Starting the new year off with a bang this year consisted of me and my wife fighting sleep at around 11 p.m. all the while holding our new daughter Jovie awaiting the latest diaper change. We usually do not do anything extravagant for New Year’s Eve anyways, so we were ok with ringing the new year in as we did. The first weekend of the New Year however provided something we weren’t really expecting, but it turned out to be quite a fun evening. In fact, it wasn’t just A-okay, it was Kara-oke’.
In the 37 years of my life, I have only attended less than a handful of karaoke events. Not only that, it was just last year that I myself dove into the “participating” world of the karaoke scene. I must say, this is a world all its own. You have to appreciate a few things when you attend a karaoke event and I would like to lend my take of each of them. Granted my experience has been minimal but I do feel I can provide enough context for you to be prepared for the next opportunity you may have to attend a karaoke event.
1. The venue. Whether its inside or outside, it matters. I have attended a few karaoke events inside a Mexican restaurant that provided a nice temperature-controlled environment. The addition of a waitress bringing us an endless supply of chips and salsa also helps pass the time between acts. As for outdoors, have heaters when its cool and LOTS of fans for when its hot. For obvious reasons of course, but lets face it, you want to be there for a while in order to soak up the participants ability and give yourself conversation fodder for the next day’s water cooler.
2. Observe, but don’t stare. This can almost be a game if allow it be. See who is in attendance, who is sitting alone, with a group of people etc. Once this initial recon is done, you can guess on who will be singing, what they will be singing and of course predict if they be any good. Granted, this might be like an episode of Seinfeld, but there are all kinds of different observations to make. For instance, the guy with the strong beard exuding confidence as he drinks a long-neck, easy – Chris Stapleton’s, Tennessee Whiskey. The middle aged woman with the bob cut, not so easy but predictable, probably a safe bet to guess Shania Twain- I feel like a Woman or perhaps Alone, as performed by Heart. There’s the guy who’s sporting a Carhart jacket and is about 7 deep in the Bud light column that comes up and kills a Tim McGraw song and then there’s the “Oh so mysterious” lone wolf character. He or She has been sitting in the back of the room, waiting…observing. Watching the other participants shred the popular songs that are out on the market right now, waiting for the proper time to step forward and throw their hat in the ring. I’ve personally observed this several times. These guys are like snipers, you think they’re there just for the Coca-Cola or the chips and salsa but end up getting up there and displaying their skills with a Bryant Adams song or Maroon Five sonnet. Again, observe and take notes here…but do not stare.
3. Come with friends. Seriously, these things really are fun and yes you can make fun of people, but with friends there are other added levels of enjoyment. You can dare the others to actually participate, you can work a duet bet out or you can just support the one person or few who choose to perform. I can speak to this personally, and as I can tell you doing this with my friends is totally fun. I find that I enjoy attempting to embarrass my friends as much as possible with just the right amount of crowd involvement is my go to. For instance, I recently performed “Escape – The Pina Colada” song and before even beginning the song I was asking the audience to help me and blatantly pointing to not only my group of friends but my wife (who ducked down in the corner). To my friends that have been there for me when I have ‘performed’ I thank you.
4. Be prepared. If you are going to attend a Karaoke event, you need to have your mind made up. If you are participating, at least (for the sake of those listening) know the jest of the song you are going to attempt to sing. There was a 60 plus year-old gentlemen who walks up the mic, gives the nod to the DJ to start up the song, and it’s “Barbie Girl” by Aqua. I am not sure WHY this guy chose this song, but it was as you can imagine. Terrible. He literally had never heard this song before and it showed. In the end…well, we stared. Additionally, you need to be prepared to experience the good, bad and the ugly in terms of performances. You will have some professional karaoke people who are genuinely good. You’ll have some performers who are genuinely bad, but they have the guts to get up there and live their dream of being an American Idol contestant, so I salute them. The ‘ugly’ come in a couple forms. I classify one ‘ugly’ as the duet who usually has one person who wants to participate, and they’ve talked their friend into coming up on stage with them, but they are so timid they turn their backs to the audience (because if they cant see the audience, the audience can’t see them) and it’s just…ugly. The second type of ugly comes in a form of bad song choice, timing and having zero singing ability. I respect them for getting up there…but again, it’s just ugly.
5. Just go to one. Seriously, you should go. I would also encourage you to take a leap and participate, but no pressure. Consider it one of those New Year’s Challenges to do something that scares you, or actually put that quote you posted on Facebook, the one that says something like “You are as strong as the wind” or “Today, I chose to do something that scares me” or something to that effect to good use. Here’s an idea, just have some fun and attend the next karaoke event you come across. You may just enjoy yourself…perhaps even sing a song.
I have come to really enjoy karaoke. Especially now that I know I can embarrass my wife with my choice of song or performance style. It’s always a good time enjoying doing something out of the norm. Not only that, you can cut loose and simply enjoy yourself and I will always encourage you to do that. So, I hope after reading this, you can either relate to something I have shed light on or have you intrigued enough to attend the next event. In the meantime, turn your radio up, sing loud and dance like no one is watching, because when you’re on stage and have your back to the crowd, they can’t see you…