Chris Diccion: King of Karaoke

Written by David Green.

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.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.

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