Vanishing Point A Bookand Websiteby Ander Monson


Karaoke 2

When I talk about karaoke, I mean the public, American, drunken kind. Private karaoke serves no one—even more than public karaoke (a case can be made for this too) it seems like pure indulgence. It entertains the fantasies of the singer. It is masturbation. Not bad, I suppose, and probably fun, I suppose, but hardly contributing anything to anyone.

Public karaoke, in a bar, probably, feels right. (Though I don't think it relevant whether the karaoke singer is drinking or drunk or not, though clearly lower inhibitions make for better karaoke. Rock, after all, does not reward the timid.)

Quality singing is not necessary for good karaoke. What we want is a performance. What we want is your commitment. What we want is for you to be one of us, but for a moment, not to be one of us at all, to be something else. We want transformation. We want the wizened woman at the bar who speaks to no one to step up and kill us all with Joan Jett, or, better, Dusty Springfield. We want the fat-ass former football player to step up, step by step, with some New Kids on the Block. We like the dudes when they sing duets together. They're not gay, they want us to know, but they can rock "I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" and they are justly celebrated.

Is it sort of like drunk American Idol? I guess it is a little. But the stakes are low, right? There's no judges (though there are karaoke contests, for instance the Talent Quest Karaoke Nationals) besides all of us.