Karaoke has been a staple in the Gladstone’s Melody Bar for over 20 years. It’s a Queen West constant, attracting countless regulars, travellers, group parties, and bar crawls. Although the night of singing has always started with regularity—every Friday & Saturday at 10:30pm!—parts of the show have also changed over the years.
Since last Spring, Fameless Karaoke has featured a new cast of rotating hosts who each bring their own style, energy, and talent to the stage. This blog series helps us all get to know them a bit better (though chances are you’ve probably seen them around on the town anyhow!)
What’s your go-to karaoke song to sing?
That’s a tough question because it depends on how I’m feeling that night and the energy of the crowd. “Come Together” used to be my go to karaoke song because it’s all about having a good time, and you can’t go wrong with the Beatles (even if the song makes no sense at all.)
Why do you think karaoke has such enduring cultural appeal?
Music is a universal thing, and when we can get the whole world to sing no matter your ability, that’s the cultural appeal of karaoke. It’s an inclusive pastime that everyone can celebrate and that’s what I enjoy about it.
How do you find karaoke changes as the night goes on?
The energy at a Karaoke show doesn’t and shouldn’t change as the night goes on, as long as people are having fun. Some people can get a little competitive with it but my goal as a host is make sure no one feels intimidated by other singers. Again, it’s an activity for everyone and not a contest. I love when patrons can feel inspired to sing just by listening to others; they’re as free to be audiences as much as they are to be participants.
Any profound thoughts on the relationship between karaoke, confidence, and alcohol?
Great question. I’ve had many patrons shy away from singing karaoke because it can be nerve racking for anyone who’s never performed in public or in front of their friends, let alone strangers. They’ll say they’re not drunk enough and or need “liquid courage” before they sing. While I completely respect and can understand that sentiment, especially since karaoke culture is 100% immersed in bar culture and alcohol consumption, as that classic Jimmy Buffet song goes, sometimes you can be just “too drunk to karaoke”
Do you have a favourite karaoke story from the Gladstone?
I have many favourite stories but one of the most memorable moments I’ve had was the time a patron with a disability came in, and though he couldn’t get on stage with his wheelchair, I let him rap his own rhymes, and everyone was floored with his talent and gave him a standing ovation. His caregiver came to me and told me that by giving him that opportunity I’d literally made his night. So happy I did my job right cause that’s what Gladstone karaoke is all about; providing a safe and inclusive space for ALL people to be welcomed and respected in a fun social environment.
What’s the connection for you between hosting and your “day job”?
My day job was to connect with hundreds of people over the phone. Hosting karaoke allowed me to connect with hundreds of people face to face. I prefer the latter. It’s more fun that way.