Have you ever.. I don’t know the proper verb here… done… karaoke?

It seems to pop up all the time in the British TV series I have seen, as well as from time to time in Chinese movies.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Lighter fare and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Genevieve says:

    the real question is, have you?? [No, I haven’t. More on that below.]

  2. Frank H says:

    Yes, quite a few years ago. It can be great fun with a suitably “lubricated” crowd of friends.

  3. Incaelo says:

    Oh yes, definitely. But, like Frank H said, lubrication is quite essential. It’s a great way to have some mindless fun with friends (and perhaps show of one’s severe lack of musical skills).

  4. FrCharles says:

    At our novitiate in Nueva Ocotepeque, Honduras, the novices were into it. They were allowed the indulgence of karaoke at special recreations, like birthdays. I was there for one of them, and became famous for my rendition of Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills.

  5. CantateDomino says:

    Haha. This is a great post, Father ;-) I agree, a certain degree of “lubrication” enhances the experience. I have sung karaoke before; it’s amusing. The danger, however, is encountering and suffering through performances by entirely tone-deaf people. >_<

  6. Tim Ferguson says:

    I do a mean Mac the Knife on Karaoke

  7. Random Friar says:

    After we put up screens to project the hymns on the wall, one of the parishioners gruffed to me on the way out of Mass, “Great, we’ve got #$&#*( karaoke now!”

    Loved that guy.

  8. Mark M says:

    Karaoke can be very fun, Father. I seem to end up doing it in Italian restaurants, AFTER forgetting whether I’ve been drinking white or red wine. My bad. [I’m sensing a theme.]

    I’m told I sing well, though! :D

  9. Desertfalcon says:

    I’ve karaoked many a time, even karaoked others, some of which I remember.

  10. wanda says:

    Never karaoked myself, but a niece married into a Chinese family and they LOVE it. They have karaoke at family parties, wedding, engagement parties. They use projectors and have scencery in backgrounds, everyone prepares a special number, etc. Who knew?

  11. I am a shameless karaoke ham :)

  12. William says:

    Random Friar: I’d dearly love to know what “#$&#*” stands for. Thanks for a fine chuckle on a dreary day!

  13. Genevieve says:

    @ William and Random Friar, my husband calls that ‘Christian Karaoke.’ He’s a church musician, and not always in the Catholic church, so he’s suffered his share of christian karaoke singers!

  14. irishgirl says:

    This is funny…but no, I have never karaoked.

    I don’t like to drink, and stay away from occasions that have drinking [like wedding receptions, for instance].

    The only time i ever sang at a social event was in 1993, when I did a Marty Haugen song [ducks] for the farewell party of a priest who led a prayer group was part of. I did it a’capella-no instruments. He liked it, and so did the other people who were at the party.

    FrCharles and Random Friar, your posts are funny, too!

    Yeah, we’d like to know if you ever karaoked when you were in Italy, Fr. Z!

  15. ljc says:

    If you want to see true karoke-mania, go to the Phillippines. I was there a couple of years ago and there was karoke in every house, every store, every restaurant, just everywhere.

  16. irishgirl says:

    Oops-should have put in ‘I was part of’-another instance of my brain getting ahead of my fingers…

  17. gmarie says:

    I’ve have done karaoke and it’s rather fun. However, my hubby and I have found it’s much more enjoyable at home with a party of friends. Of course, it helps to be married to a technophile with all the A/V equipment of a small concert hall and a karaoke machine.

  18. yatzer says:

    Nope, I’d have to be too “lubricated” to stand up. I make a good audience, tho.

  19. I actually do Karaoke with some good friends every Saturday night! We cover just about every genre of music too…I think I’m gonna sing Natalie Imbruglia, Jay-Z, and an Aladdin song tonight.

  20. RichardT says:

    Once, in Belgium. Blue Suede Shoes. Never again (at least while I am sober enough to resist).

    Perhaps I just go to the wrong (right?) parties, but it seems to have died out here in England. I haven’t seen a karaoke bar, or even seen a karaoke evening advertised, for years. A thankfully short-lived fashion.

  21. RichardT says:

    More interesting than just “have you done it” – what song did (or would) you sing?

  22. Unfinished says:

    Karaoke is awesome. You should totally get into it Father. [Totally? … like… totally?]

  23. RichardT: No, I have never done this. And I am not too keen on it, since decades ago I used to play a lot in public (pubs, and busking, etc.) and that is sort of a past life, as it were. Second, I frankly don’t know that many songs anymore! I don’t think I could get through anything without a lot of review or practice. I haven’t sung much other than Gregorian chant for a while!

