If you’re looking for one single piece of advice to carry through life, then may we suggest this – never trust anyone who doesn’t like karaoke. The way I see it karaoke is the most glorious, liberating activity around, a chance to make an idiot of yourself with limited repercussions and bond with friends and strangers alike. If you’re very lucky, it’ll also give you the chance to lead an entire bar full of people in a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ singalong and for six wonderful minutes truly know what it’s like to be the rock star you always knew you could have been if it wasn’t for an extreme lack of talent and zero record label interest.
I’ve just been on holiday and spent roughly 60% of my trip – give or take a few per cent – with a microphone clenched in one hand and whiskey with ginger ale in the other channeling my inner Adele at a selection of karaoke bars across southern California. Madonna might have sung “only when I’m dancing can I feel this free” but we’re pretty sure that she meant karaoke.
And I’m not the only one in awe of this modern art form. Carpool Karaoke – in which James Corden sings along with heavy duty pop stars like Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran whilst driving aimlessly around Los Angeles – started off a life in 2011 as a Red Nose Day sketch with George Michael, before becoming a short segment in US talkshow The Late Late Show. It’s now taken on a whole life of its own with YouTube hits in the multi-millions and a spin-off show on Apple Music. Earlier this month it also won a Creative Arts Emmy for the second year in a row – yep, that’s a prestigious Hollywood award for karaoke. Meanwhile in Japan, where the karaoke machine was invented in 1971, a ferris wheel has just been fitted with karaoke machines so riders can sing while they spin, proof that getting on a high thrill fairground ride will make you want to sing ‘I Will Survive’ more than ever.
Even though professional singers should technically be banned from karaoke – it’s basically showing off, right? – a fair few musical greats have been seen dabbling recently. Alex Turner was spotted crooning his way through Santana and Rob Thomas’ 1999 cheeseball classic ‘Smooth’, Mac DeMarco’s been doing Billy Joel numbers in Brooklyn and wait – it’s Alex Turner again, this time with Miles Kane and Lana Del Rey in tow, all belting out Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’.
If you’re at a loose end tonight, then it should have become obvious what you now need to do. Find your local karaoke night, pick your guiltiest pleasure tune, serenade your adoring public and truly know what happiness is.