Theory: There are great singers waiting to be discovered. Then there's singers that defy the standards of actual singing to be categorized as "singing."
I'm tone deaf. I'll admit to it. So I'm envious of anyone who actually can sing...and anyone with the chutzpah to get up there and try it when its more than obvious that they can't sing. I call this "singing." And then there's anyone who can't sing that I'm not envious of because, let's face it, they shouldn't have tried in the first place. I call this "insane."
If you spend enough time lurking around on the internet, You Tube, or watching Family Guy, you're likely familiar with a video of William Shatner singing the Elton John song Rocket Man while holding something that we don't believe is a cigarette. Going on that video, there is another video involving Leonard Nimoy, young ladies in bright clothing, and a song about Bilbo Baggins. You could surmise that the years after Star Trek were lean. And you are correct.
I could talk about these two videos - that would be easy. But no way, I'm going for the gusto in this one. In this installment, for your consideration, three individuals with the chutzpah to get up there and sing their hearts out, without any consideration for how awful they look and sound. But you have to admit, it makes for great laughs.
Enjoy...with earplugs if you prefer.
Eduard Khil - I am Glad, 'Cause I'm Finally Returning Back Home (aka Trololo)
The hypnotic title screen. I don't speak Russian, but I think it means "In Soviet Russia, Man Points, Laughs, and Sings for You! (Slur Against Americans)"
Eduard Khil may have sung this..."song" (seriously, is this really considered singing, or a song?) in 1977, but it was 2009 when it became an Internet sensation and meme. This was the year it was uploaded to You Tube, and it began to appear on various television shows by early 2010, but was especially well-known by its brief appearance on Family Guy and The Colbert Report. The song, "composed" by Arkady Ostrovsky, originally had lyrics (mind blown) about a cowboy riding his horse back to the farm. But, those lyrics weren't used out of spite after a falling out between songwriting partners, and this was the result.
Eduard Khil's comical entrance behind a wireframe gate is the tipoff that this is going to be hilarious, and it only continues from there. During a round of nonsensical singing, mocking, and laughing, Khil sings with a passion seen only in performances of much higher caliber. His confidence is unwavering, and commendable, as if he believes in his heart of hearts that his performance is on fire, while his facial expressions suggest "drunk on the local vodka," and his eyes suggesting "vacant" and "lobotomized brain."
A collage that suggests Eduard Khil has many facets - high as a kite, opera singer, overconfident, lovable, mocking, and high again.
After he finishes making us wonder if he's laughing at us, Khil waves to his adoring viewers, all of whom are pouring bleach in their eyes after seeing this, and makes a (painfully slow) exit behind those insane wireframe gates. This man has more confidence than is considered legal or normal without chemical influence, and he has the moxy to show it. Good show, Mr. Khil!
And because I like my toture to be non-exclusive to my mind, here's Eduard Khil singing for you!
Sammy Stephens - Flea Market Montgomery
Ok, so not an actual song in the sense of the word, but Sammy Stephens had it somewhat right when he put together this low-budget, high-laugh factor commercial to tell Montgomery-area residents about what his flea market sells and to impart the belief on us that "it's just like, it's just like, a mini MALL!" Stephens, clad in the same shirt and tie, but with different suits that would impress any fashion-forward man, performs his song while dancing for us, popping his eyes, and planting his butt all over the furniture in the showroom.
Living rooms, bedrooms, dinettes...
...you want it, we got it. At Flea Market. Montgomery. It's just like, it's just like, a mini MALL! HEY HEY!
The irony is unbelievable - white "angel" suit, evil expression. Buy my furniture or rot in high-markup department store HELL! Sez my POP-EYES!
He does this so female customers want to cook for him.
Come to Flea Market. Montgomery. It's just like, it's just like a mini MALL! Plenty of parking for EVERYONE! Think Wally World, except we're open and it looks like this everyday!
Sadly, the Flea Market. Montgomery (sorry, I promise I'll stop!) has since closed (as of late 2009-early 2010), but Stephens is going strong with his entertainment career. You have to admit, he does have a certain charisma.
The actual advertisement is only 30 seconds, but I believe in torture, so I'll subject you to the 2 minute version. You want it, You Tube's got it. Hey hey! Come on, sing along, dance to the left! To the right! Buy the furniture or pay the price...in high mark-ups. You know you want to. You'd be crazy not to. No seriously, if this place was still open, you'd have to go there and support Sammy.
Larry Hooper - Oh, Happy Day
The Lawrence Welk Show was a long-running variety show, targeting families with 1950s ideals and old ladies who think the male singers are "such handsome men." The singers, many of whom were non-professional acts from "The Finger Lakes" and other parts of the United States and of varying walks of life, converged on the champagne-bubble filled set to sing and dance and have some good-old fashioned fun.
