Photo courtesy of the Gladstone Hotel.
Recent reality TV shows have skewed our conceptions of talent contests. Gone from recent memory are the days where you could waltz onstage for two minutes, hum a few bars, and shuffle offstage with scattered applause. Nope, now it’s always at least fifteen minutes of fame, good or bad―whether you wanna be on top or watching your work from the wings. In our very scientific study of new-fangled TV “talent” contests, we’ve discovered that they tend to devote roughly fifty per cent of on-air time to he-said she-said drama, thirty per cent to commercials, fifteen per cent to advertising during the show, and a measly five per cent to showcasing actual work, mostly done by actual contestants. Where have all the real, raw expositions of ability, the show-off spots for those born with the magic musical touch, gone? Fortunately for you and your ear drums, they’re not on display at a public school talent show where brand-new violinists practice onstage (we can feel the collective cringe from here). Better yet, you don’t have to waste your time on Ben Mulroney and the latest display of Canadian idolatry. Instead, turn your ears to Queen West, where the local baritones and balladeers take turns wrapping their hands around that sweaty, shared microphone.
For the fifth year, the Gladstone Hotel is hosting Karaoke Superstar, a chance for anyone nineteen-or-older to dazzle the audience with his or her ability to read from a screen in perfect tune and perfect time. Though weekend regular Peter Styles will be replaced at the host’s stand by Eyes on Toronto‘s Stephen Eyes, all songs will, as usual, be selected from Styles’ songbook.
But there are a few noteworty amendments to the rules this time around. For one, you can no longer rely on an obnoxious crew of buddies to cheer you the whole way to the top―the Gladstone’s patented Applause-O-Meter is out of commission this year. Instead, each ballot comes only with a purchase from the Gladstone menu. It’s just painfully unfortunate that Molson products are the only ones worth two votes. After all, the beer boys are the ones paying the bills ($1000 for the winner, $350 for the runner-up, and $150 for third place). Further, the Gladstone has done away with Styles’ wild-card choice, reducing the competition to a who-can-buy-the-most-drinks popularity contest. Despite the unimpressive rule changes, we understand―the poor guys at the Gladdy have gotta keep their good business going somehow. And besides, it’s always a good time to go and sing your pitch-perfect guts out, or at the very least, go and make fun of the people who can’t.
Audience-judged Karaoke Superstar goes down at 9 p.m. tonight, next Thursday, and the Thursday after at the Gladstone Hotel. Expert and local celeb judges will award the grand prize to the best karaoke star on February 26.