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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Five St. Louis Karaoke Bars in Five Days: The Diary of a Sing-Along Addict

Posted By on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 7:50 AM

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I give up on Huey and put in a few well-known songs for our table. I'm called up to the little platform just fifteen minutes later, not for Alanis but for KT Tunstall's "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree." As I sing under the bright lights, I notice that the mic sounds fine, but it's hard to hear the music from the stage. The KJ uses the same software that I do, though, so that's neat. I finish my song, the three people paying attention clap, and my friends are called up in succession. We hand the KJ another batch of songs and try to make up for the bar's general lack of whooping when other folks sing. But then this happens:

After two hours, we're ready to throw our Latin songbook at someone's head. Instead of keeping to a rotation, the KJ has elected to bring up the same handful of people over and over. Worse, we're subjected to four duets in a row built around a certain person. As a KJ, I understand stacking your singers a little bit for easy transition, but this is ridiculous. With only ten performers in the joint, you should be able to spread the love among groups and make the night a little more inclusive. Two of my friends leave before singing a second song, but I promise myself that I'll see this thing through. I'm finally called up again at 11:39 p.m. for "Lovin' Every Minute of It," but I can't see most of the words because a woman keeps leaning over the monitor to chat with the KJ. My two remaining friends are called by midnight, and then we get the heck out of Dodge.

Night 5: My own karaoke gig. It's a secret to everybody.

Bias: I'm Grandmaster B every Friday. Chance of return: High, as long as they pay me. A dolla makes me holla.

Guys, I'm spent. I'm not exactly looking forward to another late night, but I sure am glad to be back in my home bar after all this craziness. It's been a long week of karaoke and drinking and crying and exhaustion, and I'm ready for it all to be over. I plan for an evening of somber '90s ballads until a few friends show up to pump up the jam. Combine those guys with a surprise wedding party, and my plans to wallow disappear; suddenly, we've got ourselves a rockin' party! SAD FACE BE GONE!

I took on this karaoke week experiment to Glee-ify my nights, see if I really could make it through five straight evenings of soulful singing and perhaps find a new favorite bar or two. The experiment wasn't a complete failure (Honestly, there's a karaoke joint out there for everyone; some of the places I visited might not be my style, but you may love them), but the end result was a bit more like The Wizard of Oz than I'd anticipated:

"If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard, because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with."

Happy National Karaoke Week, everyone!

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