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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Attack of The Endorphins
by Man from U.N.C.L.E. (guest blogger)

Perhaps I'm still under the effects of the natural opiates of this weekend's performances, but I'm feeling tremendously great so far this week. Sure it's only mid-afternoon Tuesday, but I hope this stupor continues through 'til Friday! See, I would guess a bunch of you will not understand the pleasures of making a fool of yourself in front of a large gathering of other supposedly humanoids, but since an early age it has been a passion of mine. I love performing!

So around the time I was finishing High School I bought the elementary version karaoke machine that has since been upgraded many times over. And in the ten years since, I now have amassed over an astounding 2,500 indelible song favorites in my karaoke library which I share with throngs of thrill seeking, self-deluded star wannabes at often wildly drunken functions for a small (read sizable) fee. (Hey, I'm a social worker - my career is basically pro bono - so I have to make up for it somewhere!) Other times, especially during the Holiday Season, I donate the use of my services, equipment and library to my client's for our annual Holiday Party as a "rehabilitative" incentive.

For those of you who have never had the nerve to try karaoke, there is something inately cathartic in singing your ass off. And get real! Everybody is a closeted performer! Some of you sharing the gift of song with only the appreciative criticism of your loofa sponge and bath gel as your audience, while others among you are classic car singers. Confess - you break into song quicker than Judy Garland in Wizard of Oz when one of your jams comes on while you're tooling to the grocery store for some Maggi Sauce. My developmentally disabled clients understand the freeing nature of music and can just dissolve past their limitations when they have the mic in their hands.

So getting back to this weekend, I KJed (karaoke jockeyed, not to be confused with KYed) a friend of a friend's friend's 40th birthday party bash. As the host of the festivities, it is my responsiblity to warm up the crowd with some lively tunes and demonstrate how awesome and professional even the least talented among the crowd will sound with the goal to get them to let their inhibitions go. Intoxicants also help.

So, as usual, I broke out some soul stirring R & B to get things started. Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours), and The Spinners' "I'll Be Around" are routinely well-received, showing both fast and slow tempo songs can be admirably performed. Then I turned things over to the crowd. Several grossly inebriated versions of "YMCA," "Brown-Eyed-Girl," "Celebration" and "I Will Survive" were to follow from the party attendees. One guy had seen Wayne's World one too many times and butchered "Bohemian Rhapsody". James Brown's "I Feel Good" was given an amazing rendition complete with choreography. But before things got broken - meaning both furniture, windows and James Brown's tibia - I took back over the mic for some more R & B standards. During this time the guests could find their way back to the booze and I could briefly regain control of things. Almost as cliched as "Celebration", Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" always works well as a sing along because everybody knows it. Then I segued into an incredible version, if I do say so myself, of "Drift Away", another sing along , then right into "Me & Mrs. Jones" and The Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain" that had people reaching for their Zippos. I really get off on those '60s and '70s soul tunes. I was feeling like Prince in Purple Rain!

After a brief intermission, the crowd had their turn again, unleashing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", a Madonna medley of "Like A Virgin", "Papa Don't Preach", and "Music", "Mack The Knife", and then some fellas felt like crooners and showed that there will really only ever be one Frank Sinatra. But the thrill is more infectious than Legionnaire's Disease. Speaking of Prince, I unveiled "Little Red Corvette" and I finished things off with a duet with the guest of honor's
husband (who was to afraid to go solo) singing "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" for her.

Now there are some amazingly talented karaoke singers that I've come across in ten years and some ultimately dreadful ones. I think the dreadful ones could become better if they had the benefit of virtual 24 hour access to practice karaoke in their basements like I do. I'm sure all of you could proudly strut your stuff with enough rehearsal and serious car tunes!!! What would be your signature song?


Nonny Nu said...

OMG, Man from U.N.C.L.E.!! I can't believe that, after all these years (has it been years yet?), I never figured you for a KJ!! That is just too cool for school, man! Wow, that takes some guts. I could NEVER do that. NEVER! I am, however, a car singer because that's the only time I'm really alone. I don't share with my loofa because there are "people" in the house. And, by "people," I mean Mr. Nonny Nu. I know! I'm really that shy. I'm actually a very shy person who doesn't do well in big groups, but I'm working on it.

