It’s been bloody years since I did karaoke last, and so with the recent arrival of my birthday I decided that the arbitrary forced bit of levity I wanted to inflict on the world was a singing extravaganza the likes of which they’d never experienced.

However, it turns out it’s a little more challenging than that to get British people to do karaoke.

One of these individuals isn't wearing a comedy wig.

Not that it was ever something which we did in massive amounts back in Adelaide, but the few times I’ve done it I remembered it being quite some fun: various bashes at various Scout halls around the place… vague recollection of singing Chef’s “Chocolate Salty Balls” with Alex See somewhere….  the session in Sydney where 2 of Amy’s friends sang “Girl From Ipanema” in the voices of Burns & Smithers… and the karaoke 1st of my girlfriend-at-the-time during which my Dad insisted I join him in a duet of “Hey Jude”, and learned that it was indeed the longest song in the universe.  Good times.

It would be unfair to denounce Chris's guitar playing performance as "flaccid", but it didn't matter - everyone had their eyes on the mysterious redhead.

Fast forward to a Thursday night in North London, and I’d convinced an eager crowd of 14 to join me in the private karaoke booth surroundings at Lucky Voice.  It was an entirely different mentality to the process to what I’d experienced before, and though people explained it as being “closer to the original Japanese tradition” I thought that it was more plainly obvious that it was a strategic move to enable you to not embarrass yourself in front of a large crowd, and to be able to get a karaoke night off the ground without having to have too many people agree to go with you (they have rooms for 4 people, and various other numbers).  We went for the 15 person room purely because that was the biggest one they had.

Dave & I adding another dimension to karaoke - that of the awesome dance break

There seemed litte question as to who would go first: being the instigator & chief torturer, I got off to a flying start with the able aid of Brett, and we nailed a fairly serviceable rendition of “Boom! Shake the Room!” (authentically channelling DJ Jazzy Jeff and indeed the Fresh Prince).

One of the benefits of being the guest of honour is that one can request a song from any of the other attendees, however the downside is that if you’ve got a room full of not-quite-drunk-enough-yet people then you also end up singing the first 10 or so songs in a row.  Maybe this isn’t a scientifically documented phenomenon, but that’s what happened.

While Paul & James sing "It's a Kind Of Magic", Jason breaks into his world famous MAGIC TRICKS ROUTINE. The hilarity never ceases.

Within about a half hour of arriving I was pretty much unable to speak.  But we all soldiered on regardless.

The room was a fairly comfy & intimate space, where bench seat space dictated pretty much that the singer(s) (and whatever accompaniment they could muster) stood at the front.  There were a couple of light-operating buttons (Boogie mode, anyone?), a drinks button (which would fetch a drinks lady, if she noticed), and a box with various props, wigs, hats, and whatnot.

It seemed that once everyone had gotten beyond the initial nerves of the ludicrous embarrassment of having to sing in front of a group of people, it actually went pretty damn well!  Some of the musical highlights were, for me, Dan & Hannah’s interpretation of Chas N’ Dave’s “Snooker Loopy”, Belinda’s “Material Girl” (briefly pushing the nerves button again when we all realised that she can actually sing), Chris & Dave’s “Living On A Prayer” (during which I’m told that my tamborine skills were nothing short of bewildering), and Paul & my storming emulation of the Ray Parker Jr classic, “Ghostbusters”.  I’m afraid that one was my idea, and it led me to wonder whether life had turned a corner – the playout to Ghostbusters taking about a week, and giving me flashbacks to the Hey Jude experience again.

Raw musical talent. Well... raw talent. Well... raw. Something.

Overall, another excellent birthday celebration.  I wouldn’t go rushing back to the venue again in favour of not checking out some competitors – the mike setup gave no sort of foldback so it was less “singing” and more “shouting into a microphone”, and the staff were a little casual at times.

That aside, top night.  I know some great people.  Huge thumbs up to The Puzzler & Pamela, HC, Neonwombat, Brett, Mooley & Rob, Jamner, B-Phe, Lord Science, Dave, Belinda & Tom, and the last minute addition of Battlekitty.  Hurrah!

(the Flickr gallery of Tom & Lizzie’s Facebook photos that I ripped off can be found under the following link: Jason’s Karaoke World Peace Summit & Butchering Skills Workshop)

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