Thursday, December 01, 2005

Singing Karaoke is Hard to Do

After yesterday’s Porn Star Karaoke post several people wondered why I didn’t sing. Truth is I only sang once, during a trip to Albuquerque a few years ago to speak at a radio convention.

Albuquerque is the only city I've ever been to where there's a bowling alley across the street from another bowling alley. Of course I shouldn't be surprised when there are two Dillards department stores in one mall. (I hope this was by design and not some big mistake they discovered the day the mall opened.) After giving my seminar on the state of today’s radio (a joke considering I haven’t been in radio for thirty years), a group of us had dinner at the only authentic Italian restaurant in the state (Buca de Beppo), shared a tiramisu that had more rum in it than the island of St. Thomas and headed for the Leisure Bowl where we hit their karaoke bar. It was packed with shitkickers. There wasn’t a single song I had heard of, and most involved killing cheating wives or losing custody battles. The tiramisu kicked in about midnight and I got bamboozled into going up to sing for the first time.

My worst fears were immediately realized. Looking out at the sea of cowboy hats and bouffant hair I could imagine them all thinking: JEW! What they didn’t know was “Jew that couldn’t sing”. In my foggy state I thought I could get away with Neil Sedaka’s BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO. It’s a nice bluesy song that I figured I could sing in a passable southern accent.

Unfortunately, the version they played was not the slow torch song but the fast super peppy 1962 ditty (with the comma, comma, down, dooby doo down downs). So now they all must be thinking “This is what Jews sing? Pre-teen bubblegum oldies by a guy who sounds like a girl?” And even if I wasn’t Jewish, who in the WORLD would sing this song in a redneck bar?

I gamely open my mouth and am already six dooby-doo’s behind. That little bouncing ball on the monitor is flying through the words. In a desperate attempt to save myself I begin talking between verses, giving bowling announcements. "They say that Breaking up is hard to do...Hey, time to sign up for the summer leagues! I know, I know that it's shoes for sizes 10 and above”...don't say that this is the end... "two for one bowling for the next fifteen minutes!"...instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again....", etc. Now they were just plain stupified. When I finally finished to stone silence (usually you even get some pity applause just for trying), I slinked back to my seat, mortified, and happened to notice it was 12:17. A girl from the next table leaned over, put her hand on my shoulder reassuringly and said "You was fuckin' GREAT!" I was very relieved. At least one person liked me. She followed that by slurring "I’VE BEEN HERE SINCE 5!".


Anonymous said...


I do not know how I ended up at your blog but you never, ever fail to make me laugh. That is pretty hard these days. Thanks.

Allan said...

I think karaoke should be banned unless it's performed by porn stars. Then it would be OK.
As footie said: thanks for the laugh. Humour is balm.

Just wandered over here, but I'd like to hear your take on the state of radio today - I believe it's gone a bit downhill in the last 30 years.

Lucky for me, I met some other folks who feel the same way. I'm proud to say that Jan. 1st will be mark the one -year anniversary of our
own independent station:

We are far from perfect,sometimes we flat-out suck, but we do try harder and we are getting better...

Anyway, I enjoyed the reads.Welcome to blog!

By Ken Levine said...

I will elaborate in future posts but I think the current state of radio sucks. I despise all JACK stations and the corporate greed that leads to such formats. Good luck with your online station.

Nate said...

Hey Ken, I'll also be looking forward to your "state of radio" diatribes. Post 'em soon.

And, it looks to me like you're getting plenty of comment traffic.


Allan said...

I will arrange for a DJ to play Tony B'S "Left my Heart.." forthwith.
We actually broadcast as well, in fact we are slated to be the N.E.B.S. default station- the last time we had a major flood here (08/04),FEMA tried contacting the local Clone-Channel stations and was unable to find a single live, local announcer to broadcast bridge/road closings, shelter locations and such. NPR took up the duties,but they were off-air for many hours awaiting a generator.

Oh yeah- what is JACK?

michelle said...

this is a great blog, it does make me laugh lots. karaoke is just a guise for public humiliation. those who think they can but really really try, either performing, hamming it up or actual singing. why oh why???