Sing, Sing a Song

Karaoke's hip. What's next, the return of the leisure suit?

Case in point, a Scaraoke virgin, RSK's Nabb, is wailing on a Susan Tedeschi number near Rid's setup in the back of the restaurant; a train of people stand behind her waiting to sign up for their own songs. A bachelor party is raging, and there's frightening talk of Helen Reddy, Boston and Eddie Money. Luckily, a death metal version of "Like a Virgin" distracts the bachelors. Between performers, Rid shows his DJ chops, kicking out upbeat and unexpected tunes such as Mr. Peppermint's "If You're Happy and You Know It," so there's no down time.

Scaraoke may be nestled in the back of a restaurant, with no stage and a bit of an impaired view, but there's an artistic, hip, almost in-crowd vibe. "I just encourage singers to act out and use their imagination and not just play to the original," Rid says. It works. Over the course of the evening many performers offer renditions that span snarky, silly, theatrical and downright good. Rid's stellar song options and obscure in-betweens have successfully played to a bar full of musicians, album collectors and music snobs alike.

It's surprising but true: At some point, and we don't know exactly when, karaoke became cool. Sure, there are still heinous sports bars with white-capped assholes riffing Bob Seger every six minutes, but more often we found, at least in Dallas proper, hosts and hostesses making an effort to provide a variety of songs. In turn, performers and patrons respect that effort with spirited renditions and selections that reach further than the overdone "Sweet Caroline" and "Hotel California." Aldridge, the RSK bunch and Mr. Rid all pack their respective residences with ambitious regulars and hopeful newcomers each week before the card-carrying performers and bands hit the weekend stages. And all we can say after weeks in this karaoke circuit is, "Pass the mike."

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