My now-90 year old grandmother was a huge fan of this show (she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2003), back when it aired and well into the time she became a grandmother. Because my grandmother's conception of what passed for "Entertainment" in the 1990s had something to do with what passed for "Entertainment" in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, she used to force this Seventh Circle of Hell on us unsuspecting grandchildren well into our teenage years. This from the woman who watched 21 Jump Street when she was in her 60s because she thought "that Johnny Depp is a handsome boy." Its the little things I love that give me such great memories of the years before my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I may mock, but this loving tribute makes me smile when I think of all the times I said "No, I'm not watching Lawrence Welk. This show is boring! What is this crap?!"
Unfortunately, most of what aired on this show was a farce. And none were more prominent than a gent named Larry Hooper, who was a regular "singer" on the program throughout the 1960s. He was also a pianist in Welk's orchestra since they performed in New York in 1948. He left the program in 1969, and after several years of recuperating from health issues, he returned in 1973 to sing the video you're about to take a look at.
He only *looks* like the harmless guy at the Senior Center that hits on your grandmother. But he's actually there to charm your grandmother with his "singing." Next thing you know, she's footing the bill at the Early Bird Special...I'm sorry, where was I going with this?
Larry Hooper performed the song Oh, Happy Day on an episode that paid tribute to Disney, the first episode of the 1973-1974 season. It was his return to the program after a long hiatus, and his adoring fans, likely a bunch of blue-haired ladies in their 70s, were thrilled to see him return. I can't figure out why, he's not the greatest singer I've ever heard, and I've heard myself sing more than a few times. I said it with Eduard Khil, it takes confidence to perform this way (not to mention chutzpah, don't forget chutzpah!). Chemical influence and local vodka don't hurt either.
A collage of the facets of Larry Hooper - happiness, thoughtfulness, blinded by the lights, opera singer, and in the center...happiness again. Sorry, Eduard Khil rendered me unable to describe facets - he overused that ability.
Sadly, Mr. Hooper left the show for the final time in 1980, and passed away from kidney failure in 1983. Damn, this article is depresing - Eduard Khil passed away, Sammy Stephens' mini MALL! closed down, and Larry Hooper was not well and eventually passed away - can my readers send me some antidepressants? I need chemical influence after writing this, its just plain old sad.
So, without further interruption, here's the song Larry Hooper sang upon his return to the champagne-bubble stage...thankfully, this is the short version:
I say this is the "short" version because I discovered a longer version when I went to see Howie Mandell perform stand-up in Atlantic City in 2005. Apparently, this is an experiment/trick he plays on the audience - loop the tape many times over and see how the audience reacts. As he watching from a hidden camera and monitor backstage, the unsuspecting audience is forced to watch this video. I remember the audience I sat in at Tropicana going through ten (yes, ten, that's how long this song is!) stages:
Ok, how long is this song?
Who is this guy?
Acceptance - Everyone begins to sing along
Ok, this is a little long....
...Why does it keep going?!
...What is this?
No seriously, what is this?!
Make it stop dammit!
(Tape pauses) Audience cheers...(Tape rewinds and starts over)...Audience freaks out.
The audience I sat in in 2005 actually got to a point where a small group of people where holding hands in the air and swaying back and forth. I expected lighters to come out next. Going to see this show means taking the acceptable risk of leaving with this song burned on your brain...the whole "extended" version. The ushers don't warn you of this when you arrive. They make fun of you when you leave because you're singing like you had a lobotomy.
There it is again, such depressing writing contained within!
And, as I've mentioned, torture is non-exclusive in my world. THIS is the nearly 10-minute version of the video, recreated by a very brave soul who also saw Howie Mandell in person. And also believes in torture.
Thanks Howie! This song stuck with me for days after I saw you in person!
I recommend watching this version with your family and/or friends...you need people to help you go through the stages of dealing with this video...and witnesses when you try to break the computer you're watching it on that will vouch for your momentary blackout. Remember, it was all an accident.
And there you have it, three examples of "singers" who had good intent, chutzpah, and perhaps some chemical influences at hand...and seriously took it to a whole other level. Three internet sensations, two of whom never knew the gravity of what their performances would result in, and one who rode the wave of success when it came for him. If you like to sing, but are really questionable with your ability, measure yourself with these three gents, and determine if you stack up.
Have an example of a song that became an internet sensation long after the song had been performed, or an example of truly awful singing? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading (and watching!). Where's my bleach?