You know them all.
They’re present at every karaoke night, in Anytown, USA, determined to embellish your quality of life with their idea of the superior karaoke experience. As a public service, to help you readily identify the various species of Genus Karaokus, we present this by-no-means exhaustive list, in all their glory, or lack thereof.
The Diva. Dressed for a cocktail party and dripping with costume jewelry, she sings well, smells great, looks fantastic, and is well and truly aware of all three.
Performs like: a Broadway understudy being given her first big chance. Will be drinking: room-temperature mineral water. Will ask the KJ: at least three times to adjust the reverb on her microphone because it’s “too dry”. Will leave when: the crowd fills less than half the room. Favorite song: “My Heart Will Go On” – Celine Dion.
The Cowboy. Full of fun and having a good time, The Cowboy is marked by his gap-toothed grin, signature boots and hat (white or black determines if he sings Brad Paisley or Kix Brooks, respectively) and large silver belt buckle proclaiming his mastery of the rodeo he saw that time on ESPN2.
Performs like: studios in Nashville never heard of the synthesizer. Will be drinking: Coors Light. Will ask the KJ: nothing, as dudes don’t speak unless it’s about trucks, women, guns or dogs. Will leave when: it’s late enough to close, or early enough to go fishing. Favorite song: “Killin’ Time” – Clint Black.
The Crooner. With slicked-back hair and shiny shoes, The Crooner has a smooth face and a voice to match. With his vocal notes dripping honey, you’ll note how his diamond ring glints in the stage lights, as he tenderly cradles the microphone like a top-dollar call girl.
Performs like: the Rat Pack still ruled Vegas. Will be drinking: very dry martinis like they weren’t out of style. Will ask the KJ: for enough Dean Martin tunes to kill both his liver and yours. Will leave when: his expensive wristwatch chimes for curfew at the assisted living facility. Favorite song: “My Way” – Frank Sinatra
The Girls. Never seen in fewer than groups of three, onstage or off, this gaggle of giggles is drinking hard and partying hearty. Dress and looks are not necessary for identification, since when they aren’t actually singing, all you’ll see of them is the back of their iPhones.
Performs like: their sorority mother took a Xanax and is down for the count. Will be drinking: something cloyingly sweet and 100 proof. Will ask the KJ: why the signup sheet doesn’t have room for six names at once. Will leave when: each has held another’s hair while she throws up. Favorite song: “Wannabe” – Spice Girls
The Aging Rocker. Sporting a denim or leather jacket, jeans, sneakers, and an Alice Cooper tee shirt with a mustard stain down the front, he yearns for the glory days when playing electric guitar meant unlimited access to unlimited women. Accessories may include leather driving gloves with the fingers cut off.
Performs like: Deep Purple’s agent is sitting in the corner. Will be drinking: straight bourbon. Will ask the KJ: to drop the pitch two semi-tones to account for the chain smoking. Will leave when: the Girls do, but ten minutes later so it doesn’t seem obvious. Favorite song: “Born To Be Wild” – Steppenwolf
[Note: The author disavows any resemblance between himself and the above entry. Seriously. No, really.]
The Ringer. This one-time recording artist has actual albums to her credit, but has fallen on hard times. Dressed like someone you’d see at Walmart for protective coloration, this innocuous-looking performer will shock everyone else off the stage with her presence and vocal chops.
Performs like: the spirit of Janis Joplin has taken possession of her body. Will be drinking: rum and coke. Will ask the KJ: for his digits. Will leave when: her daughter calls for a ride home from rehab. Favorite song: “It’s Too Late” – Carole King
The Elvi. Commonly found in two main variants – one with a black leather biker jacket, and another with a white sequined jumpsuit. If found in the same habitat, these two mortal enemies will never speak to one another (a curt nod is acceptable), but each is as keenly aware of the other’s presence as two tigers in the same forest.
Performs like: the Memphis Mafia were backstage. Will be drinking: mushroom gravy. Will ask the KJ: if he can tie scarves to the microphone stand. Will leave when: he has left the building, natch. Favorite Song: “American Trilogy” – Elvis Presley
Redneck Woman. Gretchen Wilson’s alter-ego, this good-timing mama is the undisputed singing champion of her trailer park. She’ll either deliver her namesake tune with a twinkle in her eye and a bun in the oven, or excoriate her on-again, off-again baby-daddy with a scathing rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”.
Performs like: no one is watching. Will be drinking: anything you set in front of her. Will ask the KJ: if he has a younger brother. Will leave when: she realizes those disposable diaper coupons expire at midnight. Favorite song: “Here For The Party” – Gretchen Wilson
White Rapahz. Almost always observed in groups of four or more, these young pale males are readily identified by their two-hundred-dollar sneakers, knee-length basketball jerseys, and an overabundance of confidence in their mad gangsta-rap mic skillz.
Performs like: Showtime At The Apollo was hosting a bar mitzvah. Will be drinking: Jäger and Red Bull. Will ask the KJ: why they’re not allowed to sing NWA unironically. Will leave when: anyone with real street cred shows up. Favorite song: “In Da Club” – 50 Cent
The Newbie. The first-timer to karaoke night is easily spotted by their halting vocals, a tendency to hold the microphone too far away, and an occular fixation with the lyric wipe akin to a starving vulture hovering over roadkill on the median of a Los Angeles freeway at rush hour.
Performs like: a second-grade production of “The Importance Of Being Earnest”. Will be drinking: progressively more as the evening wears on. Will ask the KJ: why they can’t hear the original vocals in the monitors. Will leave when: the KJ tells them there’s a $100 surcharge to sing “Don’t Stop Believing”. Favorite song: “All Star” – Smash Mouth
We present this post in the spirit of National Karaoke Week, and hope you had as much fun laughing at these archetypes as we’ve had in enjoying their antics over the years. If you have some types you’d like to see in a future installment, let us know in the comments below. All music content brought to you by KaraokeOnVEVO and Karaoke Cloud.