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There’s nothing but irony at karaoke, or there is none at all. “It’s a chance to be sentimental!” my friend said. It was true. In the handful of times I’ve been (and rarely participated; OK—once—“I Can’t Make You Love Me.” OK, and another time—with a friend—“You Oughta Know.” I only regret the latter) I’ve noticed a not-insignificant number of men, at the bar by themselves, solemnly performing when their time came. They aren’t in if for the laughs, at least so far as I can tell. (Maybe they’re in it for the bacon?) One middle-aged man last night performed a sort of party-time pop-country number, I’m not sure what, and then returned to his seat at the bar. He had what resembled paperwork in front of him. He wore khakis. Another solo patron, whom I recognized as a local business owner, sang some old standard, and then returned to the mike later for an inoffensive-given-the-circumstances version of a truly execrable song, Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day,” that lite-rock disaster. “Against All Odds” seems a standby, and it was performed in turn by the khaki man, and this is the point: that’s a song that needs to be performed with hipster detachment or 100 percent pure sincerity. “There’s so much I need to say to you,” this guy crooned. “So many reasons why.” Indeed.
Bonus: “Against All Odds”—and by extension Phil Collins—figures into one of my favorite This American Life episodes. Listen here!