Anywhoo, so signature song, huh? Ummmm...I don't know what would be my signature song, but I have been working on several on the way to and from work:

Material Girl (Madonna)
Different Drum (Linda Ronstadt)
Help! (Beatles)
(Build me up) Buttercup (Temptations?)
One Fine Day (Carole King version)
I Will Survive (Donna Summers)
Tainted Love (Soft Cell)

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

NN, Yeah it's the duality of my nature. Good guy do-gooder from 9 AM - 5 PM, all-night rabel-rouser the rest of the time (when I'm not making dinner, carting my little bro to/from hapkaido, paying bills, posting on the internet, saving the world, scolding little bro for failure to study, and sleeping). Really, though, my karaoke career has tailed off since my brother came to live with me. Still I get tired of being cerebral and empathic all the time and karaoke is a super way to cut loose (and it's surprisingly aerobic). Take that, FM's spaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!

I really get into the gravelly voiced soul singers and love to put some grit in my voice. "Hold On (I'm Coming)" by Sam and Dave, "Try A Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding (think Duckie in Pretty In Pink only without the lip synching) are a couple more of my favorites. Also I do one helluva "The Thong Song" by Sisqo. I'll try to send you a video of that one!!! (All without chemical alteration, I must add!)

I recommend that you build up your comfort level by trying to sing meekly in the shower while Mr. Nonny Nu is in the house. Soon you'll be belting "Wind Beneath My Wings" Divine Miss NN style. You have already made solid other choices to round out your show's set. You have a good mix to appeal to all segments of the NN fan club. I, personally, give you particular high marks for Tainted Love wo oh oh oh oh Tainted Love.

There's really no reason to be shy. There's a wild singer in you waiting to be released!!! LET HER GO!

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

By the way, why wasn't there an Asian Village People Person?

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

Do The Village People need to be reprimanded or commended for not practicing Affirmative Action?

Nonny Nu said...

Nowadays, AA works AGAINST Asians in the collegiate setting, so I'm not surprised that The Village Peeps didn't have an Asian People person.

Okay, I'll try (Build Me Up) Buttercup this evening and keep you posted on how that goes. So far, only Sushi and The Jolly Green Giant (my car) have been beneficiaries of the Nonny Nu Karaoke Experience.

EDS-1275 said...

i can't answer 'What would be your signature song?' as i'm sure you're aware. but, if you'll permit, here's my direction:

-fearless - floyd
-green river - ccr
-wasn't born to follow - the byrds
-crazy train - ozzy
-riding along in my automobile - chuck berry
-white room - cream (makes me mistly)
-ashes to ashes - bowie
-dreaming of me - depeche mode
-wuthering heights - kate bush
-you make loving fun - fleetwood mac
-are friends electric - gary newman
-already forgotten - the grabs
-woodstock '69 national anthem - jimi hendrix
-i'm just an old chunk of coal - john anderson
-river - joni mitchell
~led zeppelin ~
-ride my see-saw - moody blues
-heart of gold - neil young
-spirit of radio - rush
~the who~
-booksmart devil - silversun pickups
-illusions - cypress hill

...and all things from the heart, because

o/` i-aye-aye-aye-aye-i have become...comfortably numb. o/`


Cl. Panic said...

If you happen to have a "friend" who suffers from DKC (Drunk Karaoke Courage), the gift of a personal karaoke machine and some cheap wine does wonders... and provides ample entertainment to the rest of the guests. (And makes later gift-giving easy; just add to their Karaoke collection).

One friend suffered from a serious case of DKC. At one holiday party we were even entertained by wardrobe changes between songs, and a "duet" with her cutout of Mr. Clinton.

Ah the memories...

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

eds-1275, Very ecclectic song list. I'm wondering if you would also play air guitar and make faces while performing the Hendrix selection? And how's your range for the Kate Bush?

cl. panic, karaokism (the addiction to karaoke) and alcoholism (the addiction to alcohol) go hand in hand. Sort of like those dually addicted folks are to uppers and downers. Ah, the memories...

EDS-1275 said...

"and a "duet" with her cutout of Mr. Clinton."


EDS-1275 said...

"I'm wondering if you would also play air guitar and make faces while performing the Hendrix selection?"

well, i won't play air guitar, but i can give you a little rhythm on a real guitar. and i'll damn sure make faces during a hendrix session, 'cause the way that man expressed himself through his guitar, well, i can't help but break up while listening.

"And how's your range for the Kate Bush?"

hah! oh, i think you probably already know the answer to that one. :-)