There aren’t a lot of activities in life in which certain kinds of kooky mediocrity are properly celebrated.
Aw, who am I kidding. There’s really only one that matters: Karaoke.
Here’s the thing about karaoke: as a practice, it best rewards performers who can occupy that strange space between being actually good (boooooriiinnnggg) and being madly, badly, over-the-edge-into-brilliantly awful. No one goes to karaoke (at least, not in small town bars) to win a record contract. There’s no place for skill there. Performers who might otherwise never dream of making all of the cheesy gestures anywhere else in their lives will ham it up so bad at karaoke that the whole room suddenly isn’t kosher. Karaoke rewards this. One must be earnest and ironic at the same time, somehow negotiating real feeling and total bullshit via the same medium in a single song.
It’s awesome. It is also an instant time-warp to the 80s and early 90s, the time in popular music when pretty much everyone mugged it big in the wackiest and most theatrical ways. It don’t think it’s an accident that certain songs are popular at karaoke might (and I’m betting that unless there are a lot of theatre people in your crowd, most of those songs ain’t show tunes or standards from the American Songbook). The excesses of 80s and 90s rock are most perfectly lived via karaoke.
It may be the closest some of us ever get to really performing (theatrically speaking) with our music outside of a moving car or a shower.
Next time, I’m rocking some Prince.