At times, karaoke conjures up memories of people singing badly to over-played songs in a bar.
But for some, the karaoke scene in Carbondale is growing and becoming a staple of weekday late nights.
Hangar 9 and Key West Bar and Grill have karaoke nights, and attendance is increasing as people find their niche in the spotlight.
Caylan Hill, event manager and senior talent buyer at Hangar 9, said the trend is growing in Carbondale.
“Karaoke is just a fun thing whether you are of age to drink or of age to get into the bar,” Hill said. “You can still have a great night either way and I think it’s a win-win for anybody looking to go out that evening.”
Hangar 9 has karaoke night every Tuesday on its dollar night. Hill said Tuesday nights are the bar’s busiest night right behind Friday and Saturday.
“I think karaoke separates us from other bars’ dollar nights,” he said. “It’s not always about the drink specials; there’s gotta be some entertainment and karaoke sets us apart from anywhere else.”
Hangar 9 has hosted karaoke nights for more than a year now, and by 11 p.m. the sign-up list is full, he said.
Southern Illinois karaoke company Music in Motion provides the karaoke to Hangar 9, but they aren’t the only karaoke kings in town. Memory Lane hosts karaoke multiple nights a week at Key West. With the longest standing karaoke in Carbondale, Key West provides a more laid back vibe for those who have stage fright of singing in the spotlight.
Key West manager Lauren Uffelman said the bar plays host to karaoke Thursday and Friday nights.
“It’s been very popular since we started doing it six years ago,” she said. “I think people like it because it doesn’t matter how good of a singer you are.”
Uffelman said the tropical atmosphere of Key West gives people a more relaxed vibe than the craziness of the bars on the strip.
Whether one goes to Hangar 9 or Key West for karaoke, they will always find the “karaoke regulars” who have a love for the music.
Michelle Newman, 22, has done karaoke several times and keeps coming back for more.
“It’s just fun—it gives you a chance to let go,” she said. “As long as you have fun, no one cares how good you are.”
The regulars aren’t the only ones who get into the spirit of karaoke. At one of the karaoke nights, a couple sung the iconic song from Dirty Dancing, “Time of My Life”, and ended it with the famous lift to the applause of the audience.
“Once we had a group of girls who had planned a whole dance routine. They had dressed up and passed the microphone around like a girl group. That was definitely (memorable),” said Hill.
As for what songs seem to be the most popular picks, singers often choose to stick with familiar tunes, he said.
“People will sing basically anything they know the words to,” Hill said. “The girls like to do more of the 80’s sing-along thing while the guys more than likely choose rap songs. I hear a lot of Sweet Home Alabama.”
The audience also gets a kick out of the familiar songs, whether they are cheering on their friend onstage or watching other people sing off tune to a Celine Dion hit.
Jenna Buchholz, a senior from Waterloo studying broadcast journalism, said she can often be found in the audience.
“I think it’s entertaining. It gives a chance for people to laugh at themselves,” Buchholz said. “Sometimes you get some real gems who surprise you with their talent.”
As for herself, Buchholz won’t be hitting the stage anytime soon.
“I’m more of a watcher, but I guess if I had enough drinks, I would sing ‘It Wasn’t Me’ by Shaggy,” she said.
It doesn’t matter if one is a trained singer or if it i s their first time at karaoke-anyone and everyone can get on stage because the beauty of karaoke is that you don’t have to be good at it.