“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met” is how Shakespeare Arms bar described on the website. It is everything a small town bar should be. It takes the waitress more than a minute to rattle off the names of beer they have on tap – very good sign! However, at the first inquiry into lagers vs. ales, she sends us over to the bartender.
Nick, the bartender, is actually why we are here. Over a year ago, looking for a watering hole after yet another training run, we end up Shakespeare Arms. I walk away impressed (and pleasantly watered). The bartender knows his stuff, likes talking about it and is incredibly generous with samples. This is the bar from the TV sitcoms that you come to, nod and say “Nick! The usual!”.
Today after a trail run, a waterfall dip and a good rolling in dust, I think Nick has exactly what we need.
The bar fills up noticeably throughout the night, and before we know it, a grey-haired wiry guy in a baseball cap is announcing karaoke. He’s been here every Sunday night for the past 20 years.
I have not done karaoke since undergrad, when we made usual appearances at Silver Spur, an adorably shady dive in Waterloo, Ontario where tables were sticky and waitresses’ voices hoarse.
Many songs were sung, and many lessons learned. Absorb the wisdom.
5 MISTAKES KARAOKE ROOKIES MAKE
1. pick a song that is too long
Trust me, people are here to have a good time and no one wants to hear (you sing) the 8-minute Stairway to Heaven from start to finish. However, if you are there to piss off the crowd, then Pink Floyd is definitely your band – lots of painfully long songs to choose from, including Echoes that clocks in at 23 minutes.
2. pick a rap song
Do not rap at a karaoke unless you are very good. Actually… do not rap at karaoke. It’s like trying to pick out the most appropriate night gown to a funeral – it just doesn’t work. If you are still going to rap, I suggest “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. At least everyone secretly likes that one. And it talks about bacon. [I bet you are checking the lyrics now, aren't you?] Bonus points for the hip-hop routine.
3. pick a screaming song
Thunderstruck by AC/DC. Just don’t. Please leave the good rock screaming to the likes of Bon Scott, and Dave Evans. Otherwise, the song ends with your sore throat, and our destroyed ear drums. Ouch. [If you are curious, here's a wiki on how to scream rock music. Maybe it will help. You know for next time, you want to bellow out TNT or something.
4. pick a song for yourself (rather than a song for the audience)
Don't be a buzzkill. I repeat, people are here for a good time. Not to listen to a college kid in the depressed stage of being drunk moan through "Creep" by Radiohead. Yes, you definitely "don't belong here".
Another classic scenario includes a sappy girl getting up to sing
"How Do I Live" by LeAnn Rimes, pointedly looking at some drunk idiot in the crowd. Not that I've ever done that or anything. "How do I breathe without you?"... It's easy. Inhale. Exhale. Move on.
5. pick a song you (you think) know
There are songs you know and there are songs you KNOW. Pick the latter. A song that you think you know because you heard it on the radio a bunch of times, and kind of like, will turn into quite an embarrasing act, as you realize that you have no idea about pace or inflections in the middle of the song.
This point becomes painfully obvious as Captain Craig and I bellow out the Lazy Song by Bruno Mars. Thankfully, it's one of those "zero consequence" risks, and the crowd cheers sympathetically. It's the Sunday of the long weekend, and tomorrow's calendar is deliciously empty, so the song is at least relevant.
THE FOLLOWING CAN WORK...
5. anything by Backstreet Boys (I may be biased here...)
4. Losing My Religion by REM
3. The Show Must Go On by Queen
2. Summer Nights from Grease
And to finish off, the ultimate karaoke song of all times...
1. I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
7 mile trail run
one-handed bicep curls… with beer