When I was in junior high my best friend Robyn got what was then called a "Singing Machine." It came with microphones, two tape decks, and some tapes with only the music to popular songs. There was also a book of lyrics. There were Disney songs, pop songs, even rap. Well, Robyn and I were in hog heaven, each of us harboring a secret wish to be famous singers some day, and both of us loving karaoke with a passion. The arrival of the Singing Machine coincided with the arrival of a video camera at my house, and, well, the rest is history (and can be viewed on more than a dozen 8mm tapes).
Our first documented moment with Singing Machine was our rendition of a Vanilla Ice classic. Try to imagine two awkward girls in oversized rugby shirts and mouthfulls of braces bobbing their heads and trying desperately to keep up with the lyrics to "Ice Ice, Baby." I was the worst looking, for I had both a perm, AND very short do-it-yourself bangs. And, though I thought I was very familiar with the song, the lyrics kept sneaking up on me. One of my best moments was when I suddenly said "VANILLA" in a low, thick, slow voice during the usually whispered "ice ice, baby. . . vanilla ice ice baby" chorus. The other was when I said this: "now that the party is jumpin' with the BASS kicked in..." but instead of saying BASE (as in the instrument) I said BASS (as in the fish). I'm pretty sure that Vanilla Ice was referring to the instrument, but it's hard to get the image of a kicked-in fish out of my mind every time I hear the song. This is how backward and strange I was as a 13-year-old.
Another proud documented Singing Machine moment was when Robyn and I made a commercial called "Ed McMahon and Bill Cosby Sing the Classics." It was in the style of those long commercials for "Love Songs" or "All the Best of Conway Twitty" you see on TV late at night, only in this one I played Ed McMahon and Robyn played Bill Cosby. Using the microphone and music from the Singing Machine, we sang "Kiss the Girl," "Somwhere Out There," and "Memory." The funny thing is that, because I wasn't raised on Disney and Broadway (like Robyn sort of was), I did not know all the words. No problem, there, cause Robyn could just fill in for me with her Bill Cosby gobbledeegook (zazzumblip, blizzonblazzon, etc.) (I guess you have to be familiar with the early nineties SNL skits that made fun of Bill Cosby to understand what that means.) Robyn wore a total Heathcliff Huxtible sweater and a beret. I wore a suit and tie, and large glasses with a bridge across the top. During the parts that I didn't know the words, I "oooed" and "ahhhhed" in the background and yelled "YES! Ha, ha!" in my best Ed McMahon voice. The best part was during the specially arranged, a'cappella version of memory. Robyn started out with her Bill Cosby-ese and then there was a long pause while I tried to remember what lyrics came next. Suddenly I burst out with "touch me! It's so easy to leave me! All alone...."
Maybe this is one of those "you had to be there to understand how funny it was" kind of blogs, but what I am really trying to get across here is how much good old Singing Machine taught me about vocal performance at a young age. I owe everything I am today to Singing Machine.