Thursday, April 10, 2008

Life: The karaoke train-wreck to come

Haley singingTwo years ago I did something I never thought I'd have the courage to do, I got up in a bar and sang a karaoke song solo. And I didn't suck.

People who know me in real life were shocked that I got up and sang. I have a well-deserved reputation as being the quiet/shy/reserved person in the group. In fact, shortly after Marriott first met me, she expressed concern that I was being left out of conversations because I wasn't talking much.

"Really?" I said. "I don't feel left out. I'm participating in my head."

And it was true, I had all sorts of comebacks and comments swirling in my head, but I don't always like to compete to be heard. Plus, sometimes, truthfully, all I'm doing is listening and there's not much else going on at a conscious level. Just processing. (Sounds a little vegetative, I know, but sometimes I just don't have anything to say.)

One thing that I have been vocal about with friends, though, is a fear of public speaking. It's kind of a nuisance, actually, because I'd like to be able to present workshops and the like some day, so every once in a while I do something totally scary just to shake things up. Like taking an acting class, or allowing myself to be brought up on stage, or singing karaoke.

Yes, back to the karaoke.

A few weeks after that first karaoke experience with our friends, we were having a party at our house. At some point, our friend Mike brought out his guitar along with an amp and microphone, and Dave brought out the iPod, and the evening turned into an impromptu sing-along night.

We had so much fun that two months later we planned an official karaoke party. Our friend Rod brought over his mixing board and speakers, we had two microphones, we set up the computer to play iTunes along with a scrolling lyric program called MiniLyrics. There was a lot of good and bad singing, and everyone seemed to have a blast.

A year ago February, we did it again, and all I can say that at 3 a.m., when most people had gone home, I was at the microphone attempting some Fleetwood Mac while Rod disassembled the set-up. And I was 100 percent sober.

Truthfully, I don't have much of a voice, but evidently I enjoy singing. (The church youth choir and the middle school swing choir didn't develop my voice so much as make me acutely aware of when I am flat, which is often.)

Which brings us to today. Less than 48 hours to go until our next karaoke party. Same setup as previous parties, but this year with a theme -- Awesome '80s. Instead of repeating songs from previous parties, we're encouraging everyone to try new material (that was Hilly's idea -- thanks Hilly. I think.)

Unfortunately, I didn't start thinking about what songs I want to sing and practicing until this week. And here is where a few problems come into play.

No. 1 -- I like to sing along to songs by male vocalists, and sometimes that comes across as strange. Past efforts on my part have been Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen, Here it Goes Again by OK Go, Mona Lisa by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger, and Love You Madly by Cake. See, all those have been male. Sure, there was the Bree Sharp song, but that falls under problem No. 2 below.

No. 2 -- Some of my favorite songs are more obscure. Did you see the list above? Not many crowd-pleasers in that group. Someday I might have the right crowd for Metallica's version of Astronomy, but I'm pretty sure that only my car upholstery will ever get to hear me sing that. Way too long and niche.

No. 3 -- My favorite bands in the 80s were Rush, Pink Floyd, Guns N'Roses, Rush (again), Yes, Queen, Rush (again) -- you get the idea. Not necessarily the easy-to-sing, karaoke crowd-pleasing favorites, especially when sung by someone of the wrong gender. :)

So what am I preparing and practicing?

I tried to go for a fun song, so I'm working on Walk Like an Egyptian, which might come out OK. And my rendition of The Logical Song isn't so bad (yeah, it came out in 1979, so sue me). And just this morning, my husband talked me into doing Fun, Fun, Fun as a prelude to his Brian Wilson (both not '80s, but that's fine).

Then why do I say that karaoke is going to be a train-wreck?

Two reasons: Leather and Lace and Suddenly.

Leather and Lace is a Stevie Nicks song that I told Mike I would sing with him as a duet. No real recording backing us, though. Nope. Mike's playing his guitar. It's all us. Gulp. Let's just say this song is challenging for me. But that's not even the real train wreck.

The real train wreck waiting to happen is Suddenly. I was dying to sing with Mark (who has a to-die-for Neil Diamond voice) and for some reason agreed to do Suddenly with him. But I am definitely no Olivia Newton-John. It's way out of my vocal range and so far my practice sessions in the car have produced voice-cracking abominations that not even my upholstery appreciates being exposed to. Ugh. I definitely need to call Mark and bag on this -- or drink a lot at the party.

OK, so 48 hours of practice to go. Pray for me. :P

I'll let you know how the party turns out, and whether I bagged on Suddenly. In the mean time, in writing this post, I discovered I made a handy-dandy widget of the songs I've been talking about, plus a few extras that might show up in a sing-along/karaoke post in the future.

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