I have to admit up-front, I’m not mad keen on karaoke. It’s never played an important role in my life or really ever filled me ereeith any great pleasure. It’s always seemed to just be something that other people did, like croquet, or sudoku, or crystal meth.
I have however taken a certain interest in the subject recently due to the fact that my fabulously talented brother and his two equally talented mates are planning to sing Karaoke for 24-hours on Saturday to raise money for a local homeless charity.
I’m a crap singer, that’s no secret. If you’d ever happened past my bathroom window of a morning you’d know how bad I am, but it’s never held me back in life. My dislike of karaoke doesn’t stem from a lack of my own talent, but more from my aversion at having to share in other peoples’ broken dreams.
In my limited experience I’ve found that there are too many people out there who take karaoke a bit more seriously than their singing ability should allow them to. Karaoke is a bit of fun, and if singing isn’t your strong point but you’re prepared to get on stage for a laugh, then I’m with you all the way to Amarillo. But if you are forcing Celine Dion down my ears at every opportunity because your mam said you should have won the final of the junior talent completion at Barmston Beach Caravan park in 1991, then you’re doing it all wrong.
My brother Paul is crazy about it though. I guess it helps that he has been gifted with the incredible voice that I so cruelly missed out on, and perhaps has a more forgiving temperament when it comes to people with stars in their eyes. He’s good though, really good, he’s the kind of singer that could cause a hen-party to put their inflatable penises and Jägerbombs down for a minute to listen to him.
My efforts at performing karaoke are limited to a couple of drunken fumblings in darkened half empty rooms, like the time I was press-ganged with the promise of a large expensive drink onto a small stage at an old mans pub one wet Wednesday afternoon in York. As I reached the big chorus finish of Sweet Caroline one of the old boys at the back shouted “Sing it Malcolm!” Which is still to this day the highlight of my short-lived singing career. My only other karaoke experience of note occurred in the bar of the surprisingly seedy Hilton Hotel in Hanoi, where I mistakenly answered in the affirmative to my Australian host when he asked me “Do you want to get fucked?” Our different interpretations of this question led to me getting incredibly drunk and singing Vietnamese karaoke all night, and him spending the evening with a number of prostitutes.
So I don’t think I’ll ever understand why my brilliant little brother and his two musically gifted friends (Darren and Ash) are so crazy about karaoke. But at least they are putting their skills and enthusiasms to good use. The Sing4Shelter Karaoke-thon commences at 5pm on Saturday 4th February on the main stage at Mix Karaoke, New Briggate, Leeds. The money they raise will go to Leeds based homeless charity St Georges Crypt. They are going to be singing non-stop for 24-hours, so when the club closes at 2am the lads will partake in a spot of ‘car-eoke’ as they travel to the New Foundry Recording Studios in Knottingley, where they will continue to work their way through all the karaoke classics before coming to a climactic and emotional finish at 5pm on the Sunday.
The whole karaoke-thon is being live-streamed on Facebook, and if you happen to log on at about 10.30pm GMT on Saturday you might be lucky enough to catch the video that I recorded in Myanmar. Through the wonders of modern technology you can witness first hand just how bad I really am at karaoke.
I’m particularly pleased with their philanthropic efforts, as (if you are a regular reader of this blog you’ll know) I have an interest in the problem of homelessness and rough sleeping in the UK. If you fancy supporting my brother and his mates in raising funds to go towards the amazing work of St Georges Crypt homeless charity in Leeds then please go to the Sing4Shelter gofundme page. Even if you can only afford to donate the cost of a pint it will make a huge difference, and every donation received on the night will spur the lads on through their mammoth singing marathon.
As you may be aware homelessness and rough sleeping are huge problems currently faced by many thousands of people every day in the UK, and the problem is getting worse year on year. The number of people sleeping rough on the streets of the UK has more than doubled since 2010. Charities such as St Georges Crypt rely heavily on public donations to continue their important work in the local community.
Although exact figures are difficult to establish, local and national homeless charities are expecting the numbers of homeless people to continue to rise as the delayed effects of the economic downturn, cuts to social care and housing benefit and other reforms all start to take effect. According to recently released figures by the Department for Communities and Local Government in the UK:
One family becomes homeless every 12 minutes
Which is 5 families an hour
Or 120 families a day
Which equates to around forty four thousand families becoming homeless each year in the UK.
St Georges Crypt is a Leeds based charity that works with the homeless, the vulnerable and those suffering from addiction. The charity was launched during the economic depression of the 1930s when the church’s crypt was opened as a shelter, they now help around 90 people a day and have plans in place to build a number of “half-way houses” to help future residents become fully independent.
And if you are that way inclined, head to Mix Karaoke on Saturday and join the lads for a song. And if you are still aggrieved at being beaten into second place at the junior talent completion at Barmston Beach Caravan park in 1991 by perhaps the worst rendition of “Crazy Little Thing Called love” that has ever been sung on stage, I’m sorry. Now is your chance to shine!