Elton and Kiki

I realize, of course, that hundreds of thousands of people who don’t know any better make fools of themselves in karaoke bars on a nightly basis, but I can’t understand why intelligent journos who have a clue would degrade themselves in this fashion. “Hey, I have an idea! Let’s all go to a karaoke bar and prove to drunken strangers that we can’t sing or phrase as well as professionals! And are sometimes flat or off-key!” HE rule #39: if you’re not all that good at something, keep it to yourself.


MSN‘s James Rocchi and Cinema Blend‘s Katey Rich.


at some Las Vegas dive last night.

63 thoughts on “Elton and Kiki

  1. I have the exact opposite problem: way too many people (especially 30something women) seem to do Karaoke as song kind of open-mic song session, trying to be as good as possible. Karaoke is about fun and abandon, and a lot of that is embarrassment. There are limits obviously, but it’s better if you suck a little.

  2. To put is another way, I’ll take a fat guy struggling through More Than a Feeling over a Cat Lady earnestly doing Fleetwoods’ Gypsy every time.

  3. Used to go to a Karaoke bar where a guy dressed as Elvis did one or two numbers a night. But they weren’t Elvis songs. You haven’t heard House of the Rising Sun until you’ve heard it performed by the King.

  4. If pressed with James Rocchi holding a gun at my back, I would pick up a karaoke mike to sing Ricky Nelson‘s “Be-Bop Baby” or James Taylor‘s “Your Smiling Face” or the Rolling Stone‘s “Dead Flowers.” ( I can sing both the low and high harmony parts from the latter song, and I mean like a total pro.) Because I can do those songs without embarassing myself and my family and my ancestors…which is more than you can say for 98% of the people I’ve listened to at karaoke bars.

  5. I’ll have you know, Jeff, that James Rocchi is an absolutely outstanding singer in various genre. He brings the house down on a regular basis. I’ve never heard Katey Rich sing, so I can’t stick up for her.

  6. There’s definitely irony in your obsession with image and not embarrassing yourself, all the while flaunting with pride that horrific red racing jacket from a little while back.

  7. Yes, singing karaoke just means you are sad and pathetic. And god help you if you laugh too fucking loud while you are doing it. Or wearing goddamn sandals.

  8. One of the star attractions of HE: Jeff’s ability to infuse his readers with positive life-energy and the joy of being alive.

    All written by a man who pedals around town on a red 10 speed wearing bright yellow sneakers and red racing jacket.

    Buzzkill indeed.

  9. Jeff, I think you’ve already hit your goal of ‘dying alone and unloved.’ No need to keep swinging for the fences.

  10. Yeah, why do something just for the sake of having fun or building community? if you can’t sing like a pro, you might as well have someone give you a complimentary tracheotomy. God sure didn’t mean for you to sing if you can’t light it up for Ryan Seacrest. Neuter those fucking vocal cords.

    Hey, Japanese people: go fuck yourself for even suggesting that just the act of singing might be a healthy, engaging emotional outlet, one that builds lasting bonds between people. Instead, do the right thing and bust out your anal rape porn in the privacy of your own home, douchebags.

    I mean, Jesus. What is that entire culture *thinking?*

  11. I read that tweet and ranted about this on Twitter last night… I don’t know why I give myself the blood pressure spike by following so many of the movie blogger types, but I genuinely want to know:

    What IS with so many of these guys hanging out together? Wasn’t it what sent Jeff into his infamous mood pocket that one time? Wasn’t he stuck at some fest doing his Lex-approved LONE WOLF routine (no man really NEEDS friends), and he was annoyed by that whole “cool kids” crew all whooping it up? What is so communal about seeing movies? Even if he wrote for a pro blog or covered the biz like you guys, I like to see movies as a private experience, and not wedged in between singing karaoke with James Rocchi or having a big rowdy fest breakfast with that Houx, Gilchrist, Thompson, Faraci, Goss, Yamato crew that seems to do EVERYTHING together.

    What is the KEY to that posse? Do you just have to hang out at the New Beverly EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and for them it’s like a COLLEGE PARTY that never stops? Who needs that much companionship?

    Every time I check into Twitter, it’s like this–

    Yep, just kickin’ it with Yamato at the karaoke bar! Oh SHIT, Katey Rich up on the table like Coyote Ugly!

