One of my favorite parts of spending the majority of my time at the end of the bar here in Cleveland is when my local pub brings in Gary, the karaoke guy, and he starts playing songs and I watch drunken (and not so drunken) fools come up one after another and sing for my amusement.
Of course, as with most things, there is a dark side to karaoke, and I asked Gary to outline the seedier aspects of his business. He described to me the karaoke singers I see and what they’re actually like.
First, there are the CROONERS. These are the people who think they are doing a Frank Sinatra tribute, but end up sounding more like Harry Connick Jr. with a mouth full of shit and a rabid dog using their scrotum as a chew toy. They’re off key, too slow, too stupid to know the lyrics, or just Asian and trying to fit into American culture with something they fuckin’ started in the first place.
Secondly, there are the WEMEN. These are large groups of women who come up to belt out Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” or, God forbid, ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” because to do it alone for anyone of them is just too embarrassing. Of course, after their performance, these drunk chicks continue drinking as groups of men circle them like flies near a cow pie and then they become a date rape statistic somewhere between the back parking lot and the local Denny’s where they swore they would meet their friends because the slobbering drunken hillbilly who bought this Barbara Mandrell wanna-be her last drink was just “too fuckin’ hot to let go without a blow job.”
Next are the RISING STARS. These people actually have some talent, but no idea what to do with it. They come up and sing songs by Bon Jovi and Poison (because Gary doesn’t have anything more recent) and actually sound good. (Note: Good is relative in a bar. After 9 tall Black and Tans…good for some is a hot blonde with face Herpes, a bad lisp, and a gimpy leg that appears to have been mangled by a pit bull sometime in her teens. Don’t ask how I know this.) They return to their table, usually populated by people who look like the light scares them and they can’t wait to be locked back in the basement…but the rising stars are the turds that float to the surface in this singer treatment facility…only to be poked back under the surface after the night is over.
Every now and again you get a SOUL MAN who doesn’t necessarily sing “Soul Man” made famous by Sam and Dave and/or The Blues Brothers, but adds that (for lack of a better way of putting it) “flava” to the evening. Of course, in an all white city, in an all white bar, where most of the people are driving all white BMW’s…the SOUL MAN usually ends up sneaking out a back door after a crappy rendition of Young MC’s “Bust a Move.”
Lastly, Gary described to me where I fit in when I get up and sing “Rock this Town” by the Stray Cats or “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals. “McBourbon,” he says, “you are a PRETENDER.” This means I manage to do a good impression of a singer but have no actual singing ability what-so-ever, and I’m next in line to be a karaoke DJ.
And piss off if you think I’m some drunken Cleveland half-a-fag for singing karaoke. Sometimes the WEMEN like a sensitive guy who can sing. Such is the life of the man at the end of the bar. Until next time……drink until you catch up.