21 September 2009

Number Eighteen!

It's a karaoke term. Yes, my attention is turning back to Asia, for now, given how much I love karaoke.

In Japanese kabuki theater, 十八番 (pronounced "Juhachiban" with the u being a long vowel), or Number Eighteen, refers to an official list of eighteen best kabuki plays, dating back to the early 19th Century. There is also an alternative New Juhachiban list that consists of kabuki plays from the newer Meiji era. Today, some of the Juhachiban are no longer actively performed, but they are still being preserved for archival purposes.

In karaoke, Juhachiban refers to one particular song that a given person likes to perform at the microphone, in order to best showcase his/her vocal skills. So this Number Eighteen sounds more like a Number One.

Most people I meet at my favorite karaoke bars tend to have a very narrow repertoire. They may only stick to their one and only Number Eighteen, which can get boring really fast if I frequent the karaoke bar on a regular basis. In particular, the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" is the Number Eighteen of too many wannabe crooners, and especially gets tiresome. At my "home" karaoke bar (a lesbian bar in Van Nuys), I can name a number of regulars, and their Number Eighteens, quite easily.

My style is to change my songlist dramatically every time. As for Number Eighteens, I may actually have eighteen or so - or even more. If I absolutely must pull out ONE Juhachiban, I tend to use Anna Nalick's "In the Rough," since nobody else ever sings it anyway.

From now on, I'll be looking at taking on a different theme each night. The last time I went to my home karaoke bar, I had a lesbian theme - songs from lesbian singers (i.e. Melissa Etheridge), songs from rumored lesbians (i.e. Kelly Clarkson), and songs from heterosexuals that have a lesbian theme (i.e. "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry). I'm hoping to change my theme dramatically and have fun with that; my next visit will definitely feature a Mariah Carey theme, as a shout-out to my last weekend in Vegas.

Wikipedia: Karaoke
Wikipedia: Kabuki Juhachiban