    Doing shots with Gilchrist and Houx! #moviebloggerparty

    Oh, SHIT, Anne Thompson’s had two gimlets and just took off her scarf for James Rocchi!

    @NewBev with Jen Yamato and LYT_Rules! Hanging with Eli Roth!

    It’s like this EVERY NIGHT. What is this RAGTAG crew of L.A movie bloggers, and how do I get to roll with them? It’s like the Rat Pack only REALLY LAME. Don’t you guys ever like to be ALONE WITH YOUR THOUGHTS for a few days?

    Fuck friendship and FUCK karaoke.

    Though if I did get to do karaoke, I’d totally sing EGYPT by Mercyful Fate.

  12. Karaoke’s not about singing any more than Twister is about yoga. The point is it’s a social activity that takes you outside of yourself, promotes interaction with other people, yada yada. Speaking as someone who has an unnecessarily inflated sense of dignity, I think it’s a good thing to put yourselves in situations from time to time where you have to abandon that dignity. It might be a little embarrassing if a video spreads around, but really, nobody’s gonna give a shit.

  13. Forgot to add to my last post: I can hereby commit an absolutely earth-shattering duet of “(What’s So Funny Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” performed by Mr. James Rocchi and myself that I will put on YouTube to horrify the masses and/or warm your Grinch-like heart.

  14. I’d rather spend ten years in solitary in the fucking prison from HUNGER than hang out with Devin Faraci.

    They probably smell about the same.

  15. LOL, Devin.

    “People do not seem to realise that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

  16. Yeah! I hate hanging out with other people, socializing with friends and coworkers, participating in good times and having fun! Screw that noise!

  17. James Rocchi…isn’t he the guy who just twittered that the only person interested in the “Avatar” sequels is James Cameron?

    After they gross billions und billions, I’ve got an Elvis song for him to perform: “(Now and Then) There’s a Fool Such As I.”

  18. The other funny thing about their little group is how they’ve identified that poor bastard Alex Billington as their ultimate nemesis. It’s like they’re so delighted to finally be “the cool kids” that they’ve manufactured their own little nerd hate-figure so they get the chance to bully him like they themselves were bullied in school. Publicly slating him every chance they get.

  19. It makes perfect sense that movie writers who are chained to various screens most of the time, churning out copy for long hours, would escape via such a physically expressive medium. Karaoke is exuberant social fun, even when folks aren’t good at it.

  20. It’s kinda too bad that Rocchi is apparently a really good singer — I’d rather hear him kick it Shatner-style, reading Britney Spears lyrics like a dramatic monologue.

  21. You guys can scoff at Faraci all you want (God knows I have), but when he’s right, he’s right. As someone who is regularly perceived as an individual who likes to stir up unnecessary internet trouble, I understand I don’t necessarily have a leg to stand on, but Jeff’s lately been rather willful about confusing “bracing honesty” with “stirring up shit and being unpleasant for no reason other than to demonstrate his innate superiority to everyone and everything else except maybe Phillip Noyce.”

  22. To somewhat go off Glenn Kenny’s post, I am still incredibly curious to know why exactly SALT was such an amazing cinematic experience that it deserved to be championed as a watershed.

    I saw it. It was fine. What am I missing?

  23. Kenny: To be fair to Wells, at least half of his grumpy-man schtick is done for the amusement of the regular readers. He knows it makes us laugh. The people like Faraci who think he’s a genuinely joyless individual clearly don’t get the joke most of the time.

    And it’s ridiculous for Faraci to berate someone else for being miserable, when the dude spends most of his energy telling people they’re morons for liking something that he doesn’t like, or acting like the Movie Blog Police and laying into any site he doesn’t like (Pajiba, The Playlist, etc.) or bemoaning “hit-whoring” headlines all day long.

    The guy is a rotund tub of pure anger, so to hear him criticize Wells for being glum is a bit funny.

  24. So Jeff, I guess you won’t be listening to our upcoming series of Cinema Blend duets?

    I’m with you in that I don’t get the appeal of this sort of thing, personally. I’m not a hang out in a crowd kind of guy, let alone a sing badly in front of a crowd kind of guy, but not sure why it matters if other people want to do it. Especially since they are keeping it to themselves, that’s why you do this in a Karaoke bar isn’t it? If you’re in a Karaoke bar you’re doing it in front of people who want to hear it and don’t mind it. If we really do publish a series of Cinema Blend duets, then feel free to attack us for it.

