Adventures & Insights

One man's adventures in the physical and intellectual worlds…

Memorable Musical (Mis)Adventures

It’s been a long time since I last picked up a microphone on karaoke night and I must admit, I’m feeling the twitch of withdrawal. As I browse YouTube and sing into my remote control, some of the more exciting hilarious memories of my amateur karaoke career come flooding back. I say amateur not because I can’t sing (that’s a given for most karaoke “stars”); I say it because everyone knows that you’re nothing in the karaoke game until you have a stage name and some form of sequined or bedazzled outfit. Currently, my stage name is still a work in progress…

My introduction to the dizzying world of karaoke was intense. From the first tune I was hooked. Admittedly, I still need a couple of drinks to limber up the vocal chords, but I can still get there. After a whirlwind tour of an entire library though, I hadn’t found my musical masterstroke – that one song that no matter where you go, you can wow the crowd with. They become a gaggle of swooning fans to your Tom Jones or Britney Spears or whoever it is that you become thanks to some simple music and a terribly tacky, copyright dodging video clip.

So began my own quest to identify “The Song”. The one song that I could request with complete confidence to impress the drunken hordes for approximately three and a half minutes that a superstar had graced them with his presence. Along the way I have stumbled and tasted glory in equal measures, but I have not yet found my Grail. Memories remain in my mind, encouraging me through success, failure and all the hilarity in between and reminding me that life is truly something to be taken with a focus on enjoyment. Here are just a few of those moments:

Contender #1: Holiday – Madonna

Naturally, I didn’t choose this myself. In a fantastic lesson of humility, this song was chosen for me. While I was in Japan we had a farewell night out for one of my colleagues and naturally, karaoke was in order. Everyone was hesitant initially so to break the ice I offered to go first. I was asked which song I would like to sing I uttered those fateful words – “I don’t care.”

Given that I know almost nothing about music, I’d have to guess that my singing voice lies in the standard tenor range. Without getting boringly scientific (and wasting far too much time on Google), let me just say that my rendition of Holiday was unimpressive at best. But hey, I tried and it got the party started.

Humiliation Level: High.
Special Requirements: Being a woman would help immensely. Failing that, tighter than tight pants may assist.
Overall Potential: Low.

Contender #2: Heartache Tonight – The Eagles

I sang this one at a work social function that was held at a local Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant. It actually came off fairly well – perhaps a little too well. At the end of the song I received applause and one person in the crowd even shouted out the name “Shannon Noll” as the song wound down. I’m still not sure if it was a compliment or an insult. If you’ve never heard of Shannon Noll (and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised), here’s a taste:

I’d like to think that the comparison was drawn because of the singing talent, however I’m a little more sure it’s because of what starts happening between 2:18 and 2:40 in the above clip. That’s right, I’m pretty sure I worked an air grab and a chest clutch into my performance. *sigh*

Humiliation Level: Low to Moderate, depending on choreography.
Special Requirements: None.
Overall Potential: Moderate to High.

Contender #3: Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

I had the pleasure of working with two professionals once. One a classically trained singer and the other a fully-fledged punk rocker. With my reasonable voice added as support vocals we were an entertainment tour-de-force. As everyone knows though, there were four members of Queen. Had we enlisted any other member apart from “Awesome Dave” we would have blown the audience’s minds. And yet “Awesome Dave” wouldn’t take no for an answer. His hijacking of this performance would have been acceptable on a level if his singing voice even approached the musical quality of a screaming toddler bemoaning the loss of his blankie. It would have even been acceptable if he’d refrained from dancing as though he was being continually tased.

Humiliation Level: Low to none, given that all eyes were on “Awesome Dave”‘s “unique” performance.
Special Requirements: Three co-performers.
Overall Potential: Low.

