Everyone's got a favorite.
Last week I made a vow to broaden my horizons and punch up my arsenal with songs beyond my Classic Rock/80's comfort zone. The first step was to hike up the music intake so I listened to the Sirius 90s channel all week. I know just as much music from this era as I do any other, so I figured I'd rack up ideas. But as songs came on, I shot them down one by one.
Everyone's got a favorite.
Early 90s pop (Color Me Bad, New Kids, Gerardo) is too ridiculous, grunge is too earnest, mid-90s alternative (Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Fuel) is poser shit, and mid-to late 90s pop (Dave Matthews, Sugar Ray, Third Eye Blind, Goo Goo Dolls) is douche-cheesy. I'll sing that stuff in the privacy of my own car (and love it) but wouldn't be caught dead singing any of it in public.
I decided to hit a spot with a younger crowd and see if they could make any of those songs work. Ohana in Belltown was the first place that came to my mind. I'd been planning on checking out the karaoke there for months, but they only do it on Sundays (big TV night for me). I figured, not only would there be a lot of performers in their 20s, but they'd definitely be singing stuff I don't normally hear.
When I took my spot at the bar at 9, the restaurant was still packed with the dinner crowd. To my immediate left sat two girls (one cute) speaking Portuguese to each other, and to the right was a "mestizo" Filipino kid and his girlfriend. Our bartender was a tall Hawaiian-looking dude named Brent that I could tell would provide some good laughs as soon as my (late-night happy hour, $3) Pilsner Urquells soaked in.
They started setting up for karaoke at 9:30. I grabbed a book and brought it back to the bar. The cute Brazilian gal sitting next to me noticed me reading it so it got my wheels turning. I wasn't planning on drinking hard since it was Sunday, but I immediately ordered a shot--and then another five minutes later. The only Cazadorez they had was Blanco (tequila aged under two months) and it went straight to my head. The guy to my right ordered up chicken adobo. It came with this sticky white rice and the way I could tell this kid was half flip was how naturally he scooped it with his fingers and shoveled it into his mouth. The chicken smelled so good I wanted to snake the drumstick from his plate when he wasn't looking. If my mind wasn't already in drinking mode, I would have totally fired up an order for myself.
The bar filled in around ten just as the karaoke was starting. The Sounders game at Qwest had just ended. I got a big kick out of Brent busting supreme chops on his buddy for buying a jersey. The KJ was a gal with a rockin' voice and she opened the night with "I Wanna Come Over" by Melissa Etheridge. The next five songs performed were "New York State of Mind," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Addicted to Love," "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" so I was way off on my assumption this place would be dominated by younger singers singing new songs. It made me happy to know this music is what a real karaoke bar is about and I didn't have to change a thing.
I was completely loose and happy with the pick I had up. After I found my second number I closed the book. That's when the Brazilian gal asked if I she could check it out. I handed it over and she asked me the follow up question I was hoping she would ask, "What are you singing." I told her something from Lionel Richie and we started chatting a bit but her girlfriend cut everything short. She could tell I was moving in. Before I had the chance to try and engage her, too, she already told the girl she wanted to leave. I took my frustration out on the microphone and delivered a super sweet rendition of "My Love." The crowd loved it. I knew I'd nail it, but what I found extra fun about that number was that I could sing it in a Country style.
One karaoke innovation worth noting was a simple fun thing the KJ added to the show. She did a survey and asked all the singers who their favorite Beatle was. As a Beatles fan I got a huge kick out if it. I was really interested to see how far out in first John would finish, and who would win between Paul & George, and if the people that picked Ringo were being sincere. One blowhard picked Billy Preston and I was happy for the opportunity to be annoyed by it. I wasn't sure if it was something she already did or she just came up with it that night, but a music poll like that needs to be done every week.