I was an eleven-year-old kid attending Catholic school in Kentucky and my parents had just gotten cable TV. It was 1982. I had gotten up inexplicably early one morning. Maybe 4:00 or 5:00 AM. I turned on the television and had my brain cracked open by an unbelievably amazing concert film called Urgh! A Music War. I was bombarded with music and bizarre performances the likes of which was unimaginable to me in my sheltered youth. I wasn’t prepared for it.
Some of it absolutely terrified me, in particular, The Dead Kennedys, The Cramps, and Skafish (who were downright blasphemous to me—I didn’t understand camp at that time). But the one act that stood out to me the most—the most bizarre thing I had ever seen up to that point—was Klaus Nomi.
I didn’t LOVE Klaus Nomi at first, nor really any of the acts in Urgh!, save for the big names I already knew like The Police, Go Go’s, and Joan Jett. I was intrigued and confused by these performances, but in time I came to love them. I love every band and every song in Urgh! It’s a perfect concert film.
Klaus Nomi ended up becoming a bit of an obsession over time. By the time I got to college, I was already fully immersed in punk rock. I had a copy of Urgh! on VHS that I watched over and over with friends in the dorm room. And Klaus was always the highlight. The general comment whenever anyone first saw Klaus’ performance in Urgh! was “what the hell is this supposed to be?” Exactly. That’s the greatness of Klaus Nomi. Klaus’ backing band, looking like super-square rejects from an E.L.O. tribute was also a constant source of hilarious commentary in the dorm. The clash between the highly stylized other-worldliness of Klaus and his backup dancers and the backing band which just looked like “some dudes” actually seemed like calculated genius. The song Klaus and his band performs in Urgh!, “Total Eclipse,” is by now one of my favorite songs of all time.
Moving forward in time, one of the weird side-jobs I ended up doing years later was hosting karaoke. I was a karaoke DJ (or KJ, as we like to be called) for eight years. It was a fun gig and I was really good at it. I made a point to scour the planet for karaoke tracks that no one else had. It wasn’t easy to find punk rock on karaoke, but if it existed, I had it. I was even part of a cabal of “cool” karaoke hosts nationwide (there were like 6 of us) that hired studio bands to record the tracks we wanted for karaoke use, but that were unavailable on the market. As a result, the members of this cabal had dozens of tracks that no other KJs in the world had access to.
The one track I always wanted though, that we never produced ourselves or were able to find ANYWHERE was “Total Eclipse.”
Fast forward to a couple of days ago when I began making plans for an eclipse party. I happen to live in one of the few municipal areas in the U.S. that will be able to observe the full total eclipse on August 21. So, I’m thinking “man, wouldn’t it be awesome to have ‘Total Eclipse’ by Klaus Nomi on karaoke?”
So I did a search… something I had done plenty of times to no avail back when I was working in the karaoke business. But this time I hit paydirt. Some kind soul on YouTube has taken the time to create a backing track with on-screen lyrics for “Total Eclipse.”
This is seriously the best thing to ever happen in the world of karaoke.
So, rather than horde all of this fun just for myself, I share this with you, dear Dangerous Minds readers. Practice this as much as you can before the big event on Monday afternoon.
And if you need to brush up on it, or even be blown away by a first viewing of Klaus performing this song, here’s his amazing appearance from Urgh!: