The idea for “Quarantine Karaoke” wasn’t much of an idea at all — it was more of a spontaneous way for Joseph Meyers to turn his mood around at a time when feeling overwhelmed, uncertain, and anxious comes easily.
Last Tuesday, the 31-year-old Maine resident went into his basement and fired up a background track (“Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd) and turned on his phone’s camera to record himself singing the song. He later posted it on Facebook to give his friends, who, like much of the nation and the world are stuck at home to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, a much-needed laugh.
It worked. And then, it hit him: Maybe more people could benefit from this type of in-home entertainment.
“What if there was a place where everybody could go and sing their favorite songs, create and share content, and have one central place where other people could then cheer them on and lift their spirits up?" Meyers said in a telephone interview.
The following day, Meyers, a father of two, created the “Quarantine Karaoke” Facebook group, a virtual concert space for would-be singers and people wanting to share their talents from the forced comforts of the indoors. Within a week, the page’s popularity has exploded exponentially. More than 200,000 people have joined, and hundreds of videos have been pouring in from all over the world seemingly by the minute.
“It’s just spread like wildfire,” said Meyers, director of business development at SBK Consulting.
Some do it on the couch. Others from their car. Or, like Meyers, a basement studio space. In some cases, those joining in who don’t dare flex their vocal chords publicly are merely lip-syncing a tune instead.
They sing into hairbrushes and remote controls, Meyers said. There’s dancing. There are costumes. There are duets. People are even posting live performances that are streaming on the page at all hours of the day. A woman doing a rendition of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in sign language Tuesday morning was posted on the page by a group member, earning a deluge of likes and hearts.
“It’s incredibly entertaining,” said Meyers, who has been boosting one person’s post as the “featured” performer each day. “There’s some amazing talent. It’s basically become like ‘American Idol’ from your living room."
It’s also been full of heartfelt moments — from an elderly man singing to his wife to a “little girl with cancer singing ‘Frozen’ songs and bringing tears to your eyes," Meyers said.
“It’s all across the board,” he said. “It’s unreal.”
Of course, with such an influx of global interest, Meyers and a team of appointed page administrators have put a few simple rules in place, so that comments, posts, and other content doesn’t get too out of hand and steer Quarantine Karaoke’s purpose off track.
“You are encouraged to post videos of yourself singing your favorite songs to distract from the world pandemic and pull each other closer together,” the official rules state. “Positive vibes only and FUN is a requirement!”
Meyers added, “there is a zero tolerance, one-strike policy” for criticizing somebody’s singing.
“Everybody is stuck at home," he said. “They feel vulnerable anyways, posting a song of them singing, so they don’t need anyone tearing them down or making fun of them.”
The page, indeed, has become a space for people to go to pass the time while sitting at home, all the while keeping them connected and entertained. Many have found inspiration from it as well, just as Meyers had intended.
“Love this! Thanks for making my day!,” one person wrote in response to a girl and her father dancing and singing while in the car together this week.
Beneath a clip of a woman in a Boston hoodie singing an a cappella version of Blondie’s “Call Me," someone wrote: “Gurrrrl I’m calling you!”
Meyers said these messages of support have spilled over into his Facebook inbox by the thousands, as the page has taken off.
“There’s so much gratitude for creating a place where everyone can go and feel together,” he said. “We are battling this nasty virus with positivity and hope and love and fighting back against it.”