Sunday, November 29, 2009
Tramps like us
It's pretty unbelievable that I've been writing this blog for nearly a year and a half and not yet posted anything about karaoke. Karaoke is one of my dearest pastimes; I've done it everywhere from Tokyo and New Orleans to the rural town of Sedalia, MO. Trust me, there's no better way to sample local flavor than to watch locals get drunk and sing. Just last night, I got on stage at Kennedy's Lamp Post Lounge in Cape Canaveral, FL:
When I lived in NYC, rarely a weekend went by that didn't include a late night stop at Sing Sing, Planet Rose, or any of the other dozens of places to do karaoke in Manhattan. Fortunately, many of my friends share my passion for belting out power ballads and watching nonsensical Japanese music videos.
Then I moved to Boston. And lo and behold, whenever I suggested karaoke as an evening activity, I was met with uncomprehending stares. No one knew where to go. No one felt inclined to investigate. Why drink and sing when you can...just drink?
I feel like it's high time I respond to the most common objections raised about karaoke.
1. "I can't sing."
Um, LOTS of people can't sing, including some with record contracts (see Spears, Britney). Singing well is not what karaoke is about. Karaoke is about entertaining yourself and others through the power of pop music. I have seen many "terrible" singers bring down the house.
2. "It's too expensive."
Yes, renting a private room can add up. But lots of places let you sing for free, like the Hong Kong near Faneuil Hall and Sissy K's. And actually, you can MAKE money doing karaoke, as I did the night I won a contest at Sissy K's. Every Thursday night, they give away $100 to not the best singer, but the best performance of the night.
3. "I can sing so why would I sing karaoke?"
Technically, I can sing too, but that doesn't mean I should sing every song I want to. But karaoke allows me to do just that! While I know that Whitney Houston and I have very different ranges and timbres, after a few vodka tonics, I want my "One Moment in Time." For real singers, karaoke isn't about showing off, it's about goofing off and singing completely inappropriate songs.
So there you have it. I'm lucky enough to live within spitting distance of Do Re Mi, which has probably the best song selection I've ever encountered. Worst song selection award goes to Maluken, where I was reduced to singing "The Little Mermaid" for lack of better options.
The title of this post, "Tramps like us," exemplifies another good thing about karaoke -- you get to learn the actual lyrics to songs that you might have been mishearing. I always sort of sing along with "Born to Run," but somehow the "tramps like us" line in the chorus escaped me. Until last night.
However, singing the right words isn't always essential. If you don't believe me, watch the video below. One Korean man's creative rendition of Mariah Carey is another man's comedy goldmine.