The art of singing to music, generally in a crowded room, and often out of tune.
In Japanese the word means ‘empty orchestra’. In western civilisation it normally means ‘had too many drinks, got false sense of confidence, cleared bar’. Everyone has done a little bit of karaoke at some point in their life; at their mums wedding, or at someone’s eighteenth, or even just in the pub on a Tuesday night when they went for ‘one’.
The advent of games such as ‘Rock Band’ and ‘Singstar’ have brought the idea of being too embarrassed to sing in public to a different audience; the shyer ones amongst us are now able to gather with a small posse of their nearest and dearest and belt out their favourites. Sing Alannah Miles in the shower as if you were at Wembley? No problem, you can now indulge in this in your front room, complete with microphone.
(I am aware I am slightly lobster. I had flown back in from Portugal for my friend’s birthday (la-di-dah!) and burnt on the last day!)
The girls and I went through a stage of absolutely loving both Singstar and Rock Band. I personally can’t keep up, and am only allowed to do the guitar bit on ‘Eye of The Tiger’ as it’s fairly simple. Anything else is my round to sit out due to a severe lapse in concentration, and when my turn to do the drums comes I am duly banned due to a lack of being able to drum my hands and tap my feet at the same time. It basically means that the whole team loses because one person can’t do it (Not naming any names, team effort, big foam finger being pointed in my general direction).
At least with Rock Band there is a certain skill involved. I cannot sing, but on the same note I’m not totally tone deaf. When I warble in the shower people don’t clap, but they also don’t call the vets out as a matter of emergency, thinking there are feral cats in the garden. Singstar is however, flawed. It matters not whether you are singing in tune, but gauges the pitch of your voice. So if you are a rugby boy singing ABBA perfectly in key you are likely to time out due to the depth of your voice and if you are trying to hit the right notes of Barry White in a falsetto then frankly you are screwed.
My friend summed it up perfectly when her and another friend were doing the duet on Super Trouper. Friend one was in charge of the lyrics and the friend two the ‘oopahpah’ in the background. Turns out that’s quite a long one, and friend two soon realised that as long as she sung in the right pitch, she could sing whatever she liked. So it turned into her singing “super, troup-ah-pah, i hate this song –pah-pah, oh will it end pah – pah, feeling like a number ONE!”
In London they have this fantastic idea where you can rent a booth to sing karaoke. You are locked in with your nearest and dearest and have a waitress bring your drinks, so you never have to open the door and risk being seen by actual civilised people while you are belting out Chesney Hawkes with the rest of them. And everyone has their favourite karaoke song, even if they aren’t brave enough to sing it anywhere else than in the comfort of your own home. One of my friends proudly warbled Lionel Ritchie “All Night Long” and informed me once that he knew the entire African bit in the middle. He wasn’t joking, I realised after her serenaded me with it.
Mine is Cher, Just Like Jesse James. And I don’t care who knows it!
What’s your karaoke track? And could your friends tell me what it is, or is it a guilty pleasure?