the spirit of karaoke

November 1, 2009

Why is it, when I blog I always end up writing about cheesy singing-related topics like Australian Idol and karaoke? Self-confessed karaoke tragic here. Yes, I am one of those people who, if you give me a glass of wine and a karaoke machine it’s hard to get me to stop. In fact I don’t really even need the glass of wine as an excuse (but often several are consumed along the way!)

Unashamed, I feel like writing a post about the spirit of karaoke, the philosophy of karaoke which I love so much. Basically it’s about anyone having a go, it’s about music for the sheer joy of it, never mind about talent, marketing, fashion or any of those unnecessary evils.

I feel that music has become such a commodity, in our materialistic world it’s just another product to be sold and make money. This results in our forgetting what it is to come together with other human beings and make music, imperfectly, for fun. This results in a kind of music fascism, that only certain styles which are in current fashion can be displayed in public. People develop a football team mentality.

Sure, I have no problem with talented musicians, I’m all for them. There’s nothing like a truly inspired singer, writer or group (Katie Noonan for example) who can remind us what heaven is supposed to be like. But I guess I’m a fan of community music, voices coming together and people all joining in. I’m sure in many cultures pre-TV, pre-internet, pre-commercialisation of everything it was the norm for people to sit around and sing together. Music was just part of the rhythm of life, the way people expressed their sadness and romance and grief and love and transcendence of the everyday. The way people formed community and came together. Try suggesting a singalong at your next dinner party and you are likely to be greeted by an embarrassed silence and hasty departure.

Why have people become so uptight? The majority of people I know, when asked to come to a karaoke night either a) think I’m joking b) are very, very busy c) sit uncomfortably on the sidelines or d) drink large amounts before even considering entering a stage.

Then there are the odd few crazies like me whose eyes light up. Who say “OK I’ll be there” and mark their diaries, and turn up, and keep singing, and stay late! We band together and form odd alliances and have wonderful outings. We spend time on ebay browsing karaoke machines and build up secret CD collections.

We experience judgment from the tight-lipped majority but inside our hearts are too busy rejoicing to care.