One of my favorite pastimes, singing karaoke, has of course exploded in the last few months. I recall a time last summer when I was thinking to myself how it had been like three or four months since we’d done karaoke. And now it’s literally every week now that my good friend Bart has started his own business specializing in karaoke leagues at area bars. To give you some idea of how often I go out and do karaoke, it’s only March 1 and I’ve already performed 44 songs in public in 2013. That’s pretty close to one per day. I know many people who have never done one song, ever!
But my singing is not just an Austin thing. Everyone can attest that I was a regular Joe Karaoke back in Minneapolis, and Madison before that. And most of the time, most of my friends are equally as into it as I am. I have never been in the crowd of friends who all possessed athletic prowess, or extreme intellect, but dammit we can all sing. Only a very scattered few friends from past and present have been too afraid to grab the mic even just once.
In a quick scan of my own photo archives I was able to find photos of all of these people singing karaoke.
My all-time best performance occurred just recently in 2013 when I performed “Rock Me Amadeus”, the German version, at the Common Interest Karaoke League. I’ve done that song a few times in the past and never received much of an applause, but this time I was feeding off the energy of the crowd and really belted it. I don’t know German, but I’ve heard the song enough times that I’ve memorized the sound of the words and faked my way through it. According to one of the many who gave me a rousing standing ovation, I was singing a German song in a French accent.
And now, my list of the most moving karaoke performances from my friends that I have witnessed.
Funniest: Patrick Lynch sings “Yoda” by Weird Al at U Otter Stop Inn, 2007. Patrick’s performance of the “Lola” parody ranks high because of the sheer joy it brought to the crowd that night. If the point of singing karaoke is entertainment, then few have been more entertaining. Patrick obviously had never heard the song in his life, didn’t even know what the melody was going to be, and a few times actually sang the word Yoda instead of spelling it out Y-O-D-A as the lyrics instruct. But that, I think, is the true spirit of the whole thing, getting up and not caring if you make a fool of yourself.
Best Performance: Brian Mego sings “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra at RC Fowlers, 2013. When I signed up for the recent karaoke league at RC Fowlers, Brian joined too, not because he was a great fan of karaoke but because he wanted to hang out with me more often. But then he went up onstage in the first week and performed perhaps the best combination of vocals, crowd involvement, and dancing I’ve witnessed. He is a trained musician, but I was blown away. Blown! Our team went from fringe contenders to instant favorites.
Most Important: Ryan Bart sings “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis at The Water Tank, 2012. I pressured Bart into doing a song at karaoke, against his will, and he wound up doing a pretty solid job. Well, one thing led to another and we began going to The Water Tank a lot more frequently. Eventually, we started renting out the private room at Common Interest so we didn’t have to wait in line to sing. And then Bart started an entire new business that specializes in running karaoke leagues at area bars, and so far it has been a rousing success—I know, because I participated in two of them! Never before have I seen a single karaoke performance lead to such a life-changing event!
Some other memorable performances…
– Jason LaPlant sings “99 Problems” by Jay-Z at Lon’s Cocktail, 2005.
– Brad Kinkelman sings “Help Me Rhonda” by The Beach Boys at Kilrad, 2006.
– Lauren Poulter & Sarah Domenichetti sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler at The Sportsman’s, 2008.
– Liz, Patrick, and Steve perform a crude rendition of “Ain’t Goin’ Down” by Garth Brooks at some random MN small-town bar en route to Carpenter Bash in 2006 to a crowd of local hicks who were not amused, then awkwardly exited.