Chris Diccion: King of Karaoke

Written by David Green.


Chris Diccion is no stranger to karaoke. But competitive karaoke? Now that’s something new. At least it was new a few weeks ago, before he became a karaoke king.

The Morenci graduate—now an Ann Arbor resident—was on a bowling outing near Jackson when he heard karaoke going in the lounge. Of course he stepped to the microphone for a couple of numbers, and his performance drew some attention.

“I was urged by the hostess and waitstaff to enter a contest that would draw participants from the Ann Arbor, Jackson and Lansing area,“ Chris said. “It featured some pretty sweet prizes.”

Billed as the first annual “Tune in a Bucket,” the competition featured an all-expense paid weekend vacation, 150 free CDs, a songbook with 240 musical numbers, and get this—studio time to create a 10-track demo disc.

chris Not bad at all, but Chris wasn’t easily convinced.

“I enjoy singing and I usually get a good crowd response, but the idea of entering a contest of this scale seemed absurd to me,” Chris said. “It seemed to go against the spirit of karaoke—just havin’ some fun.”

Besides, he says, it’s hard enough for the casual singer to perform in front of a collection of half-numb drunks, let alone a panel of critical ears.

Chris had discovered that a whole subculture of singing freaks exists around the karaoke stage, encompassing a wide array of personalities.

“I knew I’d be up against some type-A’s, most with talent to boot.”

The pressure from family and friends didn’t subside, and with it, a sense of curiosity grew within Chris. Besides that, he said, there was always the feeling of regret that would pester him later if he never gave it a try.

So finally he signed up, along with more than a thousand others. Chris competed in Ann Arbor for seven weeks of elimination rounds, always advancing another step up the ladder.

Finally, on May 12, ten finalists remained for the finals in Lansing. Competition got underway at 7 p.m. in front of a five-judge panel. It was 3:30 the next morning when Chris’ rendition of Bobby Darin’s “More” made him the champ.

A love for music

Prior to the age of karaoke, Chris’s “public” singing career was limited to church choir, a few weddings, high school graduation, etc.

“But privately, music and song have always been a passion,” he said. “Trying to sing to my favorite songs gives me a greater appreciation of the song itself—a better understanding of how and why it was made, and its unique style.

“That’s why I like to try different types of music. Throughout the competition, I was usually either rapping to Eminem or crooning to Frank Sinatra. There’s a certain satisfaction in recognizing—validating—both types of music through song.”

The prizes from the competition are a great bonus to the effort spent in front of the microphone, and it’s the free studio time and CD that excites Chris the most.

“I haven’t compiled my list of 10 songs yet, but I’m sure of a few,” he said. “I want to choose wisely, of course, something that will stand the test of time to my ears. I’m pretty self-critical.”

Now that it’s all over, people ask him where he goes from here, or, more specifically, “What about American Idol?”

“C’mon now,” is Chris’s response.

What an absurd idea. That’s about as silly as toppling a thousand karaoke warriors to be named the best in central Michigan.


May 28, 2003 
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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