I do like a karaoke evening. And, so it seems, do all three of our children.
Heather, in stark contrast, is strictly a spectator when it comes to karaoke. So I think it’s safe to say they get it from me, then.
Music and me
Music has always been a big part of my life.
In truth, though, I was never much of a musician. I played the flute for five years at school but was passably competent at best.
I have a good ear and memory for music. The music round was always my specialist subject at pub quizzes. But I’m no singer. I’m never going to be mistaken for Freddie Mercury. (Freddy Krueger, more like.)
Having said that, I love to sing. In the car. When I’m out walking. And, as was the case last Friday, on karaoke nights.
I sing a lot. I’m painfully aware that I have a limited vocal range and only manage to hit about one note in every four – on a good day. But it doesn’t matter. Singing is a release. It destresses me. It lifts a load off my shoulders and, well, makes my heart sing.
Music and our kids
Our kids are the same.
When Isaac was still a restless toddler, he would regularly wake up in the middle of the night. Watching music videos together in a darkened living room was how I would get him to sleep. Music was his thing too.
Toby is obsessed with Eurovision. Kara has recently taken to singing Queen songs with me in the car when we’re doing the gym run. And all three know the soundtrack to the musical Hamilton inside out.
Okay, Isaac’s the only one of us who can actually hold a tune – he was the singer in a short-lived band with a couple of his local friends – but that doesn’t stop us from singing. And why should it?
Katsu and karaoke
Anyhow, this time last year a friend hired the upstairs room at a local Japanese restaurant to celebrate her husband’s 40th birthday with katsu and karaoke. It went down a treat. Apparently Marco and I performed, among other things, a duet to Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time. Thankfully there is only photographic rather than video evidence of this event.
After Kara’s solo camp-site karaoke performance of YMCA during our summer holiday, the germ of an idea started to grow. I suggested to our friends that we should repeat last year’s karaoke evening – but this time include our children too. They agreed. And so there we were on Friday night, with the kids practically inhaling sushi and noodles in their rush to get on with the karaoke.
It would be fair to say that the level of anticipation and excitement was high. The karaoke machine was switched on. Plates were cast aside and grown-ups elbowed out of the way in the stampede to get hands on mics and select the first song of the evening. (Queen’s We Will Rock You, as it happened.)
Isaac, Toby and Kara had been looking forward to this evening ever since we put the date in. They spent most of the week talking about little else. So, unsurprisingly, they were all willing participants, belting out a broad selection of tunes including former Eurovision winners (that would be Toby, then), more contemporary tracks and a smattering of 80s classics. (They truly are my children. All those hours forcing them to listen to Heart 80s in the car has paid off.)
Kara by name, kara-oke by nature. She may be our youngest child but she was right in the thick of things and gave as good as she got. Of course she had to do YMCA again – it’s officially her song now, as well as the obligatory Disney numbers. But she also dived right in to Lady Gaga’s The Edge of Glory – not an obvious choice for a seven-year-old, but one that she and I had been practising in the car for weeks. Of course, I didn’t actually get to sing it as Isaac stepped in instead.
Adults often need a little liquid encouragement to get their karaoke groove on. Kids, however, don’t have any such inhibitions. Long may it stay that way. Our children are now at an age where they and us can enjoy many of the same activities and share the same experiences. It’s better with them than without them.
At the end of the evening, our three were still going strong. You’d have thought that my party piece – Billy Idol’s White Wedding – would have been enough to empty the room. But no. They had to be practically crowbarred out of the room, bundled into the car and then carried to bed.
It was a loud, crazy evening, one that achieved that rarest of feats by living up to their expectations. So, of course, they’re already clamouring to do it again next year.
I’d better start looking at dates in diaries …