I was once a regular at Logan Square bar Golden Teardrops’s Thursday night karaoke, but singing in a crowded basement is the opposite of safe during an airborne pandemic. I was resigned to lingering in livestream comment sections until mid-April, when my friends Erin McAuliffe and Matt Munhall sent an invite to virtual karaoke.
Virtual karaoke is just singing in your home, cueing up your own backing track on one device as you sing into the webcam of another. Liberated from the restrictions of an impartial MC with a finite songbook, you’re able to perform any song you can summon from the depths of the Internet. Rejoice in Megan Thee Stallion’s “Big Ole Freak.” Go for those high notes on “Zombie.” Sing Alanis Morissette three times.
To get in the proper spirit, I donned a loudly multicolored 90s Bulls long-sleeve that had accompanied me through the highs (housewarming parties) and lows (stumbling home from shows) of going out, sometimes in one night. When my turn came, I cued up “Loser,” Beck’s 1993 slacker-rap breakout hit. I stomped around my one-bedroom apartment, mugging into my phone as my girlfriend Mary followed with her phone camera at a second angle. As the first verse concluded, I brought out the pièce de résistance: a clip-on fish-eye lens saved from a corporate event years prior. When the chorus hit, I belted “Soy un perdedor” while jumping off my couch, my image rendered in the trippy bulbous view of a skateboarding video.
I can’t wait to get back to karaoke in the flesh, but it won’t be the same without a little cinematography.