Thursday, July 16, 2009

On the subject of "Pop Star"

I didn't mean to steal the show. Okay... maybe I did.

Last week, my family and I took a cruise to Alaska aboard the Golden Princess. I had been excited about this journey for months since we booked it. To prepare for the trip, I was looking over copies of the Princess Patter, the daily newsletter of the cruise, from the days when my wife took a cruise.

There it was... tempting me like a great looking woman in a catsuit... yes... that strongly! (dozens of friends laughing hysterically right now.) "Be the star that you are - Princess Pop Star - If you are good, you're good, but if you're bad, you're better."

This competition seemed tailor made for little old shy me. Get out there and rip apart a performance and be awesome. It was the exact idea behind "Seattle's Most Awesome Karaoke Performance Ever!" At least that is what I thought.

On the second night of the cruise was the first night of the competition. I was there early to sign up. Lindsay, the nice member of the Cruise staff was there to take the sign up. They did not have the song I wanted to do, which was to reprise Jungle Love by Morris Day and the Time - the song I had done at the Awesome Karaoke Competition. So I looked and saw they had Rapper's Delight. Not only did they have it... they had three versions of it.

"Use the first version," said a helpful Lindsay. "It's usually the best."

I turned in my slip with the number and the selection and asked her not to tell what the song was that I was going to do. I was dressed in a full on Tux and a top hat from the night's formal activities. It was the perfect performance outfit, I thought.

Lindsay took the stage and welcomed everyone... and said, "no one likes to go first, but we have to have someone do it... so here is our first performer, Jon!"

I took the stage and talked a little bit with her saying "I know what you are thinking, tux and top hat... Frank Sinatra?" She laughed politely and said to go ahead.

When Rapper's Delight began... there was a very long intro... so I tried to get the crowd into it... and finally broke into the song... from memory. I went all through the crowd in the Explorer's Lounge to cheers, laughs, claps and smiles... I was barely able to keep up with the song after four minutes, but knew I had two minutes to go... or so I thought.

I finished the part of the song that I knew (the single version) when I noticed the music wasn't close to stopping. So I broke into my version of "Rehab" to the tune of Rapper's Delight. The crowd laughed and wondered where the heck this guy had come from. (Seattle actually)

When I got through Rehab, the song was still going. I finally said "Yo, Lindsay" to which she responded, "Yo, Jon!" I asked if this was the 12 minute version of the song, and she said "Afraid so!" I replyed, "if I go any longer I am going to have a coronary."

Big cheers, big laughs... I thought I was a shoe in. Remember - if you are bad, you're better! I only had to make the top three. Well, singer after singer went... and three of them were quite good. The crowd went with the singers rather than the performer, so I came in fourth.

I asked Lindsay if I was even close... and she said that they loved it, but the crowd vote went another way. I could, however, enter again on Wednesday night.

Wednesday morning, I woke up very early and went onto the balcony of my room. I thought that if I could wow the crowd that I might have a chance. I pulled out paper and pen and started writing a parody song to the tune of "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry.

I practiced all day and was ready to perform. This time I would get to go sixth. None of the performers were very awesome up to my performance, so I felt good.

Jorge introduced me and asked me what I would be singing. I responded "Katy Perry" but in a different way! I had taped my lyrics to the screen and they wondered what I was up to.

I started the song "This was never the way I planned, not my intention." People laughed and thought I was singing the real song... but I continued.

Got so brave, ring in hand, I needed intervention.
I'm down on my one knee, Oh my God, will she say yes?
Or if she just says know, who else would I impress?
I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry chapstick.
I kissed a girl just to try it, hope HER boyfriend don't mind it.

There were laughs and cheers... and I thought I was getting to them. I continued.

We're going down the aisle now, God, it's too late.
But that was 15 years ago, guess it was my fate.
Pick up a loaf of bread!
Honey, would you mow the lawn?
Could you be home by 9?
Grey's Anatomy is on!

More laughs.

I kissed my WIFE and I liked it, the taste of her Avon lipstick, (Biggest laugh)
I kissed my wife just to try it, hope the pool boy don't mind it.
It felt so wrong, it felt so right, hoping that I will get some tonight,
I kissed my wife and she liked it. She liked it?

My wife she is so beautiful,
she loves me its a fact I know,
Tonight I want to have some lovin', oh
What's that? You're tired?
At least I have the H B Ohhhhhhhhhhh!

Well I thought I had nailed it. I didn't sing it perfectly, but for stage presence and entertainment value, I could not have done better. Jay, of the cruise staff, thought I was nuts and asked me if I like to perform, to which I said, of course. He guessed the name of my show was the Jon show to which I said... no, it's actually called Breakout.

Sadly, I came in worse than third, which meant I missed the finals, and my dreams of being on the big stage were dashed... or so I thought.

Thursday night, I was privileged to see the wonderful people who had entertained me all week show their even more entertaining side. The show, the International Crew Show, highlighted the talents of many of the crew members as well as the Cruise Staff. There were a lot of great performances but two topped them all.

Adam's performance of an original song could have easily put him on American (Or Australian) Idol. Actually, I think he might be a triple threat, and believe someone needs to discover him and put his talents to work. Comedy, Music and Acting... he can do it all.

The other was an old vaudeville routine called "If I were not on the Sea." Lindsay's Lorenna Bobbitt and Gemma's Nurse were hilarious. Heck, they all were. I saw a little more of Cruise Director Dave's Arabesque than I would ever want to however!

