Big Guy Car Guy / Writing

(Tell Me Why) It’s Easier With Friends

Kia San Diego Live Band Karaoke

Time zone confusion, a lack of sleep, vocal strain from too much mingling the day and night before, and a burning of the proverbial candle at both ends left my body a shiver, my head in a fog, and my voice this side of tatters.

I didn’t always know where I was but there was never any doubt as to who I was with.

By the celebratory finale, I was kind of a physical wreck and had resigned myself to not reprising Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” during live band karaoke. I felt bad that my peers would be deprived the joy of hearing me emote that 90’s classic, but sometimes you have to look out for yourself amidst the communal revelry.

Instead of being the star, I went into the par-tay set on playing the role of chief cheerleader, head hi-fiver, and committed concert-going voyeur (and sure, I’ll hold your phone to record your performance while fending off the tickles and elbow hits from others that will make your karaoke video shaky AF) during the closing night of #TheNewKia annual brand immersion event going on the Hard Rock Hotel at the mouth of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. That was my plan.

As Wednesday night inched closer to Thursday morn, as the band increased the frequency of their ‘time’s running out to sing’ last call warnings, I was pulled up onto the stage with my fellow Kia brand ambassadors for a group performance. Fine enough. I’ll stand in the back with my ginger ale on the rocks. I’ll smile and sway from side to side as a handful of lovely ladies do the heavy lifting. That wasn’t their plan.

I was pushed to the front straightaway, up to the mic stand teetering on the tasseled edge of an Persian rug bunched up after hours of jumping, shucking and jiving upon it by wannabe rockers and eager pretend pop stars.

I wound up taking the lead on The Backstreet Boys “Tell Me Why”, a song I remembered only for the fun my wife and I used to have singing the hook in an obnoxiously nasally way back when it was in heavy rotation on radio and clattered constantly from supermarket sound systems. I didn’t know any of the other words, its rhyming pattern, or the rhythm of the verses. Only, “TELL ME WHYYYYYEEE!”

This outta be fun.

And it was. It was all of the fun. And more.

Playing the role of miscast frontman was made fun by, and so much easier with, friends because those beautiful people literally had my back when I suddenly decided to take a sip midstream (I was still in a fog remember), when I stared hopelessly like a lost child in a shopping mall at the 46″ flat screen TV as the lyrics scrolled along, when I couldn’t figure out where we were in the song (“ain’t nothing but a…” ah crap, that’s coming up next), and when I turned around repeatedly to sincerely serenade some of the most wonderful, talented, and kindhearted people I have ever known.

I can’t tell you everything I did, sang or heard because I was still a bit of a mess, but I can tell you whyyyyyeee I’m happier than I’ve ever been in life.

It has nothing to do with The Backstreet Boys, but damn near everything to do with my second family, the Kia Family who have welcomed me in like no other collective of people have before. They cover for me when I’m down and actually seem to enjoy it when I turn to them, literally and figuratively, to sing my own song in my own way.

During this event someone we don’t know tweeted glowingly about the innovative nature of Kia’s influencer program, the very program with which me and that crew up there are tightly aligned. The guy behind that tweet will never know how spot on he was.

The backup singing support I received on the live band karaoke stage in San Diego is akin to the support given me by the greater Kia team — the support to tell my own stories in my own way. I have not only the creative freedom to tell stories that equate plug-in hybrid cars to growing up into adulthood, a car brand to the respect NOT given to kids, and finding the motivation to rise above the fray after being laughed at in a crowd, but also the encouragement to keep pushing my narratives forward and a dear family eager to spread those stories and photographs into nooks and crannies of the internet I alone could not reach.

And I’m happy, ’cause I want it that way.

**All photos by Cielo Roth**

This was a hosted trip with Kia. All travel and costs of my attendance were covered, all opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased as always.

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17 Comments

  1. You are the backstreet MAN!

  2. You did great and it was so great to meet you! That party was a blast!

  3. This was definitely a Kia family moment and I’m so glad we all did this together

  4. I’m glad you got pushed to the front. You play the part of star far better than you give yourself credit for.

  5. Tell me why this made me tear up a little bit? Ugh. I’m mad at myself for missing this but grateful that y’all rocked it and that you had such an awesome time. Keep shining, Jeff.

  6. You look like you were having so much fun!

  7. This is such an amazing post Jeff! I’m glad you got a moment to shine. You deserve every single moment!

  8. My image of you is forever changed. Just not altogether sure which way yet, but don’t get your hopes up.

  9. Backstreet’s back, alright!

  10. Thank you so much, Heather! It was a joy to meet you too!

  11. Doing it together was the only way it could have been done, Clarissa!

  12. YOU MISSED MY PERFORMANCE!!! HOW DARE YOU!! 😉 Meeting you the day before was amazing, Brittany. Welcome to the KiaFamily!

  13. It was really special to be up there with those people.

  14. Awww, thank you Brianca!!

  15. Hahahahaha!!

  16. Your performance was simultaneously hilarious, liberating, and inspiring!

    I have another great memory of the song, singing along with a group of grown men packed much too tightly into a less-than-roomy car (and certainly not a Kia). Your rendition almost tops that!

    BTW, the song is called “I Want It That Way.” #BSBPurist

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