I've been itching to do a solo karaoke run for awhile.Singing with friends is always a blast, but most of my crazier karaoke nights have happened lone wolf. Last Friday I hit Hula Hula in Queen Anne and it blew me away. As far as seven night a week karaoke joints go, this is the best in town. The entire place is completely devoted to karaoke.
Hers is the grass skirt the Karaoke Korrespondent pulls up for a game of peekaboo each and every night.
I got there at eight and it was still pretty mellow. There were only a couple tables of people in the lower stage area. I was immediately impressed by the stage. It's set up in the center of the back wall with scaffolds on each side that hold the monitors, lights, sirens, and bubble and confetti machines. Behind the stage is a huge projector screen. To the left of the stage is the KJ station, and there's a prime table set up just to the right. What really put things over the top for me was the shelf they had to store the catalogs - four full rows filled with books organized by artist and title.
I grabbed a book and planted myself at the bar that divides the two areas. It's a great spot to watch the show because it's above all the tables, you're facing the screen, and the bar is right behind you. I was set.
The books are very well organized and not beat to shit like most other places. The artist names were enlarged and in bold letters, which made it really easy to whip through the pages. I didn't want to take any risks since I knew this could easily be my only number, so I kept my focus on the 80s. It took some time, but I finally settled on the Joe Jackson classic "Steppin' Out." As soon as I wrote it down the gal sitting next to me looked over and asked me what I picked. I told her Joe Jackson and it didn't seem like she knew who that was.
The KJ started setting up around 8:30. The big screen started displaying a list of karaoke "DOs & DON'Ts". For example: DO have a good time, DO sing nice and loud, DON'T put up more than one request at a time, DON'T get up and sing unless the singer asks you to. Most of it is common sense, but it's a pretty necessary reminder for drunk people.
I handed in my slip to the KJ. His name was Mikey and he was very welcoming. When I returned to my stool, I offered the girl and her friend my catalog. Her friend took the book and she started chatting me up. Normally I like to go incognito to these places, but I spilled the beans that I was the Karaoke Korrespondent right away. It's the first time I ever got to use that line.
The festivities started with Mikey singing the opening number. He scurried around every area of the bar checking the sound levels as he sang a country ballad called "She Said Yes." He had a very nice voice, but it was nothing compared to what was in store.
Early on there was a group of forty-something Asian dudes sitting at the table stage-side that delivered non-stop crowd favorites. One of them did nothing but Billy Idol. I was called up around the fifth singer and was very proud of my performance. I'd never done the Joe Jackson song before, so I was a little worried; but as soon as I confirmed it was comfortably in my range, I absolutely knocked it out of the park. The tiny monitors on each side and the big monitor above the bar are perfectly placed, so it's not so obvious that you're reading from them.
This place has the most talented collection of female singers I have ever seen. There was a stretch where it seemed like every performance outdid the next. It started with a lady that looked like she was pushing 70 that sang an amazing rendition of Norah Jones' version of "Cold Cold Heart." Then there was a gal that rocked the house with Oasis' "Don't Look Back In Anger". The women were gorgeous, too. This super cute little half-asian hippie chick with glasses sang "Heavy Things" by Phish. Two thumbs up for the obscure song selection--and for being hot.
By this time I'd made friends with the gals, Karann and Sarah, who were sitting with me at the mid-bar. Karann challenged me to sing a song of her choice. I agreed, but told her it had to be a song I was comfortable with. Her first request was "Cupid," but I told her Sam Cooke was way out of my league. Her next choice was "Africa" by Toto. I knew the song well, but never sung it before because the chorus was way too tough to handle. I agreed to do it because we could have gone all night trying to find something.
I noticed most of the songs had video accompaniment, which meant they are still using a lot of laser discs. But after taking a closer look at KJ Mikey's set-up, he did control things on a computer as well. Some of the words on the screen got a bit jumbled up at times, but the music never cracked. One really nice touch as I watched all these hot women sing was the occasional soft core porn that was thrown up on the big screen. Nothing major, just basic stuff like a naked chick riding a dude, or a bare-assed sideways shot of a dude standing up with his hands on his hips as you see a gal's face bobbin'.
The insanely awesome chick singers just kept coming. All my time in karaoke bars, I've only seen perfect harmony pulled off for about ten seconds of one song. A couple gals got up and sang Wilson Philips' "Hold On," and it was jaw-droppingly good. The best female performer came right after a super drunk chick got the entire crowd riled up and singing along with "Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora. The place was on fire, and this gal poured the gasoline with an unbelievable performance of "Because the Night." Not only did she kick the living shit out of the song, she also perfectly mimicked what was going on the video screen above as she sang it. It was something else.
There was one dude that stuck out amongst all these killer chicks. It was a goofy guy with mutton sideburns and a curly black mullet. When he came on stage and the screen showed he was about to sing "Fields of Gold" by Sting, I was positive he was going to mess around and suck, but it was actually remarkably good. His tone sounded even better than Sting's. Karann told me a lot of the singers are professional theater performers that come in to unwind and show off. I totally believe it.
It took a couple hours for my Toto pick to get called, and I handled it pretty well. I've had a cold for a couple weeks, and it actually enabled me to reach the notes. I was worried the song would be boring,but it totally got the crowd singing along; and when I looked over at Mikey, he was smiling and dancing along. I would have been really bitter if I didn't deliver at this place.