KARAOKE ANYWHERE & THE STAGE OF HEROES

A single spotlight on an empty stage. Fade-in synths, enter baseline and percussion. A shadow emerges, a face in the dark. Lips pursed, brow furrowed, eyes tight, heart racing. Drum fill shatters the tension. The crowd is electric, hanging on every expression, every whiff of emotion. W-whoa w-whoa w-w-w-whoa w-whoa w-whoa w-w-w-whoa. Every single hardship of humanity is irrelevant. In this moment we are heroes, a collection of souls united behind a single, magical, performative experience. Once upon a time, not so long ago. Reputation be damned. Nothing exists beyond the end of this song. Pride and shame become one in the limelight, and the only course of action is to expose your heart to the world, to define yourself once and for all. Confidence abounds, sure as the day you were born, barely in time to begin: Tommy used to work on the docks…

Everybody has their go-to karaoke jam. If you don’t, figure one out. It’s an excellent first-date question, like “what’s your favorite animal” or “would you like to play my kazoo?” or “did you just call me ‘mom’?” Who you are in your karaoke moment is how you’ll be remembered by tens, maybe hundreds of people. Were you Jon Bon Jovi? Probably not, but you were close. You could have been, maybe you still could be. Never give up on yourself.

Now imagine you could have the same karaoke experience without the hassle of a dark, dusty bar. Without the smelly mic, the kids yelling from the anonymous corner of the room. “You suck!” they say, crushing your swollen heart. “Sing like Creed!” What are they thinking?! The absurdity of it all is overwhelming, and you might not survive.

Fortunately there’s Karaoke Anywhere, an app that lets you sing karaoke, well, anywhere. Wherever you are, you can sing. Need I say more? Here, I’ll let them explain:

karaoke

“We’ve partnered with a ton of Karaoke manufacturers to bring you the world’s most complete and fully legal streaming Karaoke library on the planet! For a low monthly price you can stream as many songs as you can handle, selecting from an expansive library of songs updated monthly.”

When I first read that they were the world’s most complete library on the planet, I saw past the redundancy and focused on their emphatic completeness. Do they have every song ever made? Perhaps they’ve conducted extensive research on karaoke preferences around the globe, ranking music by popularity and singability. Who is to say what constitutes an entirely complete collection? Surely I could find a counterexample, a song I’d like to sing not included in their library. Wouldn’t that prove their imperfection and imply their incompleteness?

Precisely, and it didn’t take long. It was the first place I looked, in fact, right between Bonnie Raitt and Boston: a big empty patch of nothing. My heart sank. No Bon Jovi! Why else am I here except for my main man JBJ! We used to call him Jonny Badass in high school, a practice I’d defend with my life to this day. My name is Ian and “Livin’ On A Prayer” is my go-to karaoke jam. Karaoke Anywhere did not have that song, nor any other Jovi masterpiece, and I am disappointed.

Maybe it’s not their fault. I can totally see Jonny Badass withholding the rights, squeezing every dollar out of his songs. It is all about the Benjamins, baby. Indeed, Karaoke Anywhere does have an immense library full of reputable artists. Scroll through the A’s to find Aretha, Aaliyah, Alanis, Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, Alice Cooper and All-American Rejects, as well as about 75 more “A”-listers. Yes I said 75, I counted them because I was surprised by how many there were. About as many B’s too (despite one glaring omission), and generally consistent throughout the alphabet. I’d consider paying $9.99/month for the listening rights if I didn’t already have Spotify.

But I do have Spotify, and I don’t need Karaoke Anywhere. They’re not even the actual songs, just wordless, soulless reproductions, background tracks to Kidz Bop music. Yes I can imagine an unlikely scenario where I would want to sing these songs in public specifically without the artists’ vocals, but doing so requires a seriousness usually reserved for professionals, most of whom wouldn’t be caught dead using a karaoke machine they downloaded onto their phones. I’m comfortable just singing along to the actual song, especially in informal situations. Obviously life on stage is a different story–how dare JBJ step on my toes during my moment of glory–but most karaoke stages have karaoke machines. You don’t need to bring your own.