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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • 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.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.

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