Friday, September 28, 2007

Why karaoke is for suckers

You know it's bad when your singing partner gives you helpful advice during instrumental breaks.

"Try being a little more...forceful," she suggested.

Wait, you mean you don't like this high-pitched quavering? This noise like someone whining into a tin can, this noise refracting back at me through too many speakers, this noise that I know is coming from me, but dear lord, really? Is that really what I sound like??? So this're saying I should not do that?

I only agreed to this performance, on a weeknight, no less, and having consumed not nearly enough beer, because I figured there was no way it could be as bad as the first time. I lost my karaoke virginity a few months ago, and it was nearly as traumatic as the real thing, only with more people watching. (Wait, did that come out wrong?)

And oh, Internet, you will not believe me when I tell you the song I chose to lose my karaoke virginity to. I will tell you, and you will still not believe me, because honestly, who would do that? And who would let someone do that, and more importantly, who would agree to sing it with me? I could try to explain my reasoning to you, but...well, I'll just tell you. It was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. You know, Dick van Dyke, flying car, adorably shrill British moppets? I saw it in the book, got all excited and nostalgic, and kind of naively assumed that the audience would be with me. I did hesitate, just for a second, and texted my sister, who gave me the go-ahead. (That bitch). YES, DO IT, she said. My roommate, for reasons unknown, (though what a sport), agreed to sing it with me. How hard could it be? I thought. The lyrics are mostly just "chitty chitty bang bang," over and over. Plus I watched that movie so many times in my childhood I was sure the song was lying dormant somewhere in my subconscious.

I'm sure you can probably imagine what happened, though I don't know if you can appreciate the full horror of the situation if you weren't there. The song is ridiculously fast, ridiculously high-pitched and well, let's face it, just plain ridiculous. In the grand karaoke tradition of taking a bad song and making it much, much worse, we flubbed it like no song has ever been flubbed before. Our audience was restless bordering on hostile. It was one of those moments where you wish you could sink through the floor. Even my roommate, the karaoke veteran and eternal optimist, admitted the sheer stinkitude of our performance. "Yeah, that was bad," she said. "That was really...bad."

A little while later, I had managed to shake it off, for the most part. It's dive bar karaoke, I thought. People don't even remember you five minutes later.

Coming back from the bar with a cold glass of liquid therapy, I locked eyes with a guy walking past me. "So, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," he said. I smiled, thinking this would be followed by an admission of how he used to watch that movie as a kid, or admiration of my non-conforming song choice, or at the very least, a "Nice try". But instead, what he said was, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang...Really?" I don't know if italics alone can adequately express the sheer disdain and vitriol all contained in this one word, in this one sneered word, Really? He kept walking. I swore I would never do karaoke again.

Which is why, really, Wednesday night's performance should never have happened. I have no excuse. I just...forgot? I have never felt the desire to get a tattoo, but I'm thinking if there was one thing I should have indelibly inked on my body, it would be the word karaoke with a circle and a line through it.

My excuse this time was...well, I don't know if there is any legitimate excuse for it. But I was so excited at the prospect of singing one of my favorite songs ever, a song that I know backwards and forwards, inside and out, and have drunkenly belted out on more than one occasion. Whatever the reason, I once again found myself in front of a video monitor, microphone in hand, and that godawful noise in my ears.

I've already blocked most of the details of the performance from my memory. However, after it was (finally) over, two indie guys complimented my roommate on her performance. "Great job on the Pulp!" they said. Hello, I'm right here too, my inner monologue said snarkily. As if she had heard, my roommate tried to introduce me, "Oh, thanks! This is my roommate...," but indie guys kept talking excitedly to her without even looking in my direction. My inner monologue also felt the need to point out the irony of the situation, what with me being single and my roommate being capital T Taken. That's strike two for you, karaoke.

You would think that by now I would be done with karaoke forever, or at least until such a time as I develop a sexy, throaty cold, à la Phoebe in Friends. But instead I find myself already combing through my iTunes collection, searching for the perfect karaoke song, the one that will help me redeem myself. I don't know why I feel the need to put myself through it again, when it makes me feel like shit and is obviously some kind of guy repellant, like I need any more help with that. But it's almost like a challenge. It's like karaoke is taunting me, and I have one more chance for redemption. Karaoke thinks it has me beat, but you just wait.

I will kick karaoke's ass.


  1. Karaoke. Ahh Karaoke. I am a karaoke whore, which is the opposite of a karaoke virgin. Ive done a lotta karaoke. There was even an unmentionable time when (gasp) i attended karaoke alone when I had nothing better to do (and that doesn't mean no other possible plans or invitations). I remain, even post-sopranos, dedicated to Dont Stop Believin'. Keep it up, tho, its the endorphin rush that brings you back.

  2. Awwwww, I would totally rock with you in the DC metro area if you want to sing Pulp again. "And then danced and drank and screwed, cuz there's nothing else to do"