Karaoke: The Debate Rages

There’s been a heated debate over on Sir Insolent’s blog about the true value of karaoke.

Perhaps significantly, the debate started from a post about the National Party. There is a close, and somewhat baffling, affinity between the Nats and karaoke.

I think it goes back to the early 1990s when Ruth Richardson was filmed belting out “I am Woman” somewhere. I don’t know why this affinity is there but it is a deep and complex one. I’ve been to a few National Party dos at Parliament and there is always a karaoke machine in the corner, and it is not only aging gallery hacks belting out “Beds Are Burning” who end up using it.

My hunch is that if this link between the Nats and karaoke were explained we would all understand a great deal more about the New Zealand political scene of the early 21st Century.

The last function I went to had one senior MP who has to remain nameless wailing out an ancient 1950s song and NEVER AT ANY POINT HITTING A RIGHT NOTE. Not only that, but he successfully maintained his air of smiling smugness throughout the performance. It was hilarious in a horrifying sort of way. I shall never forget it.

My own experience of karaoke is limited but fun. The first criteria of a successfull karaoke performance is, of course, drunkenness. The second rule is the song must be awful. But they need to be GOOD bad songs.

It is my dream to find a karaoke machine which has the great ol’ coutnry song about the Girl Wearing Nothing But a Smile and A Towel on the Picture in the Billboard in the Field Near the Big Ol’ Highway. It is a classic of its kind.

I also want to find “Sink the Bismark”.

The last karaoke I managed – with a bunch of old school mates at a Chinese restaurant in Papakura – went off like a bomb, although our choice of songs was not wise. There were too many which required singing in higher register than we could manage. Vocal chords were in threads by the end of the night.

Mind you, the re-written lyrics went down well. The only one I can remember now is a revamped version of the BEE GEes “Staying Alive” which began ‘Well you can tell by the way I use my walk, that the operation didn’t work…’

The debate raging on this over whether karaoke should be shunned because it is all a bit naff, or because it is the “epitome of coolness” seems to miss the point.

Of course it’s naff. It’s MEANT to be that way. It’s the musical equivalent of Oldies Rugby: the chance for those well past it who once dreamed of being Mick Jagger or Colin Meads to indulge those dreams one more time before going home to the mortgage.

3 thoughts on “Karaoke: The Debate Rages

  1. Hosking strikes again!Very lucid points. I suspect <>genus karaokus<> was born into the National Party well before Pansy Wong’s arrival on the scene in 1996.Rather, karaoke was a natural extension of the sing-a-long, propounded by the likes of the opera-trained Lockwood Smith erupting into full rendition at any opportunity, and the late John Falloon colonising any nearby piano.And since the Nats booze and party much better than the socialists, it was a logical step that at some point they would take their performances to the karaoke joints.


  2. KaraokeVery useful for finding if your boyfriend is homosexual.Only gay white men can hold a tune and dance.The rule does not apply of course for Maori and Polynesians, but then I have never seen them lower their musical talents to karaoke.


  3. I have.After my solo white boy rendition of “Ice Ice Baby” after four days work at Parliament the then “tight five” from NZ First monopolised the karaoke for the rest of the night…Probably a wise decision from a musical stand point.But I must say Journalists are not averse to karaoke…


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