Being a contributor to a blog that has a primary focus on music, it can be intimidating for me to step into the arena to discuss music from a non-musician’s standpoint. Any notion I had of being a musician was completely disabused in grade school after my third grade teacher took away my triangle and told me that perhaps my talents would be better suited for handing out the programs to the school pageant rather than performing in it. Looking back it was probably for the best. I have the neither the skills nor patience (read rhythm) to play a musical instrument so why try to force the matter from such a young age. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t strum to a time measure because I could sure as shit distribute leaflets littered with the names of other kids that could keep a beat.
Over the years I was able to reconcile with the truth and face the fact that I will never be a musician. To be perfectly honest, I am 100% OK with that. You see, to me music is very much like magic and I loves me some magic. Now I am not referring to made up magic like dragons and ferries and shit like that but magic that one might catch at a show at a casino on the strip in Vegas. Show me a card trick and I will probably be stupefied by your skills of slight-of-hand. The only problem I have with magic tricks is that I want to know how they are done so I will take to the youtubes and watch people perform a trick over and over again until I think I grasp the basics of how the tricks was executed. This repeated viewing comes with an expense as once I understand the trick I become less fascinated in the trick and to a greater extent all illusions as a whole. If I were to study magic I truly believe that I would lose most of my interest because as it stands my fascination stems from not knowing.
The example of magic is one of the primary reasons I love music. I have sat in numerous conversations with musicians as they discussed things like ‘bridges’ and ‘breakdowns’ and all I can do is nod my head and wonder ‘what the fu…’ To me, not knowing how a piece of music is created is the same as fucking card trick. I feel like if I know how it’s done it will lose its luster. What I am saying, sometimes not knowing is awesome. Do I really want to know how Beck comes up with his compositions? How Radiohead decides on the arrangements of their synth sounds? What was Hendrix thinking when he would sneak in extra notes in a solo? Do I want to know the answers to these questions? Hell yes and at the same time, never in a million years. In a way magic and music are the same things to me, both are mystifying and extremely fascinating.
However, on that note…
Regardless of musical ability that I may or may not have, last night I went out with some friends and we hit a karaoke bar. Can I play a guitar? Nope. Are the drums my thing? Nope again. In the case that your reading comprehension is lacking or that of a third grader, I can’t play a lick of music. Can I grab a microphone and sing the shit out of some songs very poorly. Hell to the fuckin’ YES!
True musician types like the editors of this blog, I am looking at you Todd and Jaded, may frown upon karaoke because it is not real music. (For the record I have no idea how Todd and JB feel about karaoke but I like instigating from across the internets.) I am going to allow myself to climb up on my high horse and proclaim that singing karaoke is fucking awesome. It allows all of us who love music to step up in front of the mic and live our stage performance dreams.
Hitting the karaoke bar also provides some of the greatest people watching you will ever have the opportunity to do. Based on my experience last night, the following list describes the type of people that you can watch perform when they let a little of their guard down.
- The Tipsy – Inhibitions are thrown to the wind. These folks have come to the bar to have a good time. Their singing skills vary from the “what are you doing to my ears? Please make it stop.” level to quite possibly “man he’s pretty good.” These folks make up the greatest number of karaoke performers. Whether they are good or bad you enjoy their performances because you can tell they are just letting go of their worries and having a good time. For the record, I am one of these people.
- The Shit Can Wasted – Witnessing someone who can barely stand up let alone attempt to sing is pretty much a bad time for everyone. Let’s face it, no one wants to be around a person who can barely maintain a vertical posture when they are drunk not to mention when they try to sing. For the record, I am a reformed Shit Can Wasted karaoke performer.
- The I Can’t Sing a Note but I Don’t Care – You give these folks a pass because at least they are having a good time. For the record…
- The I Think I Can Sing but I Really Can’t – These assholes are the best at unwittingly putting a damper on everyone’s buzz. Since they think they can sing they don’t pick a fun crowd raising song that everyone knows and loves. No these assholes always pick a song that is so far beyond their register and is slow as hell. Or it is hell? Don’t believe me? Go watch some asshat stumble through a Whitney Houston (RIP) version of ‘I Will Always Love You.’ Not fun for anyone. The worst part is when they are finished the room is dead silent and filled with people thinking “Finally.”
- The I Can Actually Sing– Great you sang someone else’s song very well. Show off. No one likes a show off. Next! Just to be clear, there isn’t a person alive that would ever claim this about me.And finally,
- The Guy That Only Sings Country Songs – This guy may actually be able to sing a country song well but you know what? Big deal. Male vocal country songs are easy to as shit to sing. All men have to do to sing country music is deepen their voice and add some twang. To make things worse they always sing some ridiculous country ballad which is slow as fuck and a real mood killer for EVERYONE at the bar. Am I saying this because I don’t particularly like country music? Fair question but the answer is no. If you ever heard me singing the 1986 Georgia Satellites hit ‘Keep Your Hands to Yourself’ you would realize that a terrible singer like me can totally pull it off and since it isn’t some shitty ditty about a dead dog/cheatin woman/broken down truck people always love it, regardless of the fact that country music sucks.
In summation- I am bad at music, I possess a marginal knowledge or slight-of-hand/illusions, and I fucking love belting out songs at karaoke bars.
Do you have any example of folks you witnessed at the karaoke bar that I didn’t include in the list above? Feel free to share by leaving a comment below. In the meantime I will leave you with this: