Sunday, July 11, 2004

Karaoke Cowboy Brawl

We have to shake things up a bit. It's time to scare people. This is what I was thinking as my friends and I finished the third pitcher of beer.

"Go get the book," I said, as I burned the roof of my mouth on the searing grease of a fresh onion ring.

We were in a Karaoke bar in a "less-than-fortunate" area of Springfield, eating onion rings and fries, drinking cheap beer by the pitcher and shooting cheap pool. There was something wrong with the setup here, and I couldn't quite place my unease. Maybe it was the Super Mario sounds coming from the electronic poker machines. Maybe it was the strange tales about the joys of being jailed overnight that were being fed to me by some guys shooting pool next to us. No. It wasn't that. Those things are fairly common.

Just then, as a small woman began to belt out of key "And I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I will always love youuuuuuuu...", the Christian pop metal sensation Creed came blasting from the jukebox. That's when it hit me. That's when the unnerving presence showed its face. There is a conflict of interest here. Who plays a jukebox in a Karaoke bar? And who picked Creed?

It's a moot point to ask who did it; the damage had been done. The nature of the offense was so baffling, so terrible, that the only thing to do was to get back at all of them. Everyone would have to pay for this. That's when my friend Eric came back with the Karaoke book.

"We gotta do something over-the-top, man. We gotta do something that's gonna rock this place," Eric said.

"True. We have to take them to a whole new level. We have to show them the glory," I replied. Tonight is historical. This would be our first Karaoke performance. We ordered another pitcher.

As we flipped through the pages of Shania Twains and *NSYNCs, it became clear that we might not find that diamond in the rough. All the good songs seemed to have bypassed this book. What we wanted was Slipknot. We wanted Wu-Tang Clan. We wanted Pantera. We wanted, no, we needed, something slash and burn. Something that will take these people by storm. But it started to grow dim. The idea of singing our first Karaoke song was beginning to seem like a distant dream. Absolutely terrible music dominated the massive list. I wondered if all Karaoke books were this bad.

As we finished up the fourth pitcher, the oppressive list was beginning to weigh down on us. But then we saw the song, shining and sparkling like the numbers on a winning lottery ticket. The sound of angels swept the room. Amidst the pantheon of Elvis Presley and Billy Joel songs, the country ballads and teen pop jingles, was the perfect song: Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction."

"Get the slips, we found one!" I shouted over another squealing woman in the background. Eric and I began to plan our attack. We would have to warm up our vocal chords for this one. Megadeth must be done properly. We ordered shots of J├Ągermeister.

Two or three songs later, our time had come. The woman gave us the microphones and the metal riffage began. I looked out into our sea of fans and knew we were the ones who were going to bring the glory home. "This is a song about world domination," I informed the crowd. That's what Dave Mustain would say, right?

Our friends, all of whom moved up to the front of the bar to cheer us on like the righteous groupies they are, were laughing uncontrollably. The faces of the elderly were frozen in horror. The cowboys began to crack their knuckles. This was the sound of all hell breaking loose.

No one can deny the power and beauty of Megadeth, especially when it is being sung by two of the most amazing metal vocalists of our modern era. Oh yes -- we are the best. Our falsettos and growls and screams and bellows were unhinged with a fury that had never been heard before. Not only were our voices glorious, but our handling of the guitar solos by means of air guitar and darting tongue were undeniably the best treatment of Megadeth since, well, Megadeth.

We are the kings of the Karaoke. There is no question.

Surprisingly, after the song, we were greeted by no one. We were not approached by bikini babes or leather jacket rockers. No one seemed to notice us after we walked off stage. It was almost as if they were afraid. Maybe we were too good.

Then it started to dawn on me. I'll bet that's what the girl singing the Whitney Houston song was thinking when she was on stage. Maybe she saw her performance as spine-tingling, earth-shattering, or any of those common combinations of adjectives that critics like to use.

Now that I think about it, I did hear the jukebox playing a Kenny Rogers song or something. It was well over halfway through. The only way it could be that far into the song is if ... yeah, I see now: They started it right about midway through our performance.

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