Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sing Your Life

Full disclosure for all seven of my intrepid readers (if you're still out there). I went on vacation. And then the computer locked up. And it's kinda boring to write about the Reds and Bengals during the offseason. Anyway, this entry can only loosely be considered as sports-related. Either way, enjoy the bonanza of posting today, I'm still not getting a MySpace page.

So the lady and I were in Miami a few weeks ago with a good friend of mine (above, pictured and pink shirted) and his wife. We got the shaft as far as weather conditions went (coldest weekend of the year) so decided to make up for the dearth of beach time by taking full advantage of our hotel's happy hour after drinking champagne in our room. After hitting a surprisingly cool club on our first night, Pink and I decided it was time to do up the karaoke bar. A little back story:

Pink was (and is) a huge music fan. When we were in high school he grew his hair out in an attempt (
futile) to look like Jim Morrison. At some point, I'm pretty sure he dyed it. I, on the other hand, was clearly working on my quiff at the time. I turned him into a Smiths fan, and on any given night we were the annoying guys singing The Boy With a Thorn In His Side around a campfire while you were drinking your Ice House trying to score. We also have similarly arranged vocal cords, and the effect of us singing together has prompted comparisons to amplified bullhorns in stereo. At Pink's bachelor party in Vegas, we bribed the KJ (karaoke jockey) to let us sing With or Without You and Blaze of Glory back to back. He responded by turning the mic completely off during both of our renditions. We really didn't need it in his defense.

South Beach isn't exactly known as karaoke central, but I remembered a certain Ufford-penned post that mentioned Paul Rudd singing at a hotel bar during the Super Bowl weekend. After a little research, we were on our way to Studio at the Shelborne Hotel to get our K fix. We walked in the door, and I was shocked to see how serious the place was. Nice big stage, a monitor showing the performance for those too far from the action, and this guy:

The KJ at Studio was a turtle shaped man who hated when people did things like swing the microphones, use the mic stand as a rock prop, or touch any of the guitars (there were many) hanging in the back of the stage that weren't designated as "prop" instruments. Needless to say these rules were broken frequently (Pink really drove the turtle crazy with the mic swinging, he kept muttering "whassa matter with you?"). All in all though, the guy was worth the over in the overpriced drinks. He had a keyboard that he would "riff" on when someone sang a song that he liked. The only time I saw him break it out was during a pretty solid rendition of "Could You Be Loved", complete with steel drum effect. Later during the 2nd night, he chased some guy off the stage for plugging in a guitar. Amazing.

So I know people's definition of sport varies widely (poker?, darts?) but let me be the first to tell you that if karaoke's not a sport, then I don't work for Darlington electronics. How can it not be a sport when so many of sports' most important cliches apply to it? For example:

1. Practice good sportmanship

The KJ's have a rough and pretty thankless job. Don't give em' shit and boo every time they call someone else to the stage because you want to sing. And if you really need to sing, slip him a fiver (in Vegas you need more). Also, don't make out on stage while someone is singing (see pic, top of post).

2: Always give 110%

If it's necessary to sell that last "She!" from Radiohead's Creep by collapsing to your knees, you fucking do it, rugburns be damned. Conversely, if you're gonna stand on stage feeling embarrassed and holding the mic seven feet away from your mouth, you need to spend some more time hustling at practice (singing in the shower) before you ever see the court again. Seriously, just stay on the bench.

3. Have confidence in your teammates

This is kind of a tricky one. Sometimes drunken idiots think it's cool to karaoke-crash when you're singing your song and run onstage with you. These people are not your teammates, they are the opposition. Don't let them upstage you; the second they arrive, start up a faux mosh pit and convince them to do a stage dive. If that doesn't work then completely ignore them. Your real teammate in karaoke is the song you pick. And song selection is key. Always go with what you feel, don't let your drunken friends convince you that it would be hilarious if you sang "Love Shack" at a hipster bar with no backup singer. The wrong song at the wrong time and/or location can lead to karaoke disaster. Trust me. Oh yeah, and that early 90's rap song that you kinda remember the words to is only going to get you in trouble. The most painful karaoke moments (other than the drunken-girls-sharing-one-mic-and-singing I Will Survive) are when someone is a verse and half behind on "Informer" and reading the teleprompter like he's hooked on phonics. If you want to do it right, pick a song that you know the lyrics to and have confidence in. Pink has this nailed. He went with The Doors and the Stones and knew every word.

4. Talent is fine, but hustle is better

The Pete Rose axiom. You can be Whitney Houston and suck at karaoke if your heart's not in it. Never mail it in. And if you can't really sing, give it your all and people will still respect you. And be very, very careful if you're going to attempt to mock the song you are singing. You may come off as a huge douche (see Shack, Love).

5. Always be prepared

Preparation is why the Patriots are in the playoffs every year. In karaoke, preparation=booze. If you aren't three sheets to the wind, you will not be able to compete in a competitive karaoke environment.
No way I attempt Prince sober (even the lady was surprised I pulled it off).
Also, booze and smoking help make your voice sound really cool.

6. Know your opponent (audience)

Already covered some of this but there's more. Never, under any circumstances, pick a song with more than 5 verses. Leave American Pie, November Rain, and Hotel California alone, unless you want everyone to hate you. And be wary of singing anything other than roots-rock or country at a country and western karaoke bar. And don't sing Broadway songs anywhere. And be careful with popular eighties songs (that weren't dance hits) in Miami if the bar isn't carding.

6. Know your limitations

The human body can only take so much. If singing on consecutive nights (and blowing your proverbial karaoke wad the 1st night), do not try a song that requires any vocal talent. Pink held up well on this front, going with Never Tear Us Apart (a true baritone ballad) on night two, while I made the mistake of attempting Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil. In case you are from Miami (or under the age of 24), this is the song I'm referring to:

Peter Garrett's dance style (the best examples of which you can see at the 2:50 and 4:00 mark) is apparently way easier to mimic than his vocal style. I found this out the hard way and ended up sounding like Carol Channing for the last three minutes of the song. And oh yeah, no one but Pink (it was a mostly teenage crowd at this point) had any idea what the hell I was doing contorting on stage. The whole time I was busy thinking to myself "Wow, I really do a great Peter Garrett." Must be getting old.

So yeah, karaoke's a sport. And I can kick your ass at it.

By the way, still fired.


Wise One said...

Wow, I was getting worried that you were smuggled out of Miami to become a drug mule or something.

Glad to see you came out of retirement with a Novel of a Mega Post... or four.
I figured XU would bring you back.

You're a Karoake junkie, I can't believe you called him Pink, thats awesome.

regisbitches said... fire...trying to score. Something rings a bell here.

By the way, the performance of "Love Shack" in said hipster bar was nothing short of show stopping.

swing4 said...

Best post yet.

We've never met, but in the event I ever marry, I'm inviting you and Pink to sing at the wedding. I have a feeling your performance would be a work of art worthy of God's house.