Karaoke Night lights up the Observatory

On the first day of St. Patrick's Day weekend, the campus bar was packed with karaoke fans singing everything from crooners to country
Photo: Claire Donnan
Christina Mackey, SHINE Karaoke owner, warms up the audience with some Tones and I.

With little fanfare, SHINE karaoke owner Christina Mackey stepped onto the Observatory stage to perform a cover of Dance Monkey by Tones and I.

The packed audience of mostly students, some in green, turned to the stage and began to clap and cheer as Mackey started the Karaoke Night event with a bang.

Karaoke Night on March 15 was a free, all-ages event where anybody could get up and sing a song for an excited audience. SHINE karaoke’s song list changes weekly, so there’s always something new to sing

“We have stuff that just came out on the radio,” said Mackey. “We have everything from classic 1930s crooners to the newest Dua Lipa song.”

Students milled around the Observatory as the evening progressed, grabbing drinks and chatting with friends. The turnout before the singing even started was exciting to Mackey.

“I do the Carleton University [karaoke events] as well,” said Mackey. “There’s more people here than there is at the beginning of their events.”

The chatter of the evening was who was going to sing, with friends egging each other on and only agreeing to perform if another person went with them.

A crowd of students and community members sit around tables at the Observatory, an industrial-looking restaurant with support columns.
Some of the crowd at the Observatory, including Labelle, Murray and Carling (Left to right at table 22, posing). Photo credit: Claire Donnan

Early childhood education students Reece Carling, Madison Labelle and Zanti Murray were particularly excited to sing karaoke classics with their friends as they pre-gamed their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The conversation jumped back and forth on which songs they would be singing.

“Nickleback,” said Labelle. “Animals by Nickleback, Rockstar.”

“Maybe Carrie Underwood?” said Carling. “Before He Cheats, that’s a big one.”

“I’m thinking of some Soulja Boy possibly, some ‘crank that’ action going on,” said Murray. “Maybe some ‘yuu’, ‘Superman’, you never know.”

Anytime anyone at their table suggested they would not be participating, the answer was swift and simple: Yes you will.

After Mackey, Xander Wynberg was the first student participant. The broadcasting- radio and podcasting student sang Neon Moon by Brooks and Dunn, a song he carefully chose.

“It’s like, one of the best karaoke songs of all time,” said Wynberg. “It’s iconic. I mean, the words, the writing, the notes, it’s an iconic song.”

Xander Wynberg, a white man in a CKDJ hoodie and black ball cap stands on stage with a microphone and sings. He is gesturing and has his eyes closed.
Xander Wynberg was the first student to sing, presenting a cover of a Brooks and Dunn song. Photo credit: Claire Donnan

Some students were using the event to perform songs they knew and loved, like animation student Leyla Cornell who sang Northern Attitude by Noah Kahan.

“I had practised that song previously and I love that song,” said Cornell. “To me, I have my own meaning to it but it suits my voice and I love Noah Kahan songs, they’re really good.”

They planned to bring their friends up later to sing Dancing Queen by ABBA, with the goal of “bringing the vibes back up.”

Alain Cyr-Russo, senior manager of student life with the Students’ Association was excited for the more traditional karaoke event, as previous karaoke events at the Observatory featured a full live band.

“We’ve done in October a rock star karaoke, where we bring in a full band and you sing along with the band,” said Cyr-Russo. “Just having the machine I think people are gonna be a little more comfortable. Sometimes when you have a full band behind you it can be a little bit overwhelming.”

Murray was excited to sing and watch karaoke, as it would be a fun time no matter what happened.

“You don’t have to take yourself too seriously,” said Murray. “Everyone’s here for the same reason and there’s no bias or expectation. You can just have a good time.”

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