Sunday, June 30, 2013

No. 340 – She Blinded Me with Science

Performer: Thomas Dolby
Songwriter: Thomas Dolby
Original Release: single
Year: 1982
Definitive Version: None

I’m not a musician, which is pretty ridiculous when you consider how much I love music. I took guitar lessons when I was 12, but I was a lazy ass and never practiced, so I never got any better and eventually gave it up. The most I do is sing. I was in choir for a year in junior high, but that’s beside the point.

Laurie is into karaoke; me not so much. I’d done it before—twice in Flint—but most of the time when I’m in such a situation, I never find a song I want to do and can do well enough to get up on stage and not make a complete fool of myself.

One night in February 2009, we were out with two other couples—actor friends of Laurie’s and their wives. We met up at a sports bar called Mullen’s invariably to eat wings and plays some darts, but it was a league night, and all the boards were full. So what to do after eating dinner?

One of the wives suggested a Korean karaoke place not far from where we were. What the heck’s Korean karaoke? Well, she said, it’s not like a typical karaoke bar; it’s fun. OK, why not?

When we got to the place, it became instantly clear that this would be a totally different experience. The host ushered us into a room that had a couple of couches, a huge coffee table and a big-screen TV on the wall. A couple of songbooks were on the coffee table along with a couple of microphones.

The deal was you rented the room by the hour and did the karaoke inside the room. The rest was like any karaoke situation: You pick the song, press the button, and it would come on over the PA with the words and some funky video on the TV. Every so often, someone came by to take drink orders or bring around a bowl of chips or pretzels.

Well, this was cool. There was no performance anxiety, because you weren’t singing in front of a bunch of judgmental strangers but your own crew. Having a second mic made it so if you wanted, you could sing a duet or do a little backup. Laurie jumped right into the fray, and one of her first songs had some good backup parts that weren’t on the TV but I knew cold, so I joined in from the comfort of my couch. It was much more fun than being on stage at a bar.

But I couldn’t find the right song. I mean there were a few songs that I could have done, but everyone was picking fun songs, so it had to be something “up.” Then I turned the page and saw this song. She Blinded Me With Science is on a karaoke playlist? We have a winner!

I punched the numbers in without telling anyone what I chose, and as soon as the groovy synth started, everyone clapped in approval. I brought the house down with my spot-on befuddled Thomas Dolby. The truth be told, however, I almost would have rather had someone else picked the song, so I could do the backup (“science!”) parts. Those are the most fun.

The time flew by that night. When we finally had had enough, it was almost 2 in the morning. We had been there for three hours, and it seemed impossible that it could have been even two. I did one more song that night, which I’ll mention at another time, and that so far has marked the end of my karaoke career.

I don’t have any great desire to get in front of a bunch of people and perhaps make a fool of myself, but if it ever came up again as an entertainment option, I definitely would go back to the Korean karaoke place. It’s still there; I used to drive by it all the time before my old gym closed early this year.

And I know what song I’d immediately choose. Anyone else want to sing lead this time?

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