With the writers’ strike still in full force, I’ve been forced to watch some pretty god-awful television these days. That’s the term I use when I describe things I’m embarrassed to like, like ANTM, Party Mama’s, Super Sweet 16… you know, high-art TV. And while I’m sure the networks are shitting their pants at the possibility of unresolved cliff hangers (will Jack ever resolve his daddy issues and get back to the island?), others are putting their lack of writers to good work by putting out singing show after singing show. Clash of the Choirs, Don’t Forget The Lyrics, that other one that’s the exact same. Essentially, karaoke on television. They’ve even got a karaoke option on TMN On Demand! Gotta love that Rogers Digital Cable. So, in the spirit of rocking and being rocked, I thought I’d talk about different karaoke places in the city.
Venue: Gladstone. Not to be one of those, “I remember when…” guys, but I remember when Gladstone was a lot more fun. Nary a suit nor a beefy security guard with a Madonna microphone at the front door. Anyway, still a good bet for the West End, especially if you avoid the Saturday lawyer rush. Prepare to get booed; it has happened to me before and I’ve certainly done it. Drunken renditions of Johnny Cash are best saved for people who actually know the words to “Ring Of Fire”. Luckily, my Mae-West of the West End came on, pushed me off, sang the rest and saved me from even more embarrassment. Make sure to be nice to the Karaoke guy so that if you’re flailing, he’ll put up the “Applause” sign. If he doesn’t like you, you may not hear your name, or it’ll be on one of your smoke breaks.
Karaoke Song: My friend LD and I do a badass version of Meatloaf’s “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” and BTO’s “Takin’ Care of Business”. Really, you don’t have to be at the Gladstone to hear us do this, anywhere excess booze is involved. “Get to the part about working overtime!”
Venue: XO Karaoke. This is a kickass place on Bloor St. in Koreatown. You can rent a little room, smuggle in beers, surreptitiously smoke, and rock the shit out of the place. If you’re feeling a little shy, this is the spot for you. The smaller room space means that it’s just you and your friends. Problem being, it’s just you and your friends. If you have any hambone in you, or any desire to keep moderately cool, you may not want to roll here. Once, on a whim, I came here with one of my galpals. She lost her voice, and I lost my shirt. With no one around, you can really let loose.
Karaoke Song: Jim Croce’s “Bad Bad Leroy Brown”
Venue: Crews & Tango. Yes, that Crews & Tango. They do karaoke. Watch for hilarious songs in the playbook. My favourite was Jann Arden’s “Insensitive”. Score another one for daddy issues! Also look for people that get fucking into it. It’s like Kelly Clarkson was magically transposed to the stage and I can look right into her hazel eyes. Notably absent from the book are any Salt N Pepa songs. No “Whatta Man”, no “None Of Your Business”, no “Shoop”! I don’t think any songs could be more about fucking dudes than those ones. Watch a gay hear “Shoop” and watch him lose his shit. Wait, is that just me?
Karaoke Song: My friend Lizzie did a fantastic version of The Ronette’s “The Leader Of The Pack” wherein she was implored to “take off her top”. I love gays.
Venue: My backyard. Luckily, my neighbours are pretty far from me, because I can’t even count the number of times I’ve belted out some choice numbers alone or with a few dozen friends. Alright, I don’t have that many friends, but me and the bushes get crazy good acoustics.
Karaoke Song: More like genres. Motown is a favourite. Dad music like Dire Straits, Supertramp, Seger, Springsteen and Queen always rule. Who doesn’t love a Disney classic or eight? And of course there’s the typical cottage fare, The Hip, Blue Rodeo (also real dad music), even the occasional Phish.
That barely scratches the surface of karaoke to be found in the city so take a look around. Keep reading your SDTC for events, and if you’re lucky, you may just hear me belt out…. “I want you, I need you, but there’s no way, I’m ever gonna love you. Now don’t be sad. ‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad.” We rock the shit out of that!