Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blame Canada

Or, blame it on the gin and peer pressure. I met up with traveling friends last night, and with their friends as well. After a nice Indian dinner in the Valley, we headed to a karaoke bar. Turns out there's another gay bar in LA I haven't been to. Who knew? But we had a good time, and I got coaxed into singing. One problem with that is that LA is full of frustrated performers, so the quality level of karaoke, in my experience, is rather high out here with some hilarious exceptions.

It's not super hard to coax me into singing casually, but I'm not much of a soloist. I tend to get stiff on stage and freak out, so I like to sing with other people. I've done trios and sextets and choral music, but I really don't sing solo. Karaoke is extra weird because I might know 80% of a song really really well, but of that 80% I probably have 10% of the words wrong, and the other 20% will trip me up. Improvising is also not one of my native or well developed skill sets. (Also why I'm generally quite truthful, I'm not quick enough to lie well - that and it rarely occurs to me that I could or should.) At any rate, karaoke makes me nervous because I'm enough of a singer that I want to do well and can do well, but unpracticed enough at solo work that my ability to hold a whole song is rather questionable. And since I should be able to do better...I wasn't sure I'd have fun if I didn't do reasonably well.

One thing in my favor for this place is that most of the music I'm drawn to is also big with gay British men. If the GBMs liked it, I probably did too. I only found that out maybe 6 years or so after my tastes were set, but there you have it. So I considered doing a Pet Shop Boys song last night, PSB karaoke at a gay bar being a "perfect storm" according to one of our guys. But it's been a while since I'd done anything they had on their list (Nightlife is the album in current rotation, mostly for the song "You only tell me you love me when you're drunk"). I could have done Death Cab for Cutie's "I will follow you into the dark" (quiet) or the Indigo Girls "Galileo" (won't net me a date of my preferred gender), plus they and other choices were too mellow. I couldn't coax anyone into doing the Carpenters "Top of the World" as a duet either and I didn't want to be the one to cause drunks to cry.

Showtunes would work, except it turns out I don't know many. Most of my current showtune knowledge is from Drag Queen Theater, not Broadway. I do know most of the music to Anything Goes, but it's been years (decades) since I've sung any of the songs all the way through with verse and chorus both. Plus, I really wasn't drunk enough to go over the top with "Blow Gabriel Blow".

Despite singing the chorus in a different octave every time, my friends assured me I did a good job with "Blame Canada" from the South Park movie. Of course, they're my friends and want me to feel good. Since I had drunk enough to compromise my short term memory, I'll choose to believe them. It was actually a shorter song than I'd remembered which was nice. The added bonus was that I went directly after one of the hilarious exceptions, not the Patty LaBelle mimic. My friends got up and did "Monster Mash" which can mostly be spoken, and swore it was the longest version of the song they'd ever encountered. Fortunately our group did contain at least one seasoned karaoke singer so we were able to lay claim to some talent from our table.

No hangover, but I did sleep to noon without restlessness meaning I feel awake now for about the first time this week. And my friends are winding their way back to San Diego, for which I'm a mite jealous. I'll have to conjure up another San Diego trip soon. After the cabinets and closet get assembled.

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