Here's the scene...An American family of four, led by Z through an spot-on (yeah, right!) version of one of U2's greatest hits, in a Beijing karaoke club where pretty much everyone else is a Chinese college student.
Ever since my Beida students introduced us to 17-Mile (the name always makes me think I'm in an Eminem movie or something), a karaoke joint just down the road from the university, the four of us have graduated from singing in the shower to grabbing our own private room and belting out English-language favorites from the Beatles to Taylor Swift. If you think this is weird, you should see the bemused and puzzled looks we get from the staff when we walk in and ask to be set up. (The three-and-a-half hour package deal sounds like way too much time to spend in room singing, but trust us, the time just flies by, especially when I insist on working my way through long songs like "Hotel California.")
We all have to say that the videos (many of them presumably "unofficial") accompanying the songs are really weird, and sometimes downright creepy. There's the girl desperately trying to flag a ride during "Eleanor Rigby." The exaggerated moves of ABBA's "Dancing Queen." And Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and company are nowhere to be found in "We Are the World."
The granddaddy of them all, however, is "With Or Without You." I really can't do it justice with words. (The accompanying still shot at least gives a rough idea of the visual.) A young couple on a mountain covered in snow, sledding, frolicking, acting bizarre...It is the epitome of the indescribable, wacky fun that can be had when an American family walks into a Chinese karaoke club and sings the greatest hits of the West.