Karaoke is a unique medium that brings people from all walks of life together. From professionals, to amateurs, to friends just out for a laugh, it is a platform for individuals or groups to get on a stage and sing their favorite tunes—with or without the assistance of libations.
“To me it’s the coming together of cultures. We have people of all ages and backgrounds. It’s great to be able to tap into that energy,” says Cooper Ruben, co-host of Piper Down’s Karaoke Night. “Music is a universal language. Whether you are pitch-perfect or can’t carry a tune in a bucket, everyone has a song in their heart. Karaoke gives you a chance to let it out!”
For many, going to Karaoke is an excuse to let loose and have a good time. Choir boy vocalist and avid karaoke attendee, Adam Klopp says, “It’s a fun democratic experience where people get to perform without scrutiny.”
For some singers it’s about paying tribute to one’s favorite artists. Alana Burson Pons says, “I think it is the appeal of having the chance to loosen up and have a little fun with friends and other patrons while singing your favorite songs.” Janis Joplin’s Take Another Piece of My Heart, Prince’s Purple Rain, AC/DC’s TNT, and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody remain steadily popular choices at most karaoke nights. Other karaoke staples include songs from Disney movies or from musicals such as Grease.
Bars that hold onto a loyal following do so because of the communities their DJs foster. Piper Down’s co-hosts Jaimal Ware and Ruben treat their attendees like family. “Our philosophy is, we’re just the hosts at a party,” says Ware. “It’s not American Idol or The Voice or anything like that. It’s not serious. It’s just fun and we want you to have fun doing it.”
While the main attraction is certainly to have fun, for the more competitive individuals there are karaoke competitions. These events test the talent of participants in an American Idol-type setting. Ruben says, “For some it’s been a spring board, but for the most part, people want to have their four minutes of fame on the stage and leave it there.” Some bars such as Lumpy’s Bar and Grill provide prizes ranging from gift cards to cash. However, despite the allure of prizes, too much pressure from song preparation and judging can take its toll and deflate the fun. “For me, karaoke is just for fun,” Pons says. “I think I will just stick to the bar for my karaoke fix.”
Karaoke can be found throughout the Salt Lake Valley, and there are a wealth of options to choose from. Piper Down is every Sunday and Wednesday, Cheers To You hosts on Fridays, while The Tavernacle Social Club hosts on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. For more about karaoke, check out their event calendars.