Other memories encompass performances of Hey Jude – The Beatles (a song sung by a friend of mine – and sung well I might add! The funny thing was that the track looped right at the end and as a result we sang the final “Nah, nah nah nah-nah-nah-nah”s quite a few more times than was necessary. It got to the point where the machine’s power plug was pulled from the wall.) and Best Of You – Foo Fighters (I’m a huge fan of the Foo, so this was a pleasure – to start with. I am AMAZED that Dave Grohl can still talk. By the time I got half way through the song, my tone was off. By three-quarters of the way through, my voice was practically gone. So. Much. Yelling.) and many others along the way.

My journey has been arduous and to this day remains incomplete but I will not give up. I will find my song. Any and all suggestions will be seriously considered and attempted. If you haven’t already had a go, I cannot urge you strongly enough. Maybe it’s just me, but there is something amazingly euphoric about singing in front of people.

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81 responses to “Memorable Musical (Mis)Adventures

  1. Dan Bain August 1, 2011 at 9:44 am

    I made the mistake of doing karaoke to the B-52’s “Love Shack” years and years ago. A friend of mine and I had spent months working on a mocking impression of Fred Schneider, so I gave it a whirl. Too bad I was stuck with a reputation from that moment on, and have been expected to live up to it every time that song comes on — karaoke or not. I’ve now sung it at two weddings, where the DJ just turned down the music every time Fred Schneider sang, so I could sing his part into the mic. It’s unfortunate.

    • Christian Emmett August 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

      It sounds like a very entertaining (and talented if you’re singing it outside karaoke) impression!

      I can see how it would be tiresome though; I suppose I can be thankful that I’m not called upon to perform a particular song time after time.

  2. Bethylicious July 29, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Love this post. Just what I needed at 10 minutes to midnight…right before I go to bed – to be in a giggling fit. Now my husband is surely going to look at me like I have five heads, but I’m used to this sort of thing. He knows how weird I am. I’m very much looking forward to doing some karaoke again and finding MY song. Good luck on your journey!

  3. gaycarboys July 29, 2011 at 3:45 am

    Does shannon noll still sing? I haven’t seen him in an age!

  4. Jason July 29, 2011 at 3:20 am

    My go to song is always “Kiss” by Prince. Singing in the the most beautiful of falsettos, rolling around on the ground and touching yourself, making whiny noises. I recommend you try it.

  5. explodingballoons July 28, 2011 at 1:44 am

    I’ve never ever karaoke-d before, despite having lots of occasions to showcase my talent to the world. 😦 After going through your post, I’m sitting here regretting all the times I could have made a fool of myself and chose not to 😦 Damn these sissy nerves of mine. 😦

    • Christian Emmett July 28, 2011 at 8:11 am

      Don’t regret those times, they’re long gone now. Use the memory as inspiration to pick up that mic next time the opportunity comes along! Good luck and most importantly – just have fun! πŸ™‚

  6. natasiarose July 28, 2011 at 12:29 am

    The last time I did Karaoke I tried to rock out “Kiss” by Prince. Unless you have an awesome falsetto, don’t do it. Humiliation totally ensued. Yay!

    • Christian Emmett July 28, 2011 at 8:06 am

      Well hey, you got up and did it. That counts for a lot in my opinion; I’d have applauded you all the way! Don’t let it keep you away from the mic – that would be the real tragedy!

  7. skippingstones July 27, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Wow – I never realized how lame some music videos used to be until I watched Madonna half dance her way through Holiday! I had to listen to Bohemian Rhapsody all the way through, though because…well, you have to.

    I love, love, love to sing. People don’t love, love, love to hear me sing. *Sigh* What’s a girl to do? I have not tried karaoke because I’m chicken. Oh, and because I can’t carry a tune anymore – used to be able, no longer able. You make me want to sing in public anyway, it’s all just for fun, right? Good luck with the song search!

    • Christian Emmett July 27, 2011 at 9:06 am

      That’s right, it’s all in the name of enjoying life. Do whatever it is that makes you smile and laugh whenever you can, I say, because there will be plenty of times when you won’t get that opportunity.

