This was posted a few days ago at Slate, and I am going to refrain from making jokes about the murder of eight people karaoke-performing John Denver's "Country Roads." (Well, I guess I didn't.)
But this is no random reporting about the rise of the karaoke ("empty orchestra") movement, and the weird violence surrounding it. The author of this excellent article, Wire and Spin contributor Brian Raftery, has just had published his own full length book on the subject, "Don't Stop Believin': How Karaoke Conquered the World and Changed My Life."
I find the actual book far more entertaining than I've ever found most karaoke nights I've attended, but I hasten to admit that's no doubt because I am too chicken-shit to participate in singing in public at the parties or clubs where it happens.
But that soon might change after the wonderful cultural challenges Raftery gives snobby live music fans throughout his really charming history, autobiography, and manifesto. He makes it seem reasonable and frankly irresistible. (Cover your ears, world, some TIG staffers aren't as vocally talented as certain Imaginary editors.)
The Slate article is the dark side to the phenomenon of more karaoke freedom Raftery describes as allowing in material like Fugazi's "Waiting Room" and having whole programs devoted to metal and other types of music than the kitschy over-spun hits of our shared radio youth.
It's 2 AM, people are drunk, and that guy or gal is either singing the song your neighbor used to replay relentlessly when you were sleeping for night shift or the song your best friend sang at your wedding. The actual quality of the performance may have something to do with the sudden burst of vividly physical music criticism.
Has karaoke changed your life?