Monday, May 11, 2015

Bizarre Habits of People Who Sing Karaoke

This was always my favorite scene in The Cable Guy.  The movie was meh, but this scene was EVERYTHING.  Who would have thought that 10 years after this movie came out I'd be a karaoke host?  I remember this scene because it was so over the top.  To this day I've never seen anyone try to recreate it.  I have however seen some pretty off the wall stuff at karaoke and usually it's perpetrated by drunk people.  This post I want to focus on some of the weird habits I've noticed in people who come to karaoke.

"Give me Titanic!"

I have a ton of people who have no idea what the real name is of the songs they want to sing.  Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" is almost always submitted to me as "Titanic", "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash occasionally gets submitted as "I Hear The Train A'Comin'", every Christmas people ask me for "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire" when the song is actually called "The Christmas Song", and the list goes on.  Someone even took the liberty of comprising a list of songs people eternally get wrong.

"I don't know how to sing this."

I have a guy who comes to my Tuesday show.  He's always ready to ask me for a song, but ask me how many of them he actually sings.  I think he actually attempted one last night but 95% of the time somebody else will end up singing a song he chose while he manages a "yeah" or an "ooh" every once in a while.  Thing is I really REALLY hate to cut off a song because the singer decides to bow out.  It's like slamming the brakes in a car. 

"Can I sing with you?"

I have a rule: You don't get the second microphone unless you ask the person on stage singing if you can sing with them.  Normally it works out but everyone once in a while I get someone who wants to sing with EVERYBODY.  It can be a little intimidating to the on-stage singers.  What's worse is it puts me in a spot when I actually have to bump this person because in my rotation rules duets count as a turn for both singers.  People circumvent this rule by not submitting the name of their partner but after a while I get wise and adjust accordingly.

"Next up we have...where'd they go?"

There are people who tend to disappear on me.  And when I say disappear I mean left the building.  My rotation rules dictate they move to the bottom...(in my best Xerxes voice) but I am kind.

"Can't you bump me up?  I really have to go soon."

It's weird to me that people act like they don't understand the concept of a line or even a rotation.  In simple terms, the more people in the house who want to sing, the longer your turn takes to come back up.  The rotation rules I use (they're actually printed in the song books; nobody reads them) prioritize people who have not sung at all.  On busy nights, I try to stagger new people in with people already in the rotation but I will always lose people and in some instances entire groups because they feel like they aren't getting enough turns at bat. You'd be surprised how often though I get the excuse that someone needs to leave as a reasoning for getting bumped up.  Do you know any other line this excuse would fly?  Didn't think so.

"Why can't I hear him/her?"

This truly baffles me.  So I get someone on stage and have them do a mic check.  Great they sound good. Then I turn on their music and all of a sudden they turn into a dog whisperer!  I end up maxing the volume on their mic to the point of near squealing just to make them audible.  When the song's over, the mic is now way too loud.  This drives me freakin' nuts because I have to endure an entire song where everyone's giving me the "why don't you turn them up" look and I'm responding with my "It's not my fault!" eyes.  Speaking of squeal, you'd think a squeal would be a self correcting error (You're too close to the speaker!) but it's not.  Oh and on another note, why do people think holding a mic at chest level actually works?  You sing INTO the mic, not OVER it.

"Hey, remember me?  I was here last week/last month/last year!"

Full disclosure guys: If I don't see you regularly and we don't have some personal connection I WILL forget your name.  Sorry, I'm bad with names. I'm great with faces though so I can usually at least acknowledge that I know someone and occasionally I can finagle a name simply by asking them what name they want to use.  But still, I'll always get someone who makes it their mission to jump start my brain.  This has been successful exactly 0 times.  Consider on a busy night I take roughly 50-60 song requests and run through about 20-30 names.  It's a miracle I remember half the people I do now!


Good news: some songs trigger spontaneous stripping.  Bad news: it's usually by dudes.  At least the female members of the audience get to have fun.

"But that's not fair."

It still surprises me to this day when someone complains of not receiving fair treatment.  Here's a recent example.  This one lady came in with a bunch of her friends and proceeded to enter in requests for a bunch of songs.  I usually allow it with the caveat that we may not have time to get to every song.  She sings her songs, she sings backup on her friends songs, and she's even sung with people she just met at the bar.  When we get to the final song she has one song left in the rotation.  Meanwhile someone who has not sung at all came in and wanted a song.  Initially I told him I couldn't but given that I had a couple minutes to spare and I knew his song was short I allowed it.  The lady accused me of being unfair.  *sigh*  Sometimes you just can't win.

"I want to put in a song for..."

Most of my scheduling AND on-stage disasters start with these words.  I'm not sure of the proper term for it, but in gaming we call it a ninja invite.  The problem with this sentence is that it indicates that whatever name they are about to give me, that name either a) Doesn't want to sing, b) Won't get up to sing, c) On the off chance they do get up will 1) not know what song was submitted for them or 2) too drunk to care, and d) results in my wasting valuable time that other people could be singing in.  If you come to me and start your request like that expect me to ask you some pointed questions about the singer you intend to get on stage.

That's all I have for now.  I might revisit this topic and add more stuff later.  Until then, see you on stage!