      Thanks for your support, I’m sure I’ll find a few winners as I go. You should definitely try it yourself – I was chicken too when I started. πŸ™‚

  8. t July 27, 2011 at 3:19 am

    “there is something amazingly euphoric about singing in front of people”. While i have the exact opposite reaction during my short-lived and forced karaoke history, i loved your post – thanks for sharing!

  9. liveloveyourlife July 27, 2011 at 1:19 am

    Gosh, I haven’t karaoked in YEARS!!! I as well used to be a regular!! Thanks for the great laugh! πŸ˜€

  10. eric. July 27, 2011 at 12:31 am

    This is great. I’ve never done karaoke myself but I feel I would strive to find my “go-to” song in a similar way. I’m sorry that you couldn’t nail a four person swing at “Bohemian Rhapsody” though. It would’ve been gold.

    http://drivewayspotted.wordpress.com/

  11. tinkerbelle86 July 27, 2011 at 12:21 am

    such a funny post, thank you for sharing it. hilarious!!

  12. thosewerethedaysphoto July 26, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Love your blog! Though I always wished I could sing, I know I’d better stick to photography. πŸ™‚

  13. matthewhyde July 26, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    I’ve had fewer karaoke experiences than yourself (detailed at http://wp.me/p1tKEc-7y), but I can identify – that said, I’m probably closer to Awesome Dave in terms of talent. Great post, really enjoyed it. Deservedly freshly pressed!

  14. littleguurrl July 26, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I LOVE karaoke! I write about it often in fact. Lame, I know – but it is fun! I have a great list of songs to sing, http://alicia-prague-blog.com/2011/06/06/karaoke-do-list/ and on it you will find thhe link to the very valuable DON’T list. Hoorah for karaoke!

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm

      I checked out your post – and realise I committed a cardinal karaoke sin with Bohemian Rhapsody! πŸ˜‰ Oh well, it’s off the list anyway so I can just chalk it up to first-hand experience I guess.

      Thanks for the extra info, you’ve put together a couple of very useful articles there. Hoorah indeed!

      • littleguurrl July 26, 2011 at 9:48 pm

        thanks! and… just last night i drunkenly preformed The Rhapsody myself. Oh the shaaaaame. πŸ˜‰

  15. thediaryofsugarandspice July 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Now you just need someone to film you gettin down with your bad self on the karaoke stage and we will all be content!! Looking forward to your next post!

  16. creativeconfessions July 26, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I’m not such a huge karaoke singer, but I’ve performed quite a bit in the past, and it’s true that one must always know what they can and cannot do, or – rather – sing. And it’s true, too, that having a certain selection of comfortable songs you know you can do.

    Thanks for sharing, and keep rocking! πŸ™‚

  17. Harold July 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    I agree it is always good to know what you can sing and have some go to’s on your list. I tend to go to Elvis or Barry Manilow. It has been a while since I last sang karaoke. Doing well in front of a crowd…nothing better!
    Nice post, congrats on being FP!

  18. thoughtpantry July 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Oh man, the word “karaoke” is magical to Asian people such as myself. They even pronounce it differently in Hawaii and Japan (Ga-rra-o-gke instead of “kaa-ree-oh-kee”). My top two favorite songs would have to be Celine Dion’s “To Love you More” and Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” but I admit…those notes are nearly impossible to hit! “Kokomo” and anything by Queen are great songs to sing with a group.

  19. nalstradamus July 26, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Bon Jovi – Living on a Prayer…everyone thinks they can sing that one.

    Oasis – Wonderwall….shudder, just having flashbacks of a horrible karaoke night

    Congrats on the freshly pressed!

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      Oh definitely, Living on a Prayer and Wonderwall are ALWAYS being sung – and not always well!

      Thanks for stopping in for a read; hopefully your bad karaoke nights are heavily outnumbered by the good ones!