    But the reason this came up is that a reader sent me an mp3 of a karaoke version of a song I don’t really know, but recognized as having been used once on the TV show The West Wing with the odd request that I record my own version of it! I dug around and it is a song called “Halleluia” by Jeff Buckley, though written by Leonard Cohen. It is ostensibly about King David, his call and conversion as applied to the life of the one singing… I think.

    That got me thinking about who does these karaoke things.

  24. I love Karaoke… and I disagree that you have to have had a few drinks first. Admittedly, the drinks help you cope with the more out-of-tune volunteers…


  25. Margaret says:

    decades ago I used to play a lot in public (pubs, and busking, etc.) and that is sort of a past life, as it were.

    What instrument do you play, Father??

  26. Margaret: I’ve played several in my day.

  27. GoZagsGo says:

    I love Karaoke :) Of course, it helps when you’re with people who can sing ha! I generally throw in the towel however, when the local musical theatre people show up. Speaking of Jeff Buckley’s recording of Hallelujah, which has long been my favorite version, last night Justin Timberlake did a wonderful performance of Cohen’s song for the Hope for Haiti concert. I’m of the personal opinion that he copied some of the intonation from Buckley, but it’s really superb nevertheless. Worth a listen if you have the time :)

  28. Father: Your rock flute performance of “Aqualung” at the Longhorn is still spoken of with reverence and awe around here!


    Have I ever “done” karaoke? Heh. What do you think? LOL! Family. Friends. Pressure. Booze. “nuff said.


  29. Okay… what is the consensus for a verb… noun…

    Does one do karaoke? Or does one simply karaoke?

  30. patergary says:

    Wherever I visit a Filipino home here in the U.S., a karaoke is always a staple in their entertainment center. One of the famous brand is Magic Sing http://www.usamagicmic.com/?gclid=CLLe84_Ju58CFRRN5QodwWLQzw
    they have different model and prices to suit your talent.

  31. GoZagsGo says:

    I’m going to go with “to karoake”. Sort of like “to google”. According to the OED it is only a noun, whereas they list “google” as a verb in reference to the search engine (incidentally, to google is also a cricket term…), however common usage suggests that it is often used as a verb, as in “Who wants to karaoke tonight?” :)

  32. chironomo says:

    The man who was the best man at my wedding (in 1987) was the 2008 World Karaoke Champion (male)….and yes….the finals were in Thailand. I’m not sure what exactly is the difference between that and say, American Idol except that it’s all recorded. The videos he took of the finals seemed as though it was a whole lot of fun. Most of the participants are older than one would think!

    I too am a “Mack The Knife” fan…also do “Alone Again” and “Ferry Cross the Mersy”. I leave if someone starts singing “Unchained Melody”…yikes!

  33. TNCath says:

    The word “karoake” is usually used as a noun. I question its legitimacy as a verb. The term “to karaoke” is an infinitive. In a previous post, the sentence “Who wants to karaoke tonight,” the infinitive is used as a noun, functioning as the direct object.

  34. An American Mother says:

    I have karaoke’d once – a long time ago. Didn’t know ‘Mack the Knife’ in English, so sang it in German. All were confused, including me.


  35. TNCath says:

    Correction: I can see where “karaoke” could be used as a verb, but it is nonetheless an awkward usage.

  36. JaneC says:

    I did karaoke once, when I was in high school. It was not an enjoyable experience for me, although it was fun to see one of the English teachers sing “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena.” It seems to be a fairly common pub/bar activity in various places where I’ve lived, but I try to avoid it. Not that I’m down on all popular music, but I am not a fan of ’80s rock or ’90s country, which seem to be the most common genres I’ve encountered, and I dislike the electronically rendered accompaniment tracks.

  37. pelerin says:

    I vaguely knew what karaoke entailed but out of curiosity looked it up on Wikipedia and discovered the word was from two Japanese words – meaning ’empty’ and ‘orchestra.’

    No I have never taken part but understand that there are still pubs in England which have karaoke nights.

  38. Charivari Rob says:

    Yes, I have on occasion.

    It’s fun if you want to do it. I was part of one church group that would have an annual Christmas party, and one organizer insisted on bringing a home karoke machine to the party each year, and each table was browbeaten and coerced into doing a song. Fortunately, they forgot to pack the machine one year, or it would have been my last.

    I’ve sung willingly on a cruise ship and at a wedding reception. I’ve attended karaoke that is a regular fixture at a local restaurant (with musical theater friends). I’ve also seen it as an off-night/weeknight feature at the bar side of chain and local generic American restaurants – anything to draw people in when there isn’t a big sports event to have on the TV.

