I simply do not understand the lure of karaoke. In much the same way that I would be reluctant to visit a restaurant where the majority of the chefs openly admit that they can’t cook particularly well (or, conversely, are able to produce one dish to a high standard, and happily attempt several others with dismal results), or a library full of books written by semi-literate people (the ones who often produce pub menus, perhaps), I just do not see the appeal of listening to people sing badly.
Perhaps it is because I myself cannot sing, as in really truly cannot sing. Years ago, my sister and I were attempting a round of Sing Star (or another game of that ilk), when a girl we were playing against threw down her microphone in a rage and demanded we stop messing around and start playing properly, she wanted to win fairly and squarely… We were both singing to the best of our abilities (I actually remember thinking I was hitting far more notes than expected), I think it must be genetic. In retrospect, I also think we must have been drinking copious quantities of something alcoholic as I cannot imagine how either of us would have been convinced to participate otherwise. (I also imagine that the girl in question was probably a massive karaoke-competition devotee, and we simply weren’t proving to be as enthusiastic as her regular competition). So maybe my hatred for all things karaoke-related stems from the fact that I have no hope of ever being able to hold a tune… No, screw that; neither do half the people who actively and eagerly participate in the hell-on-earth that is a karaoke session.
Occasionally (very occasionally), somebody gets up to the microphone and it becomes apparent that they can actually sing well. The brief hiatus is heavenly, although slightly less celestial if the singer-who-can-actually-sing has chosen to do a rendition of a certain Ms Celine Dion. Some songs will never be pleasing to my ear. Alas, the subsequent singers sound even worse after the short interlude of higher-quality crooning. The introduction of a slightly-improved calibre of singer, also seems to have the effect of increasing the volume of later singers: please take heed LOUDER DOES NOT MEAN BETTER (the same goes for pub bands, just for the record).
Unfortunately for me, I have attended many a karaoke session (often I have been working, sometimes I’ve attended socially, always it’s been under duress), and have collated many a statistic relating to this particularly barbarous pastime. I can state with confidence the following karaoke-specific certainties which are completed unrelated to venue, town, or even country:
1. There will always be a group of shrill late-middle-aged females in attendance. They will all be dressed in attire more suited to women the same age as the men they are are attempting to attract. They will all drink too many white wine spritzers/ malibu and diet cokes/ gin and slimlines. At least one of them will make a fool of herself attempting to seduce the young man who partook in a passable imitation of Elvis/ Ronan/ Robbie.
2. Somebody will always attempt to sing songs by at least two out of those three artistes. Usually badly. This will not deter the aforementioned females.
3. Someone will always murder Celine Dion (not literally; that’s just wishful thinking on my part). Often two separate people will make us suffer through the same Celine song. That’s the same excruciating song, sung twice! Simply shouldn’t be allowed.
4. There will always be that girl who really truly believes she can sing. You know the one; somebody made the terrible mistake of suggesting she had a good voice some time in the dim and distant past. What she lacks in technique, she more than makes up for in volume. It’s not that she can’t hit the notes, it’s just that she hits them in entirely the wrong order.
5. A group of tone-deaf blokes will always embark upon a raucous version of a ‘comedy’ song which will prove to be not remotely funny, or a football-related anthem, or something originally performed by Queen.
6. There will always be somebody who chooses to sing a song I actually like (or LIKED, past tense, as is very likely to become the case). There is no better way to ruin my enjoyment of a tune than to make me endure your embellished karaoke version. I will no longer be able to listen to the original without hearing your added warble at the end of a certain verse, or your mispronunciation of a particular word.
Thanks for that.
7. There will always be one song that everyone joins in on. I always like to imagine that this is much to the chagrin of the person whose name was called to sing. Unfortunately, I feel it is probably more likely that they are imagining that their adoring Wembley audience is singing along in solidarity.
In relation to that last point, I also hate it when an audience joins in at a gig I’ve been looking forward to… If I wanted to listen to lots of drunkards singing along to a Britpop anthem, I’d hotfoot it along to my local karaoke night, and not pay £50 for the privilege! It’s even worse when the frontman/woman EXPECTS the audience to sing and holds the microphone out: how very lazy, arrogant, and downright irritating! Sorry, I’m getting off topic.
I don’t mind a sing-along when it isn’t taken too seriously (and when the volume isn’t cranked up quite so loud as at your average karaoke hell), and I will end with a photo advertising an event that I was exceedingly disappointed to miss. To be fair, the photo probably won’t display properly (see previous post), but I’ll try my best!