Carpe Kareoke

Last week, a friend celebrated his birthday at a small Korean karaoke joint. The kind with private rooms and a songbook as thick as a brick. About three quarters of the book was in Korean; the sing-along lyrics had typos and accidental homonyms in every track; and the English-language pop songs were from 2003 or older.

None of this mattered, though, in fact it added to the charm.

It turns out a 30th birthday — the first out of grad school, the first on the open job market, the first with old friends and new making awkward conversation — requires only the privacy to passionately rap every pre-emo, post-Nirvana song released in the last 90s.

Hardly a song was played that didn’t spring from my middle school or high school repertoire of mix tapes and later, burned CDs.

There was a great deal of R.E.M., the Smashing Pumkins, The Verve, No Doubt; even the Spice a Girls, Ace of Base, and Natalie Imbruglia made appearances. But this new friend and his old mates constantly gravitated to a certain angry So-Cal semi-rap — the metal-light of Limp Bizkit,

They even did the voices. And the hand-over mic-grabs made famous on old-school TRL.

It was an intense personal flashback, songs filled with obvious memories and a wild nostalgia.

For the first time, I saw that look in our peers I’ve seen so often before in our parents. A fond wistfulness, an energetic remembering, the fabric of our younger selves woven in music, and donned like an old prom dress “just one more time”.


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