  39. EnoughRope says:

    Best karaoke songs: Bended knee (Boyz 2 Men), Its Raining Men, and All My Life (K-Ci and JoJo). Horrible songs but I love them! My dad sings too much Sinatra karaoke.

  40. RCOkie says:

    Never. I love to sing but know I am one of those who can’t hold a tune. I wouldn’t subject others to having to listen to me. As someone else here said, I make a good member of the audience.

  41. Francisco Cojuanco says:

    Too many times I’d rather forget. Seriously, you won’t find a well-to-do Filipino household with their own karaoke machine…

  42. tioedong says:

    Of course I’ve sung Karaoke.

    I live in the Philippines, and no decent party is a party without Karaoke, which we rent from a neighbor, along with tables and chairs.

    Oh yes: And we have a karaoke channel on our TV cable; you can text (from your cellphone) for your favorite song.

  43. J Kusske says:

    Wow, I had no idea Karaoke had become so widespread in the West! It seems to be a lot more public there though, with people in the entire bar looking on–in China and Japan it tends to be done in private rooms, or as the person above said at wedding parties, banquets, etc. There are a ton of karaoke parlors all over major Japanese cities (my favorite one is named “Big Echo”–the connotations are a bit different in Japanese I guess). I’ve done it from sheer necessity, but it’s not my cup of tea. When people ask if I like to sing I say yes, thinking choral singing, and they think I mean karaoke… But if they had Western songs like Frank Sinatra I’d be able to jump in more. (Japan might; China doesn’t.)

  44. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Yes I have. A little drinky-poo or two definitely helps.
    I have a Karaoke machine too, but I need a better one.

    Father, we all sing along with you in z-chat, but you just can’t hear us. You must fix this.

    “Straaaayyyyngers in the niiiiight…”

  45. J Kusske: Good to hear from you! Thanks for the confirmation of what I suspected about China.

    So… what songs do you do?

  46. patergary Amen to that!

    karaoke or here in the Philippines, videoke, where the lyrics of the song are flashed on the screen along with a completely irrelevant video or photo. It is a staple of Filipino homes.

    Maybe MagicSing can be on Father Z’s wishlist? Eh Father? [Ummmmm…..]

  47. Maltese says:

    If you scan bachelor dens throughout the world, I think you’ll find some of the coolest cats out there partaking in karaoke duos:


  48. Anthony OPL says:

    It’s a very asian thing, coming from Japan.

    In Japanese, you do indeed “do karaoke” (“karaoke-suru”). “suru” is a very versatile verb, meaning “do”, and is routinely attached to nouns that don’t have verb forms of their own (sometimes even replacing legitimate verbs).

    Here in Japan karaoke is very popular regardless of alcohol. Since I’m almost puritan in my drinking habits, I am never “suitably lubricated” yet still manage to have a good time with friends. We are poor exchange students studying here in Japan from all around the world, so while some of us would gladly drink before and while singing, usually we just opt for the cheaper (non-alcoholic) room rate.

    Back to “suru” – this is actually how Japanese would pronounce the name of Star Trek’s “Mr Sulu”, so he would be “Mr. Do”. His first name was “Hikaru”, which means “light”.

  49. J Kusske says:

    Glad to do my part to fill you in, Fr. Z! In Japan it isn’t so bad–you can get a wide selection of Western music. And some Westerners have learned to sing some Japanese songs, usually one or two that they trot out when needed to impress their friends. In China, it’s hard slogging. MOstly there are just Chinese songs (dreck of the worst stripe) and a very bare number of Westerns songs that have become endemic here for some odd reason (three examples are Yesterday Once More, Say You Say Me, and My Heart Will Go On). One time when I was at a karaoke parlor with Chinese friends I even had to do Happy Birthday to You because we couldn’t find any other songs in English! So I prefer doing karaoke in Japan and try to avoid it in China.

  50. jt83 says:

    who can resist joining in the chorus of a Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” or Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”?! Count me as another shameless karaoke ham!

  51. Agnes says:

    Karaoke? I have never done any such silly thing. I am not a silly person. Where is your pride, man!


  52. Random Friar says:

    Perhaps at your next gathering of WDTPRS faithful Father, you could have a sing off? If you’re ever in the Bay Area again, consider yourself challenged! I know where I can get my hands on a machine. Secular vs. mendicant: it’s ON! :)

  53. trespinos says:

    Personally, no. But I do get exposed to it every year at our garlic festival. An entire tent with beaucoup tables is set aside for it and a long line of folks come forward to do their thing, while the rest of us munch contentedly on our pepper steaks, garlic fries, shrimp, mushrooms and Italian chicken sandwiches. There’s no booze in that tent, but it’s a happy vibe nonetheless.

