown going in unison. "Take your protein pills and put your helmet on!"

It's karaoke utopia.

Everyone feels like they get more than their one song to participate in. It's a crowd pleaser. I'm happy, the crowd is happy, and there you have it folks--- karaoke fun.

Here is a photo of karaoke with all of the correct elements:
Note the presence of a stage, spotlight, teleprompter at foot of stage, and appropriate amount of enthusiasm even though I am murdering "Magic Man" by Heart.

Piano's on the Lower East Side was my first NYC karaoke extravaganza I attended and boy was it fun. The host had a full set of gold teeth, a defunct America's Next Top Model was always present with tons of gender bending hipsters, an occasional drag queen and of course me. Every person brought down the house, random strangers would grab you and make out,and of course we danced like fools.

Everything went downhill from there though.

I didn't know that above mentioned kind of karaoke was a-typical for NYC and so I stupidly agreed to join some people for karaoke in Midtown at a Sake Bar. Big mistake. This uber lame,swanky bar literally had the teleprompters on the tv screens above and behind the bar and you had to stand at the edge of the service bar to sing while people and cocktail servers elbowed around you trying to order drinks. Some people would just stay in their bar seats and sing to the rows of liquor. Way to phone it in, assholes. LAME!

Then there is the NYC phenomenon of renting a private room for just you and your friends! Yuck! Where's the fun in that bullshit safety net? Why not just stay home and sing into the mirror with a brush microphone? No risk, no reward. And, AND you have to turn your back to everyone to see the words as you sing and stand eye level with your friends who've already been ignoring you all night. Ugh.

Here is an example of me overwhelmed with disgust at the big screen tv teleprompter:
Note that back is turned to "crowd" (uh, friends who know all of your tricks)and more often than not, the bizarre,nonsensical music video that accompanies the song steals your thunder.

But even worse than all of this crap-ola is when you go to a kind of divey place with karaoke, you think to yourself you may have struck gold only to find out you are at an American Idol audition. Only in NYC can you accidentally stumble into a nightmare like this.

This is a night for failed rock stars, musical theatre drop-outs, and has been R&B singers to try and reclaim something that the world unfairly took away, or,this is how they make everyone in the room feel.

They sing their goddamn hearts out with tunes only they know the words too. They hold the microphone chord and tap it against their thigh, bend and sway with eyes closed and showboat like a jerk for 5 minutes. If you try to sing along they shoot a look at you that says, "Don't ruin this for me." I actually see people step outside to warm up their vocal chords and the air hangs thick in the bar the way it does in the waiting room for an audition. It's no longer about karaoke, it's about them. Booooooooooring.

Get a blog already and stop hogging the stage.