Liquid Courage: The Art of Karaoke, The Awesome Inner Doofus, and Why I’m Miffed

Being an IT Professional of inimitable self-aggrandizement, you’d think I’d have mastered the art of incremental backups. That needs to be said because my last blog entry — all about music, bands, artistry, concerts, tidal shifts of music consumption and appreciation over the past 15 years and why I think The Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way was one of the great pop songs of the 20th Century — got swallowed up by a great corporate filter glitch and was lost for eternity. Even my Auto-Save functionality failed. Two hours of work, thousands of words, just gone. Finished. Vanished. Eradicated from existence. I had emptied my mind (just as you might empty your pockets) and transposed such beautifully composed thoughts to intricate artistic prose of much mirth and mayhem, only to be obliterated in quanta as if they were zapped by Darkseid’s Omega Effect.

It took me awhile to recompose myself. I’m still not there yet. So instead I’m gonna take a a different road, borrowed from my friend and blogger Emma Moon (whose blog One Stop Awesome is all that and more), and turn this into a discussion about what songs I like to sing at karaoke, and why I sing them, and why you should care, which is not at all, but keep reading anyhow because what else are you gonna do while waiting at Jiffy Lube for your Signature Service? Fruit Ninja?? Get outta here…

I start this discussion off with this rather pithy posit: there’s a seriously unhealthy relationship going on between late-middle-aged white men and the goddamn Eagles (and to a lesser extent Bob Seger, but baby steps). The Eagles represent the epitome of a band which I once loved and now can’t barely stand even typing their name. Boots and I were at the local pub a week and a half ago, in the span of 40 minutes three separate late-middle-aged white guys got up to the karaoke podium and sang Peaceful Easy FeelingLyin’ Eyes, and Desperado. Fucking Desperado. Seinfeld already did a riff on this song, and I have to concur with my strongest possible… concurrence. Coma-inducing swill. Feh!

OK I got that out of my system. I got it out of my system even BETTER the first time I typed it (refer to first paragraph), but there we have it. So anyway: karaoke. What’s the appeal there? I was never a fan or a participant until seven years ago at a hotel bar in Mumbai, India. Enough of us got drunk to encourage two of us (myself include) to get up on stage and belt out a tune. My friend Cathy performed Madonna’s Like A Prayer, and I managed to get out a semi-respectable version of Bryan Adams’s Summer of ’69. If there wasn’t a river of Scotch flowing through my veins, there’s no way in hell that ever would have happened. But there you have it: Liquid Courage. Funny how that works.

Since then, we’ve become anywhere between sorta fascinated and completely obsessed. Karaoke used to be an every Friday night affair at a local bar, where we’d meet friends and make new friends and watch everything humanity had to offer join together in song and carousing. If we’re in another city/town for a weekend and need an evening’s entertainment, we look for a local karaoke night. Sometimes this has led to hilarious results, especially if you’re in a real rednecky town at a real rednecky bar and you decide to serenade the crowd with your best Air Supply rendition. I’ve done this. Went over like gangbusters… gangbusters, I tell you!

For me… I don’t take it too seriously, if at all. It’s silly performance, isn’t it? The Art of “Hey… Dig Me!” The appeal, for me anyhow, is that allows you to let out your Awesome Inner Doofus without fear or inhibition. Let’s face it, society poo-poo’s anyone who even hints at unleashing the Awesome Inner Doofus… which is entirely when karaoke becomes that much more important. If some dude in a Biker Jacket with a wooden eye and four teeth and fresh scars from his last incarceration tattoo is left in tears of radiant joys from your soul-rendering rendition of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, you must be doing something right. Just make sure you keep the car engine running…

It’s also what makes karaoke even more lame when people take ever-so-seriously, as if they were auditioning for some TV reality competition program. It totally brings down the make-out room. Let’s face it, if you’re in a bar full of rowdy, happy, silly people, and you get up to the mic and start belting out The Greatest Love Of All or Wind Beneath My Wings, and then have the temerity to feel surprised when the temperature of the room drops by several degrees Kelvin, there’s no hope for you yet. Sheesh. And speaking of which — can we please call a moratorium on that Before He Cheats monstrosity? I get how it’s this spurned woman entitlement anthem of like all-time, but familiarity doesn’t just engender contempt; we’re talking a full on loathing that’s reserved for such concepts as Pol Pot or The Olive Garden.

