Music Makes the Bourgeosie and the Rebel

singersinger I love to sing, but am unfortunately only mildly talented in this area. My singing talent peaked in 1985 when I shocked my fourth grade teacher at P.S. 55 in Staten Island when I got up and sang all of my heart out “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” “Tina Lee!” Mrs. Sybil Warnick the teacher said, she was floored, more because I never said a word in class, never mind sang a whole song. I was intensely shy, but she was casting “Fiddler on the Roof” that year, and boy, did I want a part, so I told myself to do it and I blushed like a tomato for hours before and after, but it was the first time I really went for something. It was a character defining moment. I got cast as Golda, the mother character, in “Fiddler on the Roof,” beginning my long, twisted, confused road on my Korean-Jewish American identity. That same year, my family and I went to visit Korea for the first time since I was born and my relatives begged me to sing songs from “Grease.” (And I was too shy to oblige, though I had many, many fantasies of being Olivia Newton-John and had acted out the end scene in the amusement park with some other little kid peers who shared my same babysitter.) (Another aside: I think my friend Becca actually wished Olivia Newton-John was her mother. That’s kind of weird, huh.)

I remember an article in the Times or some such Commie rag (heh heh, I’m kidding, I read it like every hour) that analyzed the vocal ranges of current pop singers. Morrissey and Madonna apparently have the smallest range of all recording artists today (perfect for me), which brings me to my next topic — songs to choose when in a kareoke bar.

Songs that show off your voice well:

*La Isla Bonita by Madonna
*Anything by the Smiths or Morrissey
*About the Weather by 10,000 Maniacs
*Sk8ter Boi by Avril Lavigne
*Don’t You Want Me by Human League

Songs you shouldn’t sing, unless you excel at this sort of thing, or you’re just drunk:
*Your Song by Elton John
*Kiss by Prince (Please, for those of us who came of age in the 90s, it’s hard to witness people’s private, sensual selves come out whenever this song is on. Perhaps, I just speak for myself.)
*Anything by Melissa Etheridge
*Welcome to the Jungle by Guns n’ Roses
*Endless Love by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie. (I just tried it. Very hard to sing a song where the vocalists are like actually really good.)

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