  54. swamp_rabbit says:

    Living in Taiwan, karaoke is everywhere… it’s not a wedding without the karaoke stage. Our Church has it’s own karaoke setup, and after Easter Mass, out it comes… There are a couple channels on TV here devoted entirely to people singing karaoke….. a number of radio stations as well. Karaoke pubs, etc… My wife sang a few numbers with our church’s aboriginal women last Easter. I believe the traditional rice wine helps… :)

  55. fatheranthonyho says:

    I like karaoke and I think I am quite good at it.

    Love to sing Chinese (Cantonese) songs.

    It’s good for a preist to relax and to sing from time to time.

  56. I live in Japan and Karaoke is everywhere. It is really fun too. True most of the time people are just barely getting the words out to a song but every now and then you get someone who can really sing. You can go to a place where everyone can see everyone or you can go to a place where you can rent your own room so only your friends can see you. Normally there are also snacks and drinks that you can order too.

    Karaoke is a normal thing to do after a party. In Japan parties have a set end time when everyone is supposed to leave. After the party a lot of people will go to the Karaoke place and that might last till well into the morning. Lots and lots of fun. What is really great is when you can sing some of the song you know better than the actual singer and you have an audience of people who like you that you can show off to. You don’t have to pick trashy music either, they usually have some good songs as well.

  57. Incaelo says:

    Oh, Hallelujah is a very good song. Buckley’s version, while good, is very much his version, though. Leonard Cohen’s is a bit more accessible for some people, I find.

    By the way, I had never pictured you as a busker, Father. [That was a loooong time ago.]

  58. eyeclinic says:

    Would that include singing along on the game “Rock Band”?
    If yes, then I’m guilty as charged.

  59. Jonathan says:

    Yes, Halleluia is a very useful song. It makes its appearance in the early Jack Nicholson movie, Easy Rider, but to best effect I think, in Shrek. Maybe I will learn it too, it would be an interesting karaoke standard.

  60. worm says:

    I’ve done Karaoke twice, once in a bar, once in karaoke parlor. I wasn’t very keen either time, but was with friends who were very into it. (Both times, it was people who had spent significant time in Japan.) In case it matters, when “forced” to sing, I did “They Were Kung-Fu Fighting” and “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” At the time they struck me as most forgiving songs I could think of.

    As for Hallelujah, I had not heard of the song before American Idol. I like the tune, but the lyrics make no sense to me.

  61. Agnes says:

    I think Fr. Z could do some amazing James Brown.

  62. worm: I like the tune, but the lyrics make no sense to me.

    I have seen two sets of lyrics. There are lyrics which my correspondent sent me, which seem a little more Christianized, and the original lyrics from Cohen.

    It seems to me that, in both cases, the invocation of David at the beginning shows that this is about regret after making a terrible mistake. And it seems to have to do with a dreadful infidelity, probably adultery, and its consequences.

  63. RichardT says:

    Thank you for your answer Father – it sounds like you have some interesting experiences in your past, but I’m a big believer in letting the past stay in the past.

  64. RichardT says:

    I didn’t really know the piece (heard it once, but found the music rather trite so didn’t pay attention), but I’ve just looked up the lyrics.

    As you say, it seems to be about improper love (which the reference to King David is probably meant to reinforce), although thankfully unspecific as to whether it is adultery, fornication or merely an obsession.

    I also looked up the original Cohen lyrics, and there Hallelujah seems to be used in a blasphemous sense, praising the woman who is the object of the singer’s infatuation.

    However even the Buckley version has parts that seem to have the same problem, plus a scandalous reference to the Holy Spirit (unless I’m reading too much into the first line below):
    “But remember when I moved in you,
    And the holy dove was moving too,
    And every breath we drew is Hallelujah”

    I wouldn’t give advice, but it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing a priest should be recording. Stick to Gregorian Chant, or Elvis if you feel like doing Karaoke – Blue Suede Shoes may suggest an overly materialist attitude towards footwear, but at least it isn’t blasphemous.

  65. cl00bie says:

    I enjoy Karaoke. When the singer is talented it’s entertaining. When the singer is not talented it’s *more* entertaining. :)

    I heard that Karaoke is Japanese for “tone deaf drunk with a microphone”.

Comments are closed.