Friday, May 12, 2006

Fly Me To The Moon

They laughed, they cried, they applauded, they cried some more...

As I finally popped my karaoke cherry last night, two things became apparent. First, I have a deep, rich voice, with tones of mahogany and melted chocolate, of black coffee and rolling thunder. Secondly, I can't hit a note for toffee, well, not the right notes anyway. My audience was however infinitely patient and far too polite as I murdered song after song, deep into the hours of this morning. From Frank Sinatra to The Beatles, from The Verve to The Stones, crooners around the world stirred in their graves and those who were not already in their graves wished that they were.
It was however a surprisingly enjoyable evening and it was only with marginal modesty that I minded my faulty larynx.

Party World was the venue for my friend's birthday treat, and so, on a school night we arrived there at midnight. Karaoke out here is of no relation to Karaoke in the UK where I would not only have offended the ears of friends, but also of strangers in some theme pub full of rugby players trotting out Hey Jude.

Party World is a mix of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and the evil undertones of The 5000 Fingers of Dr T, a film that gave me nightmares as a child. It's like a luxurious hotel with several hundred private rooms on seven levels, all bedecked with leather sofas and a giant television connected to your interactive display panel through which you decide your fate. After midnight rooms become cheaper and you pay a fixed rate to sing your heart out till 6 in the morning while eating and drinking as much from the buffet as your diaphragm can cope with.

On arrival you are shown a safety video about what happens in a karaoke emergency, including where to find the gas masks (I kid you not!). Then, the evening is yours to eat, sing and sleep in your private room.

Terrified isn't quite the right word as there were also emotions of relief that I was about to face my biggest fear and finally have done with it. So, having 'sung' in front of an exceedingly small crowd I now realise that the nemesis was hidden in a more complex one and my next fear is that of singing in front of a big crowd. At least I now realise that they will be more afraid than I will.

Having said all that, it was actually a very enjoyable evening, some of the notes I sang happened to land in the right place though perhaps fewer than one might have expected through random chance. We stayed there till after three, by which point I couldn't produce another sound, having slaughtered a good 20 or 30 songs. To be honest, it was nice to realise that though I may not be able to control my voice enough to hit the right notes, with a lot of practice and some helpful pointers I may begin to sound OK. This could be the start of something truly terrible!

(I didn't get any photos but this guy's site has a reasonable selection of what a night at Part World is all about)


Anonymous said...

We knew you had it in you! Go for it Karaoke kid. Took me 40 years before they let me loose on singing and I discovered the mismatched notes were mostly ones of terror. You may not discover you're the next Paul Robeson but it is just such fun. Stand back world.

Michelle said...

Party World must be a chain. I visited one in Hangzhou and did a duet of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with my advisor.

At the Hangzhou Party World, we had a choice of only about fifty songs in English. The rest were in Chinese. The background videos for the English songs were wild-- many looked like hotel commercials with random white people in them.

Unknown said...

I wouldn't give warnings just yet. I'll be keeping this one for very small crowds only for now.

Hi Michelle,

Yes, Party World is a very big change now. I wonder who we'll manage to get there in July!

I guess there were a few hundred English tunes which was quite enough for me to muddle through. For many they clearly didn't have the copywrite so were slightly altered in plinky-plonky piano form. The backgrounds were also all centred around happy white couples in love and choosing wedding rings. This is particularly offputting when singing Bittersweet Symphony.

Shelley said...

Wow, Party World sounds surreal. The thought of spending the night in a place where I drunk myself silly, ate from a Chinese buffet, and sang badly in front of my friends is just mind-boggling. Talk about a walk of shame the next morning! :)

Unknown said...

Hi Shelley,

That would perhaps be true if it were not the case that everybody has undergone the same ritual humiliation. As it is, it's merely a bonding experience. Surreal, however, is a good description.

(correction to my first comment change->chain)