  20. AwesomeAim July 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I always need an hour to get my nerves down and my vocal cords ready…but “Nobody Knows” by Pink is so far my best song. I may even have overdone it. Sadly, it’s a slow song (like most of the songs I like) and therefore has only sobering effects on any party.

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      I’m generally not the first cab off the rank either, I can certainly appreciate where you’re coming from. Slower songs have their place and can even be a nice break at times.

      Thanks for commenting! πŸ™‚

  21. Facetious Firecracker July 26, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I completely understand the trauma of searching for the perfect song. Sometimes it’s more important to know what NOT to sing. American Pie has to be the most agonizing song to hear via karaoke. Eight minutes of drunken mumbling does not a performance do well. Good luck with your mission.

  22. 48colorrainbow July 26, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Though I don’t get many opportunities to sing karaoke, my go-to artist is Billy Joel, since his songs give me more confidence than songs by other artists do.

  23. hissimplelook July 26, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Thanks for sharing!! Love some karaoke!

  24. I Made You A Mixtape July 26, 2011 at 6:46 am

    I have never attempted to actually get up on stage…but some of the best nights ever I have had were at Farmer’s Market (LA) karaoke nights…some of the performers were fabulous- some were dreadful but all were entertaining. I would go for the Madonna number…sheer pop-tastic choice! A real crowd pleaser…lol.

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 9:40 am

      Probably the biggest thing I love about karaoke is that everyone who gets up there is giving it their all. No matter what their talent is like, I’ll always applaud anyone who has the courage to stand up in front of other people and possibly embarrass themselves.

      I hope you do go for the Madonna number; I’m sure you’d knock ’em dead!

  25. jamieahughes July 26, 2011 at 5:48 am

    I’ve never thought about it as I don’t karaoke much, but now that I have the sage advice in my head, I will be armed should the need ever arise! Thanks for the honest belly laugh on a long Monday. This made my day!

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 9:36 am

      You’re very welcome, I’m glad to be able to help others in their quest for karaoke excellence. At the very least, I’m glad I can make people laugh.

      Thanks for commenting!

  26. GraceLynneFleming July 26, 2011 at 5:43 am

    one good song – the key to Karaoke. yes

    -grace

    http://herumbrella.com

  27. danielledawes July 26, 2011 at 3:52 am

    This is seriously the best post I’ve read in ages. I’m rooting for ya man. I would’ve been clapping like a seal after Holiday, shouting out ‘Shannon Noll’ all the way. You’ve really got me thinking about signature songs now. I’m generally just that karaoke mic hog, it takes a million and one drinks to wreth my hands from that thing. Have you tried any Barnsey? I’m assuming if you know of Shannon Noll you would surely know about the master himself. Good luck nontheless!

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 9:32 am

      Thanks Danielle, I’m glad to have the support! I haven’t tried much Barnsey, or many of the classic Aussie bands yet. There are usually numerous others belting out a rendition of “Khe Sahn” that makes me look for something else in order to mix things up a bit. Next time I’ll just have to be the first to sing!

  28. thebigautographhunt July 26, 2011 at 3:32 am

    In general, the word “karaoke” just means humiliation levels: high
    dumbfun.wordpress.com

  29. Jean July 26, 2011 at 3:19 am

    It’s not karaoke until someone busts out a 90’s boy band song! I’d suggest NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” or the Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life.”

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Oh absolutely, there’s always got to be at least one 90’s boy band tune thrown in to mark a true karaoke night. The two you’ve mentioned are classics; thanks for commenting!

  30. S.A July 26, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Hilarious post! As soon as the words ‘Karaoke’ are uttered at a party I’m already halfway out the door… Not my cup of tea!
    Good luck with finding that song!

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 9:20 am

      Thanks, I’m sure I’ll find a few songs to help me through a karaoke session. Strangely enough, when I first came into contact with karaoke I felt the same way you do – you couldn’t pay me enough money to get up on that stage! Still, it’s not for everyone, that’s for sure.

      Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

  31. Eva McCane July 26, 2011 at 2:45 am

    a couple notes. first, my go-to karaoke is Madonna, Like a Virgin. i shouldn’t even say it’s MY go-to…my friends always find it humorous to choose that song. probably because none of us have been virgins in about 10-15 years. anyway, that Madonna always makes for some good vibes, that eagle hand thing freaks me out a little, and Queen…please. totally rocks. thanks for sharing!
    http://www.icouldntmakethisshitup.wordpress.com

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 9:12 am

      Hahah, sorry about the eagle hand pic, it was the best quality version I could find that wasn’t live. It sounds like you and your friends really know how to rock the mic, that’s always good to see.

      Thanks for commenting, I’ll swing by and check out your blog!

  32. wtfhappenedtomyreallife July 26, 2011 at 2:39 am

    My original go to was Black Velvet and then became Total Eclipse Of The Heart and then it was Building A Mystery or Possession depending upon which Sarah McLachlan songs the KJ had on hand. These days I have progressed more towards Underneath Your Clothes and pretty much any Regina Spektor the KJ happens to have heard of. The point is, there is usually not one that will be your song forever. Show ’em whatcha got on as many songs as you think you get to! And REMEMBER! There is NO SUCKING IN KARAOKE πŸ™‚

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 8:53 am

      You’re absolutely right – there is no sucking in karaoke!

      All those tunes are solid winners! It’s true, I’ll have to build a repertoire with which to impress the masses. Sticking with one song will only cause my karaoke career to stagnate. Thanks for dropping in and reading, I’m glad to be finding more karaoke lovers out there!

  33. educlaytion July 26, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Freshly Pressed! Congrats mate? I am a former karaoke champ, but those days are long gone.

  34. Lakia Gordon July 26, 2011 at 1:59 am

    I would love to work with a classically trained singer πŸ™‚ Enjoyed your post!

  35. william (cat folk artist) July 26, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Excellent story, especially the part of singing karaoke; thanks for sharing it with all of us. I also have no aptitude with music — other than getting worse with time and song.

  36. PCC Advantage July 26, 2011 at 1:32 am

    I would give ANYTHING to see a video of you (or anyone, for that matter…) singing Holiday by Madonna…does that video exist by chance? πŸ˜‰ It would be epic…absolutely epic.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 8:37 am

      Haha, unfortunately at this stage there is no such video starring myself. You never know though, maybe there will be one day!

      Thanks for the congrats and for stopping by. πŸ™‚

  37. Mikalee Byerman July 26, 2011 at 1:27 am

    I feel your pain — or, rather, joy! Karaoke and I have a love-hate relationship…

    And yes, Heartache Tonight … such a classic choice!

    πŸ™‚

    • Christian Emmett July 26, 2011 at 8:35 am

      Thanks Mikalee, I certainly understand the love/hate relationship. I still get nervous every time I get up for the first time but those nerves give way to enjoyment very quickly.

      I hope your relationship with karaoke is more love than hate! πŸ˜‰

  38. girlonthecontrary June 30, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Choosing your go-to karaoke song is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life. But can there really only be one song? I myself, usually choose a classic such as Joy To The World by Three Dog Night. BUT- there are lots of new songs I actually sing better such as Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine. I think we can have many special karaoke songs in our life. Don’t limit yourself.

    Also, the occasion matters because I once sang Landslide by Stevie Nicks at a wedding and though I actually sang quite well, it really brought the mood down. Should have gone with Like a Virgin by Madonna, I think.

    • Christian Emmett June 30, 2011 at 9:33 am

      You’re right, I think having a selection of songs on hand is a key strategy to karaoke success. I’m hoping to get a few numbers together so that any future stints behind the microphone are as enjoyable for the crowd as they are for me. Besides, I don’t want to bore my constant supporters by repeating the same song every time. That takes half of the magic out of Karaoke!

      Landslide’s a great wedding tune; I’m not sure what went wrong there. Like a Virgin might have been a safer option though. πŸ˜‰

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