My first real karaoke experience began at “KJ” Sexy Chocolate fired up the Godfather of Soul and proceeded to shake and spin better than he sang; apparently, he felt good (ba-da ba-da ba-da bap – he knew that he would). Chester rocked New Jersey-style (“Wanted Dead or Alive”), we couldn’t talk CJ or Sarah & Natalie into anything, and I alternately killed Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee” (melismas + Nebraska boy = noooo!) and gave a straight, if inspired, take on “Say It Ain’t So.”

But the evening’s gems were the potential social research master’s theses just lying around the club, waiting for someone to pick them up and run:

“Achieving Status and a Reputation for Humility Simultaneously Through Human Spectacle” – What is the nature of the dual attraction we universally feel towards live microphones, and its associated nervous fear obeserved when possession of a mic is obtained?

“Towards a Unified Model of the Repression of Awareness of Irony” – In the subgroup of people who take karaoke seriously, how is this inherently unstable worldview maintained? (It would seem to collapse either into postmodern detachment and amusement, or the realization that karaoke is not a credible venue for serious, non-ironic artists – yet the phenomena of taking karaoke seriously endures in some individuals).

“Juxtaposition of Culturally-Defined Opposites as a Source of Meaning” – Combining sociology with aesthetics, how does the re-introduction of humanness (imperfection) into the object of pop music contribute to the value of a karaoke performance? Case studies: Young bartender barking Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know” as a passable hardcore song. Asian woman covering “Hotel California” respectably. First-year seminary student absorbing crowd with a performance of “Immigrant Song.”

Credit to Tina for the better half of these. If you actually write the paper, promise to send us a link!