Mid City Meddler

Mid City Meddler
By Muffy Junes

Beats The Hell Out Of An Office Job

Believe it or not, there are still a few people around who don't know what karaoke is. Well, it's a living. And it's a way of life. It's the way I pay my bills, providing the way of life for those who partake in nightly expression through vocalization. It's wholesome fun, bonding strangers through the commonality of fear, vulnerability and the exhilaration of performance. The shyest wallflower will overcome sweaty palms and racing heart to walk away with a confident glow that can surely be identified as the result of applause and approval. One's professional status in life is left at the door on karaoke night. Everyone has an equal opportunity and courtesy takes the limelight. The discipline of patience, ever so conflicting for the human nature, blossoms nightly. I see this as proactive, creating a chain of positive reinforcement to be passed from person to person, enhancing the tasks and pauses of life.

The word "karaoke" is Japanese for "you sing, m*f*r!" Developed originally as a torture device, the intent backfired when people started enjoying it. They were craving the attention and pain turned to pleasure. Sometimes too much is still just not quite enough. Then there's the element of surprise. It's best when you don't know what hit you. The gorgeous, charming man had all the girls watching him until he slobbered out an ear-jabbing version of "My Way". Beer spills abound. In another scenario, the "plain Jane" in the darkest booth has no one noticing her until she humps her way through a steamy rendition of "I Touch Myself". And she does. You can tell a lot about people by the songs they sing, though delivery is the biggest giveaway. Check out the body language. Do they smoke or drink while singing? Do they make eye contact, dance around or just stand there limply? If a karaoke singer makes up words to a song, often it's because they cannot read. Really, it happens. Sometimes it's illiteracy, but usually it's just because they're trashed. Either way, the compelling urge to be in front of an audience prevails.

There are as many reasons to participate in karaoke as there are personalities. Many singers need the tension release of belting out a few. They don't care what the audience thinks, they're in it for themselves. And what about those people in the audience? Some are waiting to sing or supporting a pal's habit. Others really want to sing, but haven't yet gotten up the nerve. If it's an entertaining show, folks just stick around because it's something fun to watch. They might not sing, but like the fact that so many others do. Naturally, a few might be there to make fun of the whole concept of karaoke. Oh, don't think we don't notice you! That's okay, as long as no disrespect is made obvious. And, by the way, just by being there, you, too have become part of the master plan! BWAHHH! After all, it can be funny.

Laughter, emotion and socialization are important benefits of the karaoke lifestyle. Friends get a chance to visit on a regular basis. New friends are made. Heck, marriages are made. I know couples who met at "Muffioky" and are still together! I also know a few who used to be together, but now sit at opposite ends of the bar. Although karaoke nights can sometimes seem cult-like, they can also be freeing and non-committal. Singers karaoke hop. Some know all the "KJs" in town. They have their favorite disc numbers memorized. Many bring in their own discs. Occasionally someone will even bring in his or her own song list, wireless mike or special props. Like Elvis attire, for example. And what about those inflatable guitars? I use a percussive shaker shaped like a lemon.

I have heard more than one musician say that karaoke is bad because it takes the place of live music. To that I say, not so! Nothing takes the place of a real band. (Unless it's a crappy band.) If the venue is prone to carry live acts, karaoke nights are usually scheduled on off nights, to create more business. These are nights when people wouldn't normally come in. Karaoke can also turn people on to the taste of live music. For example, singers who have a show to promote can do so. I get a lot of working musicians at my shows. It's a chance to hone the craft, if not just sit there and slam Goldschlager.

Okay, so you still don't know what karaoke is? Well, you put a special CD in the player and when words come up on the television, someone sings them. It's easy.

Warm it up.....




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