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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

This is my life -- in my mind.
  • This is my life -- in my mind.

You'd best prep your favorite Barry Manilow, Nelly and Journey songs, because you're entrenched in National Karaoke Week.

Seriously, this is a thing; I'm not making it up just to jump back into the karaoke-writing game, though it's sure convenient. National Karaoke Week happens through Saturday, and it's a BFD in some parts of the country. Wait, scratch that -- it's apparently a BFD in some parts of the world, as this video from Britain shows:

Most of them have their own karaoke systems at home? Wow, those Brits are hardcore.

Here in St. Louis, we've got karaoke joints out the wazoo, so in honor of National Karaoke Week, I recently challenged myself to hit up a different sing-along bar every night for an entire work week. I like to pretend that my life is actually a really long episode of Glee, and I figured I'd emerge from the five-day challenge with better jazz hands than ever. Besides, becauseI host karaoke at least once a week, I thought I had the stamina for a few days of singing and might find a few new favorite bars. What could go wrong?

Plenty, as it turns out.

First, I set some parameters for my challenge venues:

  • The location must be east of I-170.
  • Karaoke must start before 11 p.m.
  • I can't have visited more than three times.
  • No smoking inside.
  • Performing "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette would be my musical constant.

What follows is my diary of a week containing both karaoke joy and karaoke hell, complemented by Glee gifs. I should note that my words are the immediate post-karaoke ramblings of an increasingly exhausted madwoman and shouldn't be taken as straight-up professional reviews.

Night 1: Joey B's on the Landing, 710 N. Second Street

Bias: I generally hate everything on the Landing. Chance of return: What Mercedes said.

Not one for tourists or bachelorette party queens, I'm not thrilled about going anywhere along our cobblestone riverfront. I am, however, excited by the 9 p.m. karaoke start time that a Joey B's staff member told me about over the phone -- I could do my song within an hour and get the hell out, right?

Seated at a front table, my friends and I watch the KJ fiddle with his system before our eyes lock onto signs saying "Dancing on the bars is at your own risk." Shit, is this going to turn into Coyote Ugly? We chuckle, chat about work and continue our waiting game, confused as to why it's now 9:45 p.m. with no sign of songbooks -- or our KJ, for that matter. The wascally wabbit keeps slipping away to what we can only assume is Joey B's secret lair of decadence. Drinks empty, we finally flag down a waitress, who says that karaoke "should start" at "maybe" 10:30 or 11 p.m. Sigh. I hate life.

At 10:25 p.m., our KJ returns from his 34th smoke break to finally address the crowd, mumbling something unintelligible before heading outside yet again. This time he's kind enough to leave us with a slideshow of Joey B's event photos, Coyote Ugly gifs and the ear-cutting scene from Reservoir Dogs (WTF?), all set to the Go-Go's "We Got the Beat." A brilliant friend observes, "This is the place where dreams go to die."

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