Of all the billions of words circulating in the universe none strike quite so much fear in this singer’s heart like the word KARAOKE. I firmly believe that Karaoke is Japanese for “musical hell with beer” even though Spouse, who lived in Japan and speaks the language, assures me this is not so. I’m not alone in this conviction. Many of the musicians I know would rather be dipped in sugar and thrust into a pool full of bees than sit through an evening of people singing along to pre-recorded tracks. And yet, despite this, Saturday night found me in a karaoke lounge in the hinterlands of Jersey. Dismayed does not begin to describe it.
At first, I attempted to lay low. If they didn’t know I was a singer I could sit quietly and let everyone else take the wheel. Maybe I could tell people I was an accountant. But here’s the thing: if one is going to go incognito perhaps an emerald green sequined vintage top and six inch heels are not the best wardrobe choices. It also didn’t help matters that my friend, whose party it was, announced to everyone in the room “this is my friend Wendy Lane, and she’s a wonderful singer”. Within thirty seconds I had been well and truly outed.
The thing about karaoke is it’s a lesson in letting go of expectations. You have very little control here (and if you know anything at all about me at this point it is that I like being in control) and the more you fight this the more you will fail. You can pick your song and that’s about it. You’re stuck with whatever key, tempo and arrangement the machine decides to spew at you. All you can do is take a deep breath and hold on.
it wasn’t all bad.There’s something exhilarating about having to think on my feet, adjusting to an accompaniment I’ve never heard, and an audience who’s not necessarily interested in me. I go back to all the things I was taught about learning to sing in piano bars. Find the one person in the room that’s listening. Let go of the idea that this is a “performance”. Be in the room with your audience. This is a chance to sing and have fun, it’s not about impressing anyone.
What was interesting was that once I did sing people people wanted to talk to me. For an introvert like me (I know, go figure) it made all the difference to my enjoyment of the evening. Do I now love karaoke? No. Will I be looking for chances to to do it in the future? Um, no. Did I get to sing a thing or two I wouldn’t normally get to, and make some interesting new friends. Absolutely!