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.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • 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).
  • 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.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.
  • Face Paint
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