This pandemic is full of surprises, and few of them are pleasant. But I've discovered something over the past few months that is one of this era's rare silver linings. It's stoned Zoom karaoke. Or, if you want to call it by its proper name: quaraoke.
One of the things I miss most from pre-pandemic times is karaoke. Birthday karaoke. Holiday karaoke. Just-for-the-fuck-of-it karaoke. But I can't uncouple the thought of bar karaoke from "superspreader event." So, from my socially distant perch, I've watched special occasion after special occasion slide by without proper karaoke acknowledgment. Depressing.
And then a few months ago, a close friend suggested we do "quaraoke" for her birthday. I was interested. A little hesitant. Mostly I was thinking: How the fuck do you translate the rush of drunkenly scream-singing "Underneath It All" in a bar... to Zoom?
While it's imperfect and laggy, it turns out that forcibly making your friends listen to your rendition of "Dreams" through videoconferencing software is just as sweet from the comfort of everyone's COVID bubbles.
At-home karaoke has also opened up a new avenue: stoned quaraoke.
Pre-pandemic, stoned karaoke was always an option. I could buss down a spliff outside the karaoke bar while I waited my turn, or I could take an edible beforehand. But the choices weren't as ideal as toking on a stubby pre-roll in the comfort of my own room while screeching "Mr. Brightside." At home, I can engage with weed in the way that I like most—a few puffs here and there, just enough to keep me levelly stoned through the night.
Since you're facing another week or two (or twenty-eight) in lockdown, my at-home suggestion this week is to try a little stoned quaraoke with friends. Just because we're in lockdown doesn't mean we can't be (virtually) together. I've jotted down a couple of ways to get you started:
Invite friends. You can do quaraoke with one person or a dozen people, however many you feel comfortable with.
Fire up Zoom. Keep in mind that you'll need a premium Zoom account to have a meeting longer than 40 minutes, but you can have up to 100 people on the call if you really want to go buckwild. Google Hangouts also works and has no time limit.
Do a screen share and put everyone else on mute. This is pretty straightforward: share your screen and pull up the karaoke song you want to do on YouTube. How to Geek has a good guide for screensharing on Zoom. Screensharing karaoke is great because it keeps your video and the song onscreen, which looks nice. There's not as much delay, making it pretty easy to sing together if you wish. Though it might get cumbersome with a lot of people, this is definitely my favorite option for more intimate gatherings.
If you've got a lot of people on your quaraoke call, create a room in Watch2Gether. If you're taking quaraoke very seriously, assemble a song request Google doc beforehand to streamline the process and tweak the site's settings to fit your needs. On Watch2Gether, you can snag a link to a "room" where everyone can virtually gather and watch videos simultaneously. Zoom often delays video and vocals, so it works best if everyone but the singer is muted. Also, the Watch2Gether search engine sucks, so having the YouTube URL to the exact karaoke video you want works the best.
Find all the songs ahead of time. YouTube is a treasure trove of karaoke songs. There are often several different versions of popular songs, and more obscure songs aren't that difficult to find. Just a tip: make sure that the karaoke video isn't a lyric video before pressing play during the night's festivities. It's a weird, COVID-era faux pas!
Go with a hybrid strain. You want to feel chatty and social, but also very much in your body. I like Lazy Bee Gardens' Gelato pre-rolls.
Make sure to alert your housemates. Karaoke is just as much about singing for yourself as it is about singing for someone else. Choose a song or two you think your roomies might like.