Future Doctor Miller talks Karaoke

Photo by Amanda Walczesky Danielson
I know I’ve been close to radio silence here on the FtB lately.  I’ve found a lot of the fighting going on in my pages about Shermer a bit triggery, but mostly I’ve been getting ready for and recovering from the oral defense of my Comprehensive Exams.


Yes.  I am All But Dissertation or, as I plan to sign only the most ridiculous things I talk about: Ashley F. Miller, almost PhD.  Of course, there’s that pesky dissertation thing between me and making everyone call me doctor.  And I’m starting a CAREER sort of job tomorrow, but I got this.

In light of the serious scholarly weight I’ve been carrying around with me this last month, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about something not terribly deep at all.  My love for Karaoke.  Consider this a love letter, of sorts.

I have been having a rough couple weeks, but I’ve had the opportunity to go to karaoke frequently with people I like a great deal, so that’s been good.  It occurred to me that the rules of karaoke and how I approach it are very different from the way I do most things in life.  There are unwritten rules, the most important of which is that Taste Doesn’t Matter.  This is really weird for me because I am highly critical, but when I go to karaoke that part of my mind almost totally shuts down.  I mean, I still notice when something I don’t like is happening, but it generally doesn’t matter very much.  No amount of anxiety meds or alcohol or CBT has ever been able to shut off my obsessive-compulsive noticing of flaws, but karaoke very nearly does.

Photo by Chris Bickel

Karaoke is about supporting people doing something they enjoy, whether you would normally enjoy it or not — in exchange, they support you when it’s your turn.  Don’t like the song or the genre of music?  Too bad, support them anyway.  Don’t think they can sing?  Too bad, sing along.  Think “Blurred Lines” is quasi-date-rape-y? Too bad, sing the “hey hey hey”.  They are butchering a song you wanted to sing later?  Too bad, clap for them and find a new song.  They’re too drunk to read the screen and don’t know any of the words? Sing along in the audience to help them out.

This rule applies to the performance as well.  You want to do something that’s fun for the room.  You’re not obligated to, you can sing whatever you want, and not all audiences are alike.  One group might be very impressed by your rendition of a slow Adele song while another much prefers over-the-top cock rock.  You can’t always know this, but when you do, aim for helping them have a good time with your performance.  Do you think “I’m Too Sexy” is a great song? Of course not — but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Many of the best karaoke songs are songs you’d probably be embarrassed to admit to liking. Want to do something weird?  Own it.  Someone having fun on stage trumps everything.

This is the only rule of karaoke.  Unconditionally love and support the singer, even and especially when that singer is you.  That’s the reason it’s fun, because it isn’t about being good, it’s about the shared performance of audience and singer.  Oh, it might be great to be the best singer in the room or give the most convincing air guitar, but, when done right, karaoke should be just as much fun when you aren’t singing as when you are.  And that’s my karaoke wisdom, do with it what you will — Ashley F. Miller, almost PhD.

Photo by Chris Bickel

Future Doctor Miller talks Karaoke

16 thoughts on “Future Doctor Miller talks Karaoke

  1. 1

    Congratulations. Passing those tests (oral in your program, a set of three written back in the day for mine) is a major milestone, and you are right to be proud and blowing off steam.
    Two things:
    * Looking forward to seeing you remove “almost” from “almost PhD”
    * My mending left knee is screaming just seeing the guy leg in the first picture

    Great post on great news.

  2. 2

    I’ve always loved that about Karaoke, too.

    Actually being pretty good feels pretty nice, though, and there are some karaoke sins I’m not inclined to forgive (Tina Turner’s inferior rendition of Proud Mary, for example.)

      1. I especially liked the woman who seemed so sad that “Karen” only sang at Christmas parties…

        I want to live in your karaoke world. But I cannot obey the one and only rule.

  3. 4

    Congratulations!, and my apologies for…

    I’ve found a lot of the fighting going on in my pages about Shermer a bit triggery

    my part in this. 🙁

    A word to the karaoke-concerned: There are some songs (500 Miles, for example) that already sound to American ears like they’re being sung by someone N sheets to the wind; being N sheets to the wind is therefore not a disadvantage when singing them. 😉

  4. 6

    Couldn’t agree more, Dr. Miller. And, will be putting those rules into practice yet again with fellow skeptics/atheists on karaoke night next Monday in the Big Apple. And they better appreciate how all out I will be going for my birthday! heh

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