    People get lonely in this job, which is most of the time extremely solitary. It requires hours and weeks of work sitting at home, alone, pouring yourself into a computer. Karaoke seems like a pretty harmless way to balance that out. They’re probably living a much more balanced, healthy life than we are, hunched in front of our computers typing frantically without much human contact.

    It’s not like they’re not hanging out in Movie Blogger opium dens. Though if someone wants to start one of those, I’m in.

  25. Rashad, I don’t know what you mean by that. I was being slightly sarcastic in my post, but I was late to seeing it and when I finally did was surprised anyone could have that strong of feelings about it either way. I was genuinely curious for a serious defense of it as a superior work because, as a film fan, I like when passionate people disagree with me and make me see differently or even re-evaluate something.

    Or do you just mean that Noyce and Wells are buds? In that case, I got my answer.

  26. As Jeff Wells mutters to himself while refusing to participate in karaoke, “They can’t take away my diggity.”

    As if . . .

  27. People don’t go to lkaraoke bars hoping to see the next Lady Gaga or Celine Dion They’re there precisely to let loose and not be afraid of embarrassing themselves. It’s the anti-American Idol.

  28. Since my posts may have been too film-centric for this thread, I will offer that I think my karaoke debut will probably be “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi.

    And I will no doubt be drunk. (I also don’t know if anyone else has written this above but part of the appeal of karaoke, especially if you’re bad, is that you’re belting out a song, without worrying what others think. It’s probably healthy and part of this thing called “fun” or a “good time”.)

  29. “It’s not like they’re not hanging out in Movie Blogger opium dens. Though if someone wants to start one of those, I’m in.”

    Having just watched my Blu-Ray of Once Upon A Time In America the other night, I’m now picturing Jeff as that older tough guy who goes into the Chinese Theatre/opium den and harasses the customers, except instead of rubbing the barrel of a gun on some woman”s nipple he uses his samurai sword to lop Rocchi’s cravat off at the knot.

  30. This thread didn’t become the 100-post get-me-thru-the-worknight wonder I was expecting, but also wanted to ask… Elton John? Really? Why do I get the sense all movie bloggers except for Glenn Kenny have a musical frame of reference that ended around 1980? I know the CREW in question is circling 40, but really… no Diddy Dirty Money or Rihanna or Kesha or Katy Perry or Jordin Sparks or Drake or, hell, LIMP BIZKIT or Sugar Ray?

    Christ, tonight at Sardo’s in Burbank some douche was KILLING IT on “O.P.P.,” which even as a 20-year-old song is probably too New School for Anne Thompson when she cuts loose and unfastens JUST enough of the bonnet that you can see earlobe.

  31. Rocchi looks like an alternate film universe version of D-FENS. The one where he lives and gets to eat breakfast at a fast food joint any time he wants.

  32. Lex, I think nostalgia of some sort does have something to do with the overall appeal of karaoke. You should see how they do it in Japan. First time I went to a karaoke bar in Tokyo, around 1988, it was the weirdest thing, because there was no irony or even “fun” involved. Even the coolest, most removed looking people there all got up and, to a one, sang lachrymose ballads about how much they missed their homes and families. In Japanese…the only two song in English on the whole menu were “Love Me Tender” and “(Take Me Home) Country Roads.” Really.

    On the other hand, I did once see a roomful of youngish NY film journos “rock” a karaoke version of that Vampire Weekend song “Oxford Comma,” which is relatively current, if not actually good.

    I haven’t been CLOSE to a karaoke event since I quit drinking. Coincidence? Or part of God’s wonderful plan for me?

  33. Maybe that’s why I never got invited to hang out with the movie bloggers and Tweeters before I moved out of Los Angeles… I don’t blog or Tweet. I do, however, Karaoke on occasion, in the kind of Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, half-sincere/half-sarcastic way. But it takes a lot of alcohol to get me up on stage.

  34. Re Eloi Wrath’s post:

    Not to play dogpile-on-Billington too much, but the one piece of his I tried to read (interviewing Kathryn Bigelow on HURT LOCKER) sounded like he was somewhere on the blurb scale between Jeff Craig and Peter Travers.

  35. yes aslinda Maybe that’s why I never got invited to hang out with the movie bloggers and Tweeters before I moved out of Los Angeles… I don’t blog or Tweet. I do, however, Karaoke on occasion, in the kind of Bill Murray in dgrudur

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