Popping the karaoke cherry

OK, maybe not. I do suffer from delusions of grandeur from time to time.

About a year and a half ago, I confessed my desire to do karaoke in the pages of this blog.  It had been one of those things that I had always wanted to do, but just had never gotten around to doing.  Well, last night, the perfect opportunity presented itself at my cousin Jeremy’s wedding.  A part of me was kind of puzzled about how in the world they would work karaoke into a wedding reception, but I shouldn’t have really worried about that because wedding guests continued to dance to people’s off-key renditions of well known (and not so well known) songs.  In the end, it was a stroke of a genius and I can’t believe I had never been to a wedding that didn’t include karaoke before.  It was a great way to include the guests in the song selection while still allowing them to have a good time.

I’ll admit that part of my apprehension around doing karaoke was being afraid I would suck at it.  Well, let me tell you, I learned very well after last night that how good of a singer you are is really beside the point.  Some people sang well – one girl that sang Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” really needs to record it and put in on YouTube – and others were God awful.  My uncle George (father of the groom) did a rendition of “Mustang Sally” which, as one of my cousins put it, was off the chain.  There was the requisite performance of “Call Me Maybe” by a group of girls under the age of nine and a very drunken performance of “Friends In Low Places” by one of the groomsmen.  And rather inexplicably, Jeremy started things off with “The Little Drummer Boy” which I think is an inside joke I am not in on.

Anyway, since Heidi is in California at RWA, I was there with Anna.  My brother Ryan was there with his wife Olenka, as was my sister Wendy and her husband Andrew.  I told Andrew that one of my karaoke dreams was to get two other guys to go sing the Wilson Phillips song of my choice and, to my surprise, they were totally on board.  Once the karaoke started, we went and looked at the book and imagine my surprise when the list of songs went from Willie Nelson to Wilson Pickett.  WHAT?  I was outraged, but figured that there was sure to be something in there that we could sing.  Wilson Phillips must not have been listed in that book because the bride and her bridesmaids ended up doing “Hold On.”  It was their party so they can sing Wilson Phillips if they want to.

In the meantime, my daughter had found something that she wanted to sing, but she was unwilling to do it alone.  She practically begged me to do it with her.  The song in question?  Kylie Minogue’s “I Should Be So Lucky.”

We’ve only been singing that song since she was old enough to recognize it.  I still remember Anna sitting in her car seat singing the “lucky lucky lucky” part at probably age three.  We really didn’t care that most of the people in the audience didn’t know it.  I mean, it’s not “The Locomotion” or “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” which, to American audiences, are the only two songs Kylie has ever done.  But we killed it.  Andrew took video of it which I haven’t seen in full yet and do not possess, but I’m so glad he recorded it for posterity.

But that experience taught me that karaoke is much like Pringles – once you start, you can’t stop.  Ryan and I were not to be dissuaded from trying our hand at this karaoke thing together.  We hemmed and hawed and almost tried Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” but ultimately, we settled on Spandau Ballet’s 80s hit “True.”

It’s a song that I’ve been singing along to for years and know all the ad libs by heart.  It is also almost entirely within my range so it was perfect.  The funny part was that even after all these years, I found that I still didn’t know all the lyrics.  I found myself thinking “really?  Those are the lyrics?” especially “take your seaside arms and write the next line.”  Wow.  Had no idea.

Once again, Andrew took video of it and Wendy mimed the sax solo and the whole bit.  It was truly a family affair.  The whole thing led Olenka to declare Ryan and me the best boy band ever.  What an amazing compliment, especially because I am really not much of a boy any longer at my advanced age.

What lessons did I learn from all this singing?  Well, as I alluded to earlier, it really doesn’t matter how good of a singer you are, because you’re guaranteed to be preceded or followed by someone worse.  It helps to be plied a little bit with liquid courage, but not too much because then you don’t have a prayer of hitting the notes.  It is also helpful to have a cheering section, and surrounded by so much family, it was pretty much guaranteed that we wouldn’t be booed off the stage.  But perhaps the most important bit of advice is pick a song you know well.  You don’t want to get up there and realize you only sort of know the song.  The songs we chose were no brainers.  The only way it could have been easier is if we’d have chosen a Madonna song.

Doing karaoke at a family wedding was kind of like a gateway drug.  Now that I’ve started, I want to do it again.  And again.  And again.  It was so fun and liberating.  And who knows, maybe someday I’ll be as good as the groomsman that sang this song.

He even nailed the rap (which is, sadly, not in this video.)  But talk about balls of steel.  NOT an easy song to sing at all.

So who’s with me?

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5 Responses to Popping the karaoke cherry

  1. The first song I ever karaoked to was Depeche Mode’s “Policy Of Truth.” A little dark for karaoke. Now my choon of choice is Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” though you’re spot-on about the liquid courage part. I can’t imagine even attempting “True,” so kudos to you!

    • Dan says:

      I can’t say we were fantastic or anything, but I think we were more than passable. I have seen the video now and it will never see the light of day, but it was a fun time nonetheless.

  2. Elliot says:

    I have a friend who always likes to sing “Puff the magic dragon” quite badly, but I don’t think he cares about that. Odd choices are often the best ones.

    • Dan says:

      I’m totally singing “Puff” the next time around. Talk about a song I know inside and out. Had the Peter, Paul & Mary 45 when I was a kid.

  3. Pingback: Therapeutic karaoke | This Man's World

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