November 27, 2009

Picking a Duet.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:33 pm

microphones_smDaughter, TJ, was at the House by the Parkway for Thanksgiving, and I picked up the guitar so we could do a bit of music while the turkey was roasting. As many of you know, TJ is a very good singer.

So, as we were sort of taking turns with tunes, which always highlights the difference between our styles, I being more of a saloon singer and she being more of a real singer, she mentioned that friends of hers (who have since become friends of mine and Mrs. Parkway’s) are planning yet another karaoke party. They are serious karaoke peeps and have all the very best equipment. They’ve held these parties in the past and, I’m told, they well-attended and are lots of fun. They’ve always invited us, but, for one reason or another, I have not been able to make it. This year looks like a “go.”

TJ said, “I know they are going to want us to sing a couple duets.”

Me: “Cool, so let’s pick out a couple tunes that might work.”

Given that I can carry a tune and she can sing, and given that we both have lots of experience singing publicly, picking out a couple duets to sing at a karaoke party should be a snap, right?


Here is just a sampling of the problems:

1. The Lyrics/Theme (the Ick Factor).
When you think about male-female duets, most of them are love songs, and I don’t mean love, in the abstract sense, but rather “Googley-Eyes at Each Other” or “Let’s Hit the Sack” – type love songs. It’s impossible for a father – daughter duo to sing those songs without pegging everyone’s “Ick Meter” at a solid 10. Think about the lyrics to “Endless Love” or “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” and imagine a father singing those songs with his daughter. Ewwwwww. Mondo creeeeeeepy. Major Ick.

So, we came up with some possibilities that avoided the Ick Factor.

2. The Key.
Our respective vocal ranges are such that we tend to sing comfortably in different keys. Given her wide vocal range, there are some tunes in which our ranges overlap. This key thing is less of a problem (or a non-problem) if I’m playing guitar, as I can just find a key that works best for any given song. But, at a karaoke party, one is stuck with key used in the background on the karaoke disc, which, more often than not, I’m told, is in the same key as in the record. Finding a workable key further reduces the possibilities from the list of songs that survived the Ick Factor cut.

3. Finding the Karaoke Version
At this point we have some songs that survived the Ick Factor cut and may be sing-able in the key of the original record, but now the problem is to find a karaoke version in either the key of the record or perhaps a different sing-able key. Oh yeah, assuming you can find such versions, they can’t be “over-produced” (i.e. where the harmony part is already provided so one person can sing the melody with pre-recorded harmony). We’ll do our own harmony, thanks.

I haven’t begun the serious karaoke version search yet, but I’m not real optimistic.

I’m beginning to think that if there really is a demand for a duet, I may have to bring my electric guitar to the party and turn off the karaoke machine for a bit, but I don’t want to run afoul of karaoke etiquette. ”Ooooh, look. Mister Fancy Schmancy brought his guitar. What a dork!”

Life is full of tough choices, peeps.

Father – daughter duet suggestions? I’m all ears.

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