Later that night, we received the Princess Patter in our room. The Patter is the calendar of ship activities for the next day. I opened up the Patter and there it was mocking me. Princess Pop Star finals tonight at 10:30 - not to be missed. Also there was an item about Talent Show signup and rehearsal... 9:30 AM in the Wheelhouse Bar.

I had not been sleep well all cruise, so I woke up early again on Friday and was wide awake at 8:15 AM. I went to the Horizon Court and had some breakfast. I then had the idea that I might just have fun in the Talent Show and wouldn't it be funny if I did an act about not making it into Pop Star.

Out came the pen and paper... which made me feel light years younger as normally I would be using the computer to write ANYTHING! My self imposed exile from all things computer was hampering me, but I would not be deterred.

Pen in hand, I wrote a parody song to Rehab... yes, the same song I had sung a million times before. The song went like this.

I tried to make it into Pop star,
they said No, No, No.
Know I can't sing, it don't mean a thing,
This I know, know, know.
If I could get on stage, I know I'd be the rage,
But when it comes to Princess Pop Star,
They said Go! Go! Go!

I couldn't dance in Ballroom Blitz.
Gemma said I moved like sh_____it's a family show.
Cause there's nothing, nothing she could teach me,
That could have made a difference anyway.
Lindsay said "Just go take a Class!"
But the ship was moving so much,
I kept falling on my my ass.

I tried to make it into Pop star,
they said No, No, No.
Know I can't sing, it don't mean a thing,
This I know, know, know.
If I could get on stage, I know I'd be the rage,
But when it comes to Princess Pop Star,
They said Go! Go! Go!

The Cruise Director said "Why are you here?'
I said I have an idea.
I'm crusin, crusin with my honey.
So I thought I might just be funny.
He said, "you must have been misled."
"Drink this, buddy then go back to bed.

I tried to make it into Pop star,
they said No, No, No.
Know I can't sing, it don't mean a thing,
This I know, know, know.

I may never get to cruise again.
That's why, ooh I need you friends.
I just tried to spend all week.
To make you all laugh until the end.
You can't say I didn't try.
But to not make the finals just made me cry.

I tried to make it into Pop star,
they said No, No, No.
Know I can't sing, it don't mean a thing,
This I know, know, know.
If I could get on stage, I guess I should just turn the page!
Cause, when it comes to Princess Pop Star,
They said Go! Go! Go!

35 minutes and I had a song... and into the Wheelhouse Bar at 9:30 arrived Assistant Cruise Director, Ben. Sadly, he and I were the only two in the bar. That meant, there would be no talent show. I told him it was ironic, as I had written a song about being upset about making it into Pop Star. He thought I was joking.

He read the song, and laughed out loud and said... "well that makes it easy, we'll just have to put you into Pop Star." I was quick to tell him that I appreciated it, but I wanted it to be fair to the people who made it fairly. He said that I would perform in a showcase performance while they tallied up the votes.

When I arrived for Pop Star rehearsal, the other contestants were perplexed. When I stepped up to the mic and sang the song, they got the joke totally, so happily, I was a welcome addition in their eyes.

I spent most of the day rehearsing, but could not get through it all. I was amazingly nervous. So I came up with the idea that it would be presented as a letter of complaint to the Cruise Director. That way, I could carry the lyrics with me.

Showtime approached and we all went back stage led by Jorge, Lindsay and Jay. The contestants were all nervous, but I felt great. The pressure of not competing was just fine! When I changed into my human mirror ball disco shirt and top hat, they all had a laugh!

One by one, the contestants sang, with Billy and Ashley presenting the greatest performances. Lindsay from the Cruise Staff was doing the "green room" interviews and making everyone laugh with her "technical difficulties" some brought on by an apparent empty bottle of champagne. It was this bottle of champagne that led to me taking the performance to another level.

As I was being introduced, I took to the stage drinking from the bottle, looking lost, like I had just wandered onto the stage. David introduced me, and I told him to hold the bottle.

The performance went beautifully.... and you can see it here!

After I was swept off the stage by Lindsay, the smiles backstage were broad. It was what I had really wanted all along. It was not the winning of the competition, it was just the chance to take the big stage... a 750 seat theatre, with bright lights and a great sound system. It was what I had based the Karaoke competition at Jet City on, except this was way beyond that.

Upon leaving the ship the next day, I was having a tough time holding back tears. It had been a wonderful time with my family. What was making it so difficult was the fact that I had an emotion I hadn't felt since I was a teenager.

Back in Seabrook Island, SC, I have fond memories of some incredible friends who I made when they traveled to the resort island on vacation. They would enter my life for one or two weeks, and I would feel like I would always want to be their friend, although I understood that I would never see most of them ever again. Back then, I would be pen pals with some of them.

Now in the days of Facebook, I may never get to see them, but I can still be in touch with the 2009 version of pen pals. I am so pleased that Lindsay, Gemma and Jay have become my Facebook friends, and I truly hope that some day, they might look me up and say hello if they get some time in Seattle. If nothing else, I will, like most of my FB friends, keep them laughing with some fun status updates and a message or two from time to time.

To the Cruise Staff of the Golden Princess, thanks for letting me play on your boat, and thanks for being such awesome people. I am honored to call you friend, and hope you will always know this crazy guy will always have a special place in his heart for each of you.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger