Let me start by saying that while I hope American Idol dies a slow and painful death, I love me some karaoke bars.
My love affair began with a little place called The Ramblin’ Rose. To say it’s a seedy dive bar is an understatement. It is a dirty, smoky, over-pouring, toothless patron-loving honky tonk nestled in the winding back roads of Rowlett, Texas. I once witnessed a knife fight in there. I wish I wasn’t serious.
Now, the Rose isn’t strictly a karaoke bar. They only do it on Friday and Saturday nights, probably because on any other night of the week they have an average of about eight people in there. But on karaoke nights the place is packed with townies, leather-clad motorcycle dudes, moms, creepy old guys with hair down to their elbows, college kids, cougars, smokers, and the occasional group of really cool normal kids who just like cheap drinks and bars where nobody cares if you show up wearing sweatpants. That’s where we come in.
This fusion of young and old, rich and poor, lame and awesome provides the ideal crowd for karaoke. If you suck, they’ll support you anyway. If you’re funny, they’ll always laugh. Sing an upbeat song and the dance floor will fill up in a second. Throw ‘em a decent rendition of Broken Wing and they will absolutely go wild.
I’m telling you all this so you’ll know that I am no stranger to singing karaoke. However, in my heart of hearts, I’ve never been quite satisfied. Sure, Whitney Houston and Martina McBride songs tend to elicit a powerful response...but deep down I always knew I was capable of so much more. I used to sit and wish I could find a way to express who I really am inside; to show people what I really feel.
Last night, all my wishes came true.
Jenny’s friend Jordan (the trash bag alien) works at a bar called Frankie’s on Tuesday nights, and he invited us to come out and do some karaoke since he’s the “KJ”. Of course we agreed, not knowing that one of my life’s dearest ambitions would be fulfilled as a result.
It turns out that Jordan is the best performer on earth. He sang Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Black Dog, Fortunate Son, and Roses by OutKast, all with perfect accuracy. Leah put all those years of perfecting her Cher impression to good use with a fantastic interpretation of Believe, followed closely in quality by Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie and a heart wrenching duet of The Boy Is Mine with none other than Jenny Hubbard. Jenny closed out the evening with Say My Name. You may not know this, but Jenny’s got soul. Gary and Levi were supportive as usual, and Sarah spent most of the night trying to convince Jenny to sing ‘N Sync songs. I’ve got a plan in the works to force Sarah to sing the next time we go*.
All that on its own would have made it a night to remember, but what turned it into a night I’ll never forget – the night my life was changed forever – was Jenny’s suggestion that I sing Grillz. The mere thought of it sent a shiver down my spine. I knew this was it. My chance to show everyone my true colors. It was finally time to unveil my alter ego: Emily Black.
I’ll tell you one thing. Rapping is hard. It leaves you out of breath. Your mouth somehow becomes simultaneously bone dry and full of spit. You get tired. But I’ll also tell you that it was the most rewarding experience of my life. That includes the time I saved a baby from a raging bull.
I might cause a cold front if I take a deep breaf.
*Oh yes, Howrey. You’re next. Because I’m about to tell everyone a little secret: Sarah Howrey is a fantastic singer. She’d probably deny this in a court of law because she’s kind of a criminal, but I’m telling you the truth. Once people hear her, she’ll probably end up with all kinds of offers to be the front woman for some awesome indie rock band, and I’ll be honest, I could use a friend at the top. To further my rap career.