• Ah, a night out at the Empty Orchestra. It separates the (Boyz II) Men from the (Beastie) Boys. We're talking karaoke, a pastime this writer is enamored of. But for some, the idea of getting onstage to belt out a classic in front of judging eyes is tantamount to a circle of hell. Let's examine the character profiles of five people one might meet in a karaoke bar. (My favorite one, by the way: Boardwalk 11 in Palms, Los Angeles, California.)


    The Diva This feisty filly has one eye on the prize and another scouting the room in hopes that an A&R guy is present, just waiting to sign the next Mariah. Her talent will woo the crowd, but her (and sometimes his) addiction to melisma runs the risk of turning "The Greatest Love of All" into an "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida" length burden.

    The Old Timer A special breed of awesome, the old timer is a person in his golden years that looks enfeebled but ignites onstage. Tony Bennett and Gershwin standards are in his arsenal, always sung with a sincerity and romance that today's crooners can't top. The old timer is usually the most popular fella in the room because he reminds everyone of dear ol' Gramps. Except not as ornery.

    The Giggles Brigade Attack of the sorority girls! This female wolf pack, usually numbering five drunken pledges, ALWAYS SINGS THE SPICE GIRLS. It must be written in their house decree. They'll slur their way through the lyrics, secretly trying to outdo one another - except for the token shy one who got dragged up there. If there are feather boas available as props, you can bet they'll be wearing them.

    The Pleasant Surprise You won't be able to determine this character by sight alone. There are usually no indicators that the mousy gal in the corner is absolutely going to kick ass at an Eminem rap, or that the bulbous fellow with the buffalo wing sauce caking his mouth is going to put Stevie Wonder to shame. But it's these wonderful little miracles that make karaoke (and hell, "The Voice") totally worth sitting through our next archetype...

    The Oblivious Show Pony Just add alcohol, mix in with hubris, and you've got the most annoying of karaoke frequenters. The oblivious show pony tends to be a man or woman in their early 20s of common attraction that pretty much skates through life and worships Dane Cook. For the dudes, they'll bust out Smash Mouth's "All Star" or a Rage Against the Machine jam (because cursing in front of seniors and families is badass, yo!). The chicks will select Madonna's "Like a Virgin" or some Katy Perry number-- the more coquettish, the better. Especially cos that means they don't have to concentrate on their vocals ... which are usually on par with a cat in heat.

    - Melissa Bobbitt

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