This is Your Brain on Karaoke

Walter Pater, the Victorian art and literature critic, claimed that “all art aspires to the condition of music.” I’m inclined to agree, but would also add that all music aspires to the condition of karaoke.

When I read critics or hear people talk about the DIY/punk revolution in music, they always talk about how it:

-Encourages everyone to participate
-Blurs the line between audience and performer
-Rejects instrumental virtuosity
-Emphasizes emotional expression

Sounds like karaoke to me. If the goal of music is for an artist to communicate their emotional experience to another human being, how could that circuit be complete without the other human being re-creating that music? Karaoke is the ultimate musical expression (and recreation.)

Nevertheless, some are karaophobic. Here are some helpful pointers.

1. There’s power in numbers: If you want to sing but are a little bit too nervous, one or more of your friends will be all too happy to sing with you on duets or girl group singles.

2. Familiarity breeds content: Choose songs that you know fairly well and that you like. There’s no point in singing a song you don’t like, and it’s fairly easy to get lost if you don’t know the song that well. Similarly, a song that everyone knows tends to (but doesn’t always) get a better response than more obscure fare.

3. Is this damned thing on?: Singing louder makes up for inability to carry a tune or keep a rhythm.

4. I think I’ll have another pint!: Unlike most activities, karaoke is one of the few things that people actually do better when completely shit-faced.

5. More popular than Jesus: The Beatles are always good.

6. Everybody Is A Star: Most rock stars do more than sing. They dance, prance, and sometimes even drop their pants. You have a talent of some sort— so WORK it. Make a funny face; show us your imitation of bacon frying; do the swim. I once saw someone eat a hamburger while singing “All Shook Up.” Hmm, hmm, mmm. Awesome. Use what you’ve got to put on a show.

7. Those who know…: Really great singers do not judge a drunk gal warbling off her favourite song at karaoke night. They know what hard work and dedication is required to become a virtuoso, and don’t blame you for not putting yourself through that.

8. It’ll be years before they find places to hide more cheese on a pizza: There is no such thing as being too sincere, too earnest, too enthusiastic, too emotional, or too hot when singing karaoke. You get to be cool after you blow everyone away with your impassioned karaoke performance.

love, your host Teddy the K

February 14, 2009 – Valentine’s Day, 9 PM – 2 AM
The Cameron House, 408 Queen St W
Cover $7 (or $5 if you’re wearing red)