Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Karaoke Blog

Over the past few years, I have become a fan of Karaoke. There are a lot of Karaoke bars in Portland so I think that has something to do with my growing interest in it. I have noticed that there are few different types or groups of Karaoke bars, which I am going to break down. But first Karaoke in general has a few rules that must be followed

Rule # 1 – The song you choose must be funny or ironic.
Song choice is a very important feature of Karaoke. The song must either make people laugh, dance, or at least draw a reaction of “What the fuck???”. If your song does not do one of these, pick a new song. No one wants to hear you sing your rendition of the new Nelly or P-Diddy song. Seriously, no one does so shut it. My songs of choice are Unskinny Bop by Poison and a duet with my friend Paul of I got You Babe (Paul’s the bitch in the song!).

Rule # 2 - You can’t be professional singer
Actually you should have a pretty bad voice when singing. It is ok if you can carry a tune, but the whole point of Karaoke is to have fun and look like an ass. This isn’t American Idol people. No one is impressed if you can sing all the high notes to a certain song. If you are a professional singer and do Karaoke, everyone now thinks that you are a douche bag. Keep your singing to the Church Choir where people actually want you to sing well.

Rule # 3 – You MUST be intoxicated
In my opinion, this is the most important rule of them all. I mean imagine having a company tent party and they have karaoke (yes I’m referring to you St Jude Medical). Are you really going to get up there and sing “Baby Got Back” sober? If you do, it means you are trying to show off and therefore probably breaking rule # 2. Most good Karaoke stories should end with “I sang Karaoke last night???? Wow was I wasted”

Ok now that we got the rules out of the way, let’s look at the different types of Karaoke Bars.

The Dive Bar Karaoke
The characteristics of this are pretty obvious. A bar you can smoke in. People drinking Tall cans of beer or well drinks. A lot of times have a mix of local drunks and Hipsters who swear they started going to the bar when it was still a local hole in the wall. Crappy floor, sometimes velvet wall paper, a few local drunks who sing every night, possibly an old black dude that sings Shaft (see rule # 1, good choice my friend). For some reason in Portland, a lot of the Dive Karaoke joints are also Chinese Food Restaurants. I really don’t get the connection since Karaoke is more a Japanese thing. Some examples are:

Sunset Lounge – Fullerton, CA

Kopa Room (inside Linbrook Bowl) – Anaheim, CA

The Stargate Lounge (i.e. Chopsticks) – Portland, OR

Galaxy – Portland, OR

The Rock Star Karaoke
This version of Karaoke consists of a live band playing. At first, this sounds like a good idea, but once you break it down, it’s a horrible idea. Typically you see this in higher class joints where there’s a bunch of dudes wearing shiny shirts, Douche bags with Popped collars or Huntington Beach Meathead Fake LA Rockers. You’ll see a lot of top shelf liquor and Corona’s flowing with this crowd. This style in my opinion is really lame for a few reasons. You don’t have a big book to pick songs from. You are limited to what the band knows. Typically they only know a bunch of new songs, which could break rule # 1. People who usually do this type of Karaoke are really good singers, which breaks rule # 2. Again people it’s not American Idol. Here are some examples that I’ve witnessed:

Martini Park – Plano, TX

Slide Bar – Fullerton, CA

The Japanese/Asian Karaoke
For some reason, the Asians love them some Karaoke. The funny thing is they only like doing it with their close friends. Because of this, they set-up a Karaoke store type place where you rent out private rooms. You have full control of the songs you select, who sings, the option to stop a song half way through and so on. Basically its like you are at home (see below), but you are paying by the hour to use their equipment. I’ve been to one that was in a mall, but they allowed you to BYOB. I’ve been lucky enough to go to one in Japan where it was all you can drink. The only kicker was you had to call the front desk every time you wanted more and they would bring them up to your room. I think we got cut-off at one point because we called them like every 5 minutes (See rule # 3). I don’t know the names of places I went too so you’ll have to find them yourself.

The at home Karaoke
Everyone’s been to a party where they’ve had a Karaoke system set-up. These systems range from DVD and a microphone in your stereo system to a full blown system where they have its own monitor. Now a days, like in my case, my cable company has Karaoke “On-Demand” for free. This works out perfect because you don’t have to set-up anything, put in dvd’s bla bla bla. Even at home all 3 rules must be followed. In my case, we usually close out the neighborhood bars, then come back to my apartment and sing until 5am. Oh and for everyone in the Plaza, the microphone broke.

In summary Karaoke can be a very fun activity to partake in or just being an observer. Just make sure you follow the rules so no one gets hurt.