čtvrtek, října 05, 2006


Karaoke in Prague, or... OUCH my EARS hurt!

I wonder why I chose not to do pop music studies. Last night I showed a few visitors from California the joys of Karaoke in Prague. (I just felt Karaoke had to be Capitalized, especially in Prague!). I had been once before to Meloun, a little joint down on Michalská, that charges 60 Kc (about $2.50} for one entry and an evening of unlimited belting out of Czech and American pop tunes. I had wanted to choose (beware this supercomplicated website) Madonna's 'Like a Prayer' or No Doubt's 'Don't Speak,' but my recollection of the varied (failed) attempts of both songs on recent installations of Česko Hledá Superstar made me think otherwise. (See a comment I posted on my own entry about CHS). Both are really difficult to pull off, have certain high notes in tricky places... and are essentially tied to the identity of the voices portrayed by female protagonists.

First observation: the crowd was much smaller than last time I went, probably due to the lack of summer Czech language students who populated the scene during my first outing.

Second observation: At one point one of the patrons got up and sang 'Žizen lasky' (trans. as 'Thirst for love' redone in 1999 by
Leona Machálková) to the music of Flashdance's 'What a Feeling!' it's a real treat to listen to a song done in a foreign language that you're familiar with in its original language. Here are the lyrics to 'Žizen lasky'.

Two of the other patrons who seemed like regulars based on the ease with which they took the stage did end up choosing 'Prayer' and 'Don't Speak'; in my estimation a really really gutsy call. They did well under the circumstances.

My contribution to the evening was 'Lemon Tree' by Fool's Garden. I had only recently become acquainted with this song. A fair song to be sure... but easier than some others chosen. The song was taken by Jan Kříž (click here for a .wmv of his version) in last week's CHS semifinal. I think his version fared significantly better than my attempt. For one, I couldn't hear myself sing (a must ....), and, I don't have a big fat voice, confirmed by the d.j. who kept egging me to sing 'hlasitějši, hlasitějši!!!' (louder, louder!!!!). But I was able to keep my intonation, which is of utmost importance to me as a composer-musician. (I, like Milton Babbitt, really like pitch.) Sorry, that was a quote from Milton when I met him in Cincinnati in 1999. Incidentally, Milton's musical upbringing was rooted in jazz and popular music, music which has pervaded even his more abstract works. In 'Lemon Tree' there is a line that goes 'I'm turning turning turning turning turning around' which I wanted to enact on stage but couldn't because of the mic lines. Also, I wish there had been a real lemon tree on stage.

All in all a decent time, even if my musical training, self-consciousness, (and lack of alcohol intake) prevent me from having a typical all-out karaoke experience. And I managed to put Milton and Madonna in the same blog! Photos of me doing 'Lemon Tree' will be up soon in an updated version of this very blog.

Sounds like an upcoming outing--if we could handle re-enacting movie scenes, I'm sure we can tackle Karaoke (capitalized or not). :-)

I kind of read the last paragraph first, and for a moment I thought you were talking about Milton the writer not Milton the composer! That was funny. I knew he had a sense of humor of sorts, but I didn't realize that his connection to pop was that close. Interesting.
Is the karaoke bar open on the 26th?
Hubes, et tu? Now that I can read about the exploits of you, Karla, Alex and Jesse online, it's just as good as being in the CZ. No, wait, it's better. Or at least it will be better when it's zero degrees there and I'm eating dim sum under blue skies here... but you'll be back in the US by wintertime, RIGHT?

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