Why Are My Ears Bleeding?
A FRIEND OF MINE recently posted a video on Facebook of her singing at a local bar on “Karaoke Night.” She was pretty good. She was also a bit tipsy by her own admission. Personally, I find the whole concept of Karaoke somewhat disturbing.
The entire thing that is “Karaoke” – Japanese for “Empty Orchestra,” is a fairly recent creation according to an article I read in a magazine. They date its beginning to 1970 in Osaka, Japan and a musician name Daisuke Inoue (which is Japanese for, “I can’t sing either.”)
For close to 50 years now slightly tipsy people around the world have been getting up and singing “Purple Rain” and “Let’s Get It On” in front of a room filled with other slightly tipsy people.
To show support for friends I have attended a Karaoke Night or two and I have noticed one rather startling thing. There might be forty people in the room, but no one is paying any attention to the singer. Everyone is either talking with friends or meditating, nervously waiting for their turn in the spotlight. The pathetic soul at the microphone might as well be singing in their shower at home. They would have better acoustics there and no hangover the next morning.
I think the consumption of alcohol helps Karaoke. I’m sure it helps to bolster the courage of the nervous singers and I know that it helped me to tolerate them.
Don’t take me wrong. I’m not disparaging the people who get up to sing “Love Shack” or “Born to Run.” Go for it if it makes you happy and satisfies that dormant dream where, instead of “Lulu’s Bar and Grill,” you are onstage at the Hollywood Bowl.
I can’t criticize Karaoke honestly without having done it myself – once. I don’t remember what song I butchered. All that is verifiable is that, when I sang, babies cried, birds fell from the skies, and milk went bad. This all happened in Terre Haute (That’s French for “I think this milk is bad. Taste it.”) a few years ago. I’m glad I hadn’t tried Karaoke while I was still living on the Left Coast or I would have been blamed for that die-off of those whales.
There are people; I know a few, for whom Karaoke is a passion. They plan their week around what bars have Karaoke on what nights. Some have CDs with their own arrangements of background music. That ain’t cheap – but neither is Golf or Sky Diving, and I’m sure that fewer people have died doing Karaoke than those other things.
Karaoke has been around for almost 50 years and there is no sign that it will fade away like Fondue Parties or The Captain and Tennille. Karaoke is here to stay. As long as there is sufficient liquor and electricity there will be Karaoke. The “Empty Orchestra” will continue to feed the dreams of bathroom singers worldwide. You never know – the next Milli or even the Vanilli might be out there on a Thursday night in Terre Haute.
It’s just a shame that no one is listening.