Karaoke terrorism all in good fun

By Kevin WIlson: Freedom New Mexico

The scene was a bar, nowhere near the confines of eastern New Mexico. It could have been any bar in America, with a dance floor, dart board and pool table to complement the alcohol and chicken wings.

But it was Friday night, and columnist Kevin Wilson was in AnyBar. The bar patrons didn’t know it at the time, but his entrance signaled their demise through a practice called karaoke terrorism.

(To deflect myself from further criticism about using the word “terrorism” so flippantly, I’ll simply invoke another flippant slogan and say if I can’t do this column, then the terrorists have truly won.)

Karaoke terrorism is a practice you’ve surely seen, but maybe didn’t know it. Whenever you see somebody performing a song poorly, that’s probably not karaoke terrorism — that’s just somebody singing poorly.

It’s not song terrorism either. That, as comedian Christian Finnegan originated, is coming up behind somebody and singing the chorus of an annoying song so it’s stuck in their mind all day. Like when I write, “If you like pina colada,” and you read it, you’re now a victim of song terrorism.

Karaoke terrorism has more to do with finding the one song in the catalog that doesn’t match the atmosphere of the event where karaoke is held, thus bringing an otherwise night of bad music to a screeching halt. It’s fun if your song works and people look blankly at the stage, or it works if people come to the dance floor and start grooving because they simply don’t get the joke.

Mike knew the joke. The next hour consisted of me and Mike hitting on two women sitting next to us for reasons I don’t understand, and scanning the book for the perfect weapon. Now, I can do a pretty mean version of “Love Shack,” but tonight wasn’t the night for it. It would have fit in a little too well with the guy singing about how today’s music didn’t have the same soul as something or other.

Nor was it the time to butcher a country song, because a group of guys already came up and sang Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” I don’t feel guilty doing karaoke terrorism when people are already making a mockery of music.

Suddenly, a vision came to me, right next to the name of Bobby Darin. The lounge singer’s classic “Beyond the Sea” was available — the perfect weapon for a crowd that had never seen a lounge singer.

Everybody started clapping when I came up, but applause was replaced by blank looks when the saxophones started on the stereo. I belted out, “My lover stands on golden saaaaaaands … and watches the ships, that go saiiiiilin.”

With the drum solo playing and another measure to go, I watched the confused crowd, two men leaving and Mike laughing back at the table. That’s when I knew I had succeeded in my mission of karaoke terrorism.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: