Never Do "Freebird" or Frampton Comes Alive at Karaoke
There is one KJ in town who knows me by name as well as some of the songs that I sing. Every time I see him, he calls me to the stage to sing a song of his choice, even if I haven't signed up to sing. I usually say no but get pushed up there by friends. I'm not sure what to do. Confronting the KJ may jeopardize my "in" with him, but not saying anything forces me to sing the same songs week after week against my will! What should I do? -- Here Comes a Regular
Your KJ is either magnificently brilliant or a total douchecanoe.
Interacting with karaoke regulars is one of the hallmarks of a decent KJ. It shows that the host knows and appreciates their contributions, and it boosts audience affinity because others in the crowd then aspire to be namechecked. I have no qualms about springing a duet on a singer if I'm familiar with his or her favorite songs and if I'm certain they'd be up for the challenge. The singer usually enjoys the spotlight, and the audience cheers for the throwdown.
Familiarity, sensitivity and good humor are key, though. I'd never force someone to sing a tune they didn't know - especially as a solo. And there's a special place in hell for KJs who pick shy people out of the audience and force them to either sing or battle for their dignity. That's like an asshole comedian who bullies and berates quiet audience members and claims it's funny. At best, it's awkward, and at worst, it's psychologically damaging. Either way, not cool.
You don't sound like a wallflower, but clearly you're not happy with your KJ's actions. I'd recommend talking with the host, preferably before the show even begins. If you can tell them quietly and personally that you're not into the song surprises, you may be able to retain your good relationship. After that, if the KJ continues to call you out, it may be time to find another singing spot.
Karaoke should be fun, not intimidating. Let me know if I need to film an after-school special about this.
As a Friday-night karaoke host at a South County bar, Allison Babka receives her share of drunken song dedications, occasionally makes people cry and even has been glorified by a singing psychic. She's considering adding "Call Me Maybe" to her personal karaoke repertoire, and she hates herself for it. Bug her with karaoke nonsense on Twitter at @ambabka, and use #rftkaraoke.