Journey through space to the Planet Fabulous, where the Ruler of the Universe will see you shortly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Name That Tune

Now, it's a well-known fact that I can't carry a note in a bucket. My deep-seated love of music is more... let's be kind and say 'theoretical' - although whether you'd call Girls Aloud 'music' is still open to debate. I mean, I've heard of 'Pachelbel's Canon' but have no idea what it would sound like, or look like, and thus could by no means point at it on a sit-down buffet for fifty. And even then I'd probably pass it over in favour of some rather lovely quiche with a side of cheesy Wotsits.

Thus it was with deep surprise that I was willingly dragged to go to a karaoke bar last night by my two erstwhile drinking companions Emma and Comedy Housemate Jay. Well, she claimed it was a karaoke bar, and with three bottles of wine inside us we were willing to believe her, as we were standing outside a closed Japanese book store in the sordid end of Soho, with her hollering to be let in.

"It is a karaoke bar!" insisted Emma, who had taken to tenaciously tapping on the locked glass door with her keys. I swayed with drunken embarrassment, trying to focus on my feet as the mystified Japanese owner unlocked the door and stuck his head out. "Karaoke!" bellowed Emma. "You know - Cher... I Will Survive!"

The owner 'ahh'-ed, and let us in, shuffling us down a darkened corridor in the back of the shop while bowing and nodding in jovial subservience. It all felt rather seedy. Indeed, last time I'd done anything so salubrious in the company of our Asian cousins was back in 1862, being led up some back stairs to smoke opium in a charming slum in Limehouse. (I tell you, ever since I had that past-life regression, former lives have been popping up like David Blunkett's love children.)

We were led into a tiny booth the size of a Swedish sauna - er, not that I'd know, one of my friends told me, yes - where Jay pounced on the playlist with joyful anticipation. I peered over his shoulder, horrified at how drunk I was vision was so blurred, all the words just looked like meaningless squiggles. Soon after, I realised the writing was actually Japanese. Which seemed to give a playful randomness to the whole affair.

Now, musically, I'm not gifted. I usually limit my singing to the self-penned lyrics of the 'Star Trek: Voyager' theme tune, but we were in an enclosed space. We were drunk. So when I was passed the microphone, I ran with it like a baton. Soon the corpses of beloved songs I'd murdered were stacking up: Diana Ross lay with her guts ripped out on the sofa, Nancy Sinatra was indeed shot down, and Mama Cass' corpulent cadaver was completely blocking the door. This wasn't helped by Jay being able to sing at a nigh-on professional level, and Emma having a set of lungs on her that could rival Shirley Bassey on the high notes. Frankly, I was feeling as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike, but too drunk to really care.

Then... then... as I stumbled forward to take my turn at The Carpenters' 'Close to You', it was almost as if the graceful, bony hand of Karen Carpenter had draped itself across my shoulders. I hit a note! And another! A hit, a most palpable hit! Dame Karen was filling me with hope, and didn't even mind when I quipped "It's because you throw your lunch away, Karen!" to the line "Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?" Bless her skinny corpse!

And then? Well, I completely lost it, due to having to use the hilarious on-screen lyrics that had been translated into Japanese from the original English, and then translated back in a rather cavalier fashion. They weren't completely competent, to be kind. So the line 'That is why all the girls in town, follow you all around' had now become 'All the girls go down, and follow you around town'.

I laughed so hard that I almost swallowed my own tongue.

At which point, Mama Cass opened her eyes and gave me the thumbs up.

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