Karaoke

Last night I enjoyed a new experience and, well, it led to some rather unexpected results. I visited a karaoke bar!
Okay, go ahead, label me deprived or something. The fact is, it’s been more than a few years since I stopped hanging out in bars for the sake of just hanging out. The activity just doesn’t hold a whole lot of appeal for me. Sure, I did my share of it back in the day but I’ve usually got way better things to do with my time. So almost every time I find myself in that environment I learn something. And karaoke… I guess it’s a trend that just passed me by.
Here’s my basic interpretation of how it works. The establishment primes its customers with alcohol while playing loud music. I think it has to be loud so that everyone needs to shout to converse. It gets the voice primed. The alcohol serves as lubricant. Then they open the mike. The operator (or MC, I guess – what do you call the guy who guides the show?) sets up the songs and works the equipment. He seemed to have the ability to mix the song’s actual vocals back in so that more reserved participants would have a little help. Lyrics are displayed on strategically placed video monitors. Available songs could be chosen from a large binder – a couple of them, actually – that could be found on the bar. The night progressed and the lubricity rose, with mostly predictable results. A couple of people were actually pretty good. Most were not, but all were entertaining to one degree or another.
Before you ask, no, I didn’t take the mike at any point, which was probably a good thing for the other patrons. I must confess, though, before the night was over I did peruse the binder of songs. The lubrication, in the form of a few Coronas, was working as expected. Had I found some Zappa I might have given it a whirl. And that leads right into the unexpected results I mentioned earlier.
Time and time again I was surprised – astounded, actually – by song lyrics. Everything I knew was wrong! Top-40, metal, didn’t matter. Stuff I kind of thought I maybe sort of knew? Nope.
I’ll never listen to music the same way again.
There’s one tune that I hear kinda regularly on the satellite station at the gym. It sounds to me like they’re singing about making and eating some kind of soup. I guess I’m wrong about that one, too.

Last night I enjoyed a new experience and, well, it led to some rather unexpected results. I visited a karaoke bar!

Okay, go ahead, label me deprived or something. The fact is, it’s been more than a few years since I stopped hanging out in bars for the sake of just hanging out. The activity just doesn’t hold a whole lot of appeal for me. Sure, I did my share of it back in the day but I’ve usually got way better things to do with my time. So almost every time I find myself in that environment I learn something. And karaoke… I guess it’s a trend that just passed me by.

Here’s my basic interpretation of how it works. The establishment primes its customers with alcohol while playing loud music. I think it has to be loud so that everyone needs to shout to converse. It gets the voice primed. The alcohol serves as lubricant. Then they open the mike. The operator (or MC, I guess – what do you call the guy who guides the show?) sets up the songs and works the equipment. He seemed to have the ability to mix the song’s actual vocals back in so that more reserved participants would have a little help. Lyrics are displayed on strategically placed video monitors. Available songs could be chosen from a large binder – a couple of them, actually – that could be found on the bar. The night progressed and the lubricity rose, with mostly predictable results. A couple of people were actually pretty good. Most were not, but all were entertaining to one degree or another.

Before you ask, no, I didn’t take the mike at any point, which was probably a good thing for the other patrons. I must confess, though, before the night was over I did peruse the binder of songs. The lubrication, in the form of a few Coronas, was working as expected. Had I found some Zappa I might have given it a whirl. And that leads right into the unexpected results I mentioned earlier.

Time and time again I was surprised – astounded, actually – by song lyrics. Everything I knew was wrong! Top-40, metal, didn’t matter. Stuff I kind of thought I maybe sort of knew? Nope.

I’ll never listen to music the same way again.

There’s one tune, maybe some kind of rap, that I hear kinda regularly on the satellite station at the gym. It sounds to me like they’re chanting about making and eating some kind of soup. I guess I’m wrong about that one, too.

2 thoughts on “Karaoke”

  1. Well, like I said I was looking for some Zappa. At least I’m familiar with those lyrics.

    FWIW I lost patience with and my taste for pop music way back when disco became king. Like my distaste for sports, it’s led me to an ignorance that could be called a bit of an embarrassment – if it were possible for such things to bother me.

    Anyway, ever hear of a band called Riboflavin and the Vitamin Ds? Out of Queens (NY), I think the ‘band’ it was actually a group of friends that partied together and just happened to be able to play music, with heavy emphasis on the party. Story has it they’d scrape together enough cash to buy some studio time, bring in equipment, girls, and plenty of liquid and/or vegetable substances, and play until the time ran out. You can imagine what these sessions were like by the time they ended. There a session-ending version of Up In Smoke that I’m guessing must have resulted in more than one DWI on the way home.

    I have some of their material – one of the guys in the group worked with a typesetter friend of mine at a shop in NYC. And now there are several songs where all I know is the Riboflavin version of the lyrics. Whenever I hear the real song it just sounds wrong.

    The two album-length cassettes I have (‘Sex, Drugs, and Riboflavin’ and ‘Winged Nuts, Broccoli Spears, and Very Small Rocks!’) live on in MP3 format on my media server and sometimes part of it makes it into the rotation. I should YouTube the whole thing and immortalize these guys forever. They deserve it. A couple of their originals – Hebrew Blues comes to mind – were actually pretty good.

  2. Didn’t take the mike? There’s a waste of good beer! ;-p

    Next time, do “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” I’ll send you the original lyrics in Zulu!

Go ahead and say it.