A few years back, joined by uncle in Karaoke bar in Bandra (Bombay) I serenaded the prettiest girl in the watering hole that night, to a tune which Tom Cruise brilliantly lip sang in a bar….”You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”- Righteous Brothers. The duet was a hit, and the delivery couldn’t have gone better. Like George in Seinfeld’s “The Burning”, I decided to leave on a high note, and avoid the Japanese custom, which is translated to “empty orchestra,” for nearly 3 years, following Jerry’s advice: “Showmanship, George. When you hit that high note, you say goodnight and
walk off……That’s the way they do it in Vegas.”
Tonight, after being invited out to Hyderabad’s own “Ten Downing Street” – TDS as the locals call it, I was forced to take the mic up one more time. It may have been a pretty site, but it sounded awful. I was not too thrilled about singing karaoke without a wing man, my uncle in Bombay fills that void without a problem, but tonight, none of my table guests were willing to humiliate themselves. So I took the plunge alone, requested the song I knew I could win the people’s hearts with….after all the original singers of the song overdosed on Cocaine in a hotel in my hometown of Kalamazoo not too long ago – the least I could do was sing their song in my new home of Hyderabad.
The problem with Karaoke lay not in the vocalist, I am convinced. I can sing along to any song I know on the radio without missing a beat, maybe a few notes here and there if it is a Mariah Carey song, but I am confident that I can hold my own. No, my problem with this skill is having to adjust to video of a song when the timing of the highlighted words go off. Totally throws of my perception, and my sense of tone in consequence, resulting in sounds I would not wish upon anyone. That is exactly what happened tonight. There is nothing worse as a karaoke artist, than when the song starts skipping. At least the chorus came and I regained my composure leaving the song with some dignity, but I was secretly hurting inside….My street cred from Bombay 2 years back was no longer.
Some commentary on the night otherwise. The song selections were quite funny. Mostly slow love songs like “Lady in Red” and “Dream Dream Dream.” A few of my favorite songs, that have played in Indian parties without a fail for the past 20 years included “Coma coma coma coma coma Chameleon, they come and go, they come and go oh oh oh.” and “Give me Hope, Johanna”
One of the fellows in this pub tonight was heavy into gangster rap. He rapped the Puff Daddy part over Stings”Watching you” even though they monitor did not display them. He busted out 50 cent’s “In The Club.” Alanis Morresette’s annoying voice has plagued me in every bar since getting to India, and tonight, although her voice was replaced with some British woman’s, it just made things worse. I loathe the song “Ironic”
To conclude the night recap, I admit that I was not as considerate as I could have been been. My guilty feet walked me over to a man with no rhythm and stole the mic away for the last song of Karaoke at TDS. In tribute to my friend back in the US, who worships George Michaels, and has been known to rock the song “Careless Whisper,” I hijacked the stage and put some much needed soul into this classic. I believe George Michael has gone down a tough road recently, a few trips to prison in addition to his semi tarnished reputation overall. I still think we owe him a thank him, at least a mach3, for sharing this song with us. I want to believe that the crowd at TDS thanked me for sharing the song I selfishly stole from another with them tonight. The highlight was when the host of the night did a memorable harmonizing bit with me at the end during the words “now that your gone.”
I believe that I did redeem myself tonight from the earlier performance, leaving the night on top, like Costanza. It will take a lot of convincing for me to change this status, and take the mic again, but then again I am off to Bombay tomorrow.
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