I'll say it now - I'm a karaoke fiend. My soul leaps when it's time for the work Christmas do and can all pour our hearts out into the microphone, aided by singalong support, the spirit of Dolly Parton (yes, I know she's very much alive but she's not in Balham), vats of alcohol and the obligatory air guitar.
I love the camaraderie of it all, but also I just kind of like to sing. It's frowned on if you do it in the street, it can feel self-conscious if you do it in film-approved areas like the shower. It's great when friends like a bit of a sing too, but it's not as common as it could be and certainly not up there in popular shared pastimes like a boxset marathon or two pints and a packet of crisps.
There's singing along to music on your playlist, of course, but all too often (okay, always) the actual singers get in the way with their actual talent and their good voices and stuff, partly carrying your own voice (thanks) but also, if we're honest, kind of cramping your style.
Karaoke can't be every day, unless you're living the vocal version of Fight Club and grazing from one singeasy dive to the next like the Marla of song. I've thought about joining women's choirs and they sound brilliant, but they're also regular and require some kind of commitment.
If any of this sounds familiar, you might be as thrilled as I was to learn about solo karaoke. It's a thing. A huge thing. A massive thing I'd never heard of until I tried to find out if it existed. On YouTube there are thousands of karaoke tunes you can sing to, with words for the bits you don't remember and the insufferably talented singers' voices stripped out so you can hear yourself warble and growl properly, like.
They're of varying quality - they won't all light up the words in order, or have a bouncing ball, and some don't even have the words at all which is a bit of a swizz. They're not the original version of the track you love; they're "in the style of".
But once you've found a channel you can trust, it's amazing what's on there. Find a song you like and just go for it. Maybe the sound quality won't be 100% amazing, and maybe it's not like being on the X Factor, and it's also not like being in a studio with working microphones and a sound engineer muttering "that's a bit toppy, mate". But that's okay. Neither is karaoke.
Everyone's got their own taste - me, I'm just happy I can give my very all to the songs of Garbage, Nick Cave and Amy Winehouse thanks to a bit of YouTube exploration. TheKARAOKEChannel usually has what I need, but there are people out there making karaoke versions of all kinds of songs, because they love them as much as you do. If my jam is there, yours will be too. Grab a hairbrush. Let's go sing in the privacy of our bedrooms.
And later down the line, maybe we can think about making singing with our mates the new quest into boxset Mordor or night down the pub.