Perhaps I’m being too judgmental. Everyone plays the “Hey…Dig Me!” game for their own reasons. My Awesome Inner Doofus approach is what keeps it interesting to me, because God knows I can’t sing all that great. I have a pretty deep voice and a range of roughly, oh, let’s say three notes. Maybe four. But I can nail those three or four notes REALLY damn well.

So without further ado, I present to thee:

Hokeyboy’s Kickass Kompilation of Karaoke Klassics!

  1. Secret Agent Man — Johnny Rivers. This is my signature tune. If you’re at a bar in South FL and they have karaoke and someone’s singing this with a side of awesomesauce, odds are it’s me.
  2. Little Sister — Elvis. I think I do The King proud with this one.
  3. Ice Cream Man — Van Halen. Hook ’em in with the acoustic blues, keep ’em around with teh rawk.
  4. Jailbreak — Thin Lizzy. Channeling my inner Phil…
  5. The Boys Are Back In Town — Thin Lizzy. Often this is the ONLY Lizzy song they have. Sadly.
  6. Turn The Page — Metallica. NOT the Bob Seger version. I got enough aggravation.
  7. Lost In Love — Air Supply. This always kills. ALWAYS. Yacht Rock for life!
  8. Hey Hey What Can I Do — Led Zeppelin. Gotta watch it with the “keep ballin!” outro that no one but Robert Plant can do.
  9. Beauty School Dropout — Grease. Always gets the Cougars in the crowd a swayin’ and a swoonin’.
  10. Run To The Hills — Iron Maiden. Bruce Dickinson is inimitable. So you gotta put your own spin on this.
  11. Beth — Kiss. Used to make our bartender Jane go all mushy-eyed!
  12. I Was Made For Lovin’ You — Kiss. Complete with Paul Stanley falsettos AND disco poses.
  13. Pink Houses — John Cougar Mellencamp. I tried hitting the high notes once. ONCE…
  14. Don’t Change — INXS. Perfectly in my range!
  15. Jumpin’ Jack Flash — Rolling Stones
  16. Sympathy For The Devil — Rolling Stones
  17. Asshole — Dennis Leary. Sung with conviction. Asshole and proud of it.
  18. Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) — The First Edition. The Dude abides.
  19. Chocolate Salty Balls — South Park. The look of horror on some old bag’s face by the time I was finished with this one.
  20. Celluloid Heroes — The Kinks. One of my alltime favorite tunes, but a long one. Gotta gauge the crowd before I do it.
  21. Diamonds on the Inside — Ben Harper
  22. And Your Bird Can Sing — The Beatles. Duet with Boots. I love when she does the Susanna Hoffs take.
  23. If I Were A Carpenter — Johnny Cash & June Carter. My favorite Boots duet. I made her learn it so we could sing it together. 🙂
  24. Cumbersome — Seven Mary Three. Yeah yeah, I know. Eek. But swear to God, this song is perfect for my vocal range.
  25. Drunker Than Me — Trent Tomlinson. Always dedicated to the drunk girls in the bar. They always cheer.
  26. The Real World — Matchbox 20. Not my favorite of songs but it’s in my range and can usually pick up the crowd when old farts are doing slow Sinatra songs and drunk farts are doing weepy Country songs.
  27. In America — Charlie Daniels Band. Who doesn’t want to channel their inner right wing blowhard? God knows I do.
  28. Roller Derby Queen — Jim Croce
  29. New York Groove — Ace Frehley. It’s a bouncy number.
  30. I Love It Loud — Kiss. Threeway with Boots and Shyla. Back and forth on the verses, unite on the choruses. Totally rocks \m/
  31. Love Shack — The B-52s. Our second threeway number. I go full homo on the Fred Scheider lines. You have to.
