My parents really like singing karaoke. In fact, I think it saved their marriage. But it was never something I got into. Not that I haven’t been roped into it from time to time, like when my mom forced me to sing “Save the Best for Last” (it was at my parents’ house and no one else was around so it was actually kind of enjoyable) or when I was living in China and my cousin and her friends pushed into warbling “My Heart Will Go On,” which was a complete disaster because a) it’s Celine Dion, and b) I had never sung it before. My cousin and her friends listened in horrid disbelief, as though they had expected by my sheer American-ness that I should have been able to sing this difficult American song.
My close friends are not karaoke fiends, except, that is, for Yiannis. Recently he and his sister have been hosting karaoke nights at a downtown bar, and while I’ll often go to have a drink, cheer people on, and be generally social, I’ve never sung.
Until last Sunday.
For some reason I had gotten it in my craw that I should sing karaoke in public at least once. in my life It even became a sort of 2018 goal. After trying a bunch of songs, I found one that seemed to be in my range: Anna Nalick’s “Breathe (2am).” I also thought, rather logically, that because I can’t carry a tune in a bucket that a rap song would up my alley. Hence, Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.”
I practiced both songs a lot, having finally learned that practice makes perfect. Still I was nervous. I almost chickened out. But because it was Yiannis’s birthday, I powered through it.
My first song was “Breathe (2am),” luckily because people weren’t really paying attention. Although I knew the lyrics and rhythm (which took me a while to learn), I felt off. I think maybe the lyrics are not quite the right speed at that particular bar, but who knows? However, when I finished no one seemed to notice, which again was dandy by me.
It felt like such a huge accomplishment, not to mention a big relief, to have finally sung that I didn’t even feel a need to sing “Gold Digger.” But a little part of me wanted to. Maybe it was the adrenaline. Maybe because it’s a great song. Either way, I found myself filling out a card and handing it to the bartender.
By the time my turn came up again, the place was much fuller, and when people saw what song I was doing, they seemed to get excited. Again, I felt off with the lyrics and totally screwed up a couple of verses, but surprisingly people seemed impressed. When I got verses correct, there was some cheering, and when I finished there was even more. A couple of guys were like, “That was incredible!” and “That was amazing!” Needless to say I was very, very surprised because I didn’t think I was very good compared to my practice sessions.
I had such an adrenaline rush afterward, I could barely pay attention to the conversation I was having with one of Yiannis’s friends. Then later, on the train, I couldn’t even pay attention to the podcast. I just kept reliving my “performance.”
But whether or not I’ll sing in public again is a whole other story.