Saturday, April 4, 2009


Oh Karaoke. I have a love/hate relationship with this.

First off, I forgot my camera last night, so there are no pictures of my friends and me rocking out, unfortunately. There WILL be pics next time. I need to get into the habit of bringing my camera everywhere.

I went last night with my husband Dan, and two couple friends: Abby and Brian, and Lauren and Randy. I've been friends with Abby and Lauren my whole life, and it's fun that we can all go out with our significant others and have a great time.

Lauren and I are both singers, as is Abby's husband Brian. The others, not so much. Note that I'm not saying they're bad... I'm just saying they're not singers. However, there lies a problem in being a "singer" when one decides to do karaoke, at least in my mind. I tend (as do others) to be incredibly critical of myself, especially when partaking in a musical performance - be it for fun or otherwise. Thus, karaoke can be a weird experience. Many participants at a karaoke event (typically held in a bar) are REALLY bad singers. Often they're not sober, and they do it just to have fun, make fun of themselves, and be the center of attention for a little while. Let's be honest here - we do live in a pretty narcissistic society, and whenever someone is allowed to take the mike and make a complete fool of themselves, they often do it for the attention.

The complexity of being a Singer (yes, I'm using a capitol S) in a karaoke situation is interesting. When I'm performing I like to do the very best I can. Usually when alcohol is involved, my musical ability tends to go down the toilet. However, since I generally loathe being the center of attention, alcohol is needed for me to take the stage. (My friend Lauren agrees with me on this analysis. We were discussing last night.) So I was charged with the following quandry: do I take the stage after some liquid courage and make a fool of myself, or do I not participate? I chose the former.

I chose two of my favorite songs to sing. "Son of a Preacher Man" as made famous by Dusty Springfield, and "Alone" as made famous by Heart. When I handed in my slips of paper with my name, the song, and the track number (along with the selections of Dan and Brian) I was approached by the DJ. Which of my selections was to be a warmup and which was to be my competition song. Oh, crap. This is a competition? I wasn't even planning on staying that long! (I decided to go with Alone as my competition song. Belting = fun.) At least I was given the chance to warm up instead of having to go up there cold.

When I was called to sing my first selection, I discovered that the balance between the mike and the background music was way off. I was informed by my companions that they could hardly hear me while I was singing, and that I was completely drowned out by the background vocals. Lovely. At least I chose the "loud" song for my competition selection. Brian and Dan ran into this situation as well. Fortunately for all of us, we chose the louder of the two to compete with.

Brian went first in the competition. He sang "Piano Man" by Billy Joel. He did a good job and made sure to sing as loudly as he could. While he was singing, Abby leaned over and told me she could tell from his voice that he was really straining, and while we could hear him, the balance was still off. Oh well. A couple people we didn't know sang, and then Dan sang "Sweet Caroline" by Niel Diamond. He's a complete ham and had a grand old time singing up there. It was also really fun because everyone in the bar was singing the added parts that aren't really on the recording, but are known by Red Sox fans. Someone else sang, then it was my turn.

I was delayed in my start because of an issue with the disc, but I got to sing my choice anyway. I made a conscious effort to sing as loudly as I could - and on my first long high note my voice cracked. Crap. I was trying to sing in my chest voice and clearly that wasn't a good decision, although I'm not as loud when singing with my head voice. However, I took deep breaths and did the best I could. Everyone told me they could hear me, so that was good.

Shortly after I sang we decided to leave, despite the fact that the competition wasn't over yet. Apparently we did pretty well, since the judges didn't want us to go. However, it was nearly midnight and us old fogies had to get to bed. (We're not really old, but we were all ready to call it a night.)

Overall it was a fun experience. I'm not sure I'm going to go on a competition night again though. There was a little too much anxiety for me involved.

And yes, I'm aware that I take my singing too seriously :-P What can you do?

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