  32. The Immigrant Song — Led Zeppelin. Definitely have to falsetto the Viking yells, and I do the final verse one octave down. Otherwise, a hoot.
  33. High Enough — Damn Yankees. Another threeway number with Boots and Shyla, one which we try to always close with.
  34. Heroes — David Bowie. It always stinks when I want to do the full version and the KJ only has the 3-minute single. Grr.
  35. Anna (Go To Him) — The Beatles. Cover of the awesome Arthur Alexander classic, great for getting your soul on.
  36. With A Little Help From My Friends — The Beatles
  37. Nowhere Man — The Beatles. Beatles songs aren’t easy for someone who has a low register, but Nowhere Man manages to stay in my range. Mostly.
  38. Good — Better Than Ezra. Always dug this 90s tune. I’m a sucker for good dopey pop.
  39. Rosealia — Better Than Eztra. Although I liked this one better, it’s harder to sing.
  40. Everybody Wants You — Billy Squier. Duet with Shyla. Give it up for alcohol! Sssss…
  41. Suffragette City — David Bowie. Another Shyla duet. Her classic fuckup of the “Wham Bam thank you Ma’am!” line is beyond epic.
  42. Cowboy — Kidd Rock. With Shyla again. “I ain’t straight outta Compton; I’m straight outta Welleby!!”
  43. Jim Dandy — Black Oak Arkansas. Another Shyla duet. Complete with duck walk.
  44. Dirty White Boy — Foreigner. Always get strange looks when I do this one…
  45. Mr. Brownstone — Guns N’ Roses. Done perfectly, if I say so myself. I just don’t go up one octave like Axel does at the end of the song.
  46. Cross-Eyed Mary — Jethro Tull
  47. Ghost Riders in the Sky — The Outaws. A well-timed “YEE-HAW!” after the chorus can do wonders.
  48. New World Man — Rush. Haven’t done this one in a long time. It’s fun to sing but always gets an indifferent response.
  49. Macho Man — The Village People. I did this SO damn convincingly a couple of trannies called me “gaaaaaaaaaay” after I was done. I think that’s a compliment?
  50. Don’t Look Back In Anger — Oasis. Used to be done as a trio with two buddies. Not gonna happen again anytime soon.
  51. Close My Eyes Forever — Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne. Obviously I’m singing the Ozzy parts only with my friend Yolie.
  52. Kiss An Angel Good Morning — Charlie Pride. Apropos, don’t you think?
  53. Sweet Transvestite — Rocky Horror Picture Show. With all the Tim Curry affectations I can muster. I *will* play Frank in a floorshow one day…
  54. Higher — Creed. Early 90s overplayed swill with yarling vocals and insipid lyrics? Yeah but again, right in me register. Oy.
  55. 867-5309/Jenny — Tommy Tutone. There’s always a girl named Jenny in the crowd who screams for this 80s chestnut.

There’s a ton more than I sing regularly, sung once or twice, or tried regretfully and buried deep in my memory as to not relive the horror ever again. But this will give you an idea of how I approach that 3-6 minutes at a mic. Which is with all the gravitas it deserves. Which is none at all.

Support your Awesome Inner Doofus.

2 thoughts on “Liquid Courage: The Art of Karaoke, The Awesome Inner Doofus, and Why I’m Miffed

  1. While I’m not much of a fan, I agree with you on that one. Phenomenal video, too. I remember when all the hoopla erupted over it back in 1989. People were pretending to be outraged that Madonna usurped Christian iconography for pop culture purposes. They were REALLY PO’ed that she had Jesus portrayed by a sensual black man. OOPS.

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