Being Neighborly

A few months ago the vacant house next to us became occupied. So far I’ve only seen their feet out of our basement window and heard them singing. Yes, singing. As in karaoke at top volume. It’s so loud in fact, we can hear it from our living room. Which, for perspective, is at the other end of the house from where their house sits adjacent to ours.

That’s some serious karaoke volume.

At first we just thought they were partying. I mean, it was the holidays and so it made sense for people to have festive gatherings with possibly loud music. But then on Christmas Eve, Mr. Darcy and I snuck over to the edge of our lawn and looked. We could see into their living room window through a sheer curtain. There were holiday lights strung around and the glass was steamed up from the body heat inside. It was between songs and it was clear when someone got on the mic that this wasn’t just the radio we’d been hearing but bona-fide karaoke.

Karaoke in another language so that none of the songs are familiar to us. Does that make this a worse torture or easier?

So it’s now nearing the end of January and still, the random karaokeing continues. Like Friday when I worked from home. The male neighbor was at it around 2 in the afternoon, seemingly all by himself. I filmed this short video of it. This is me standing outside our bedroom window facing their living room (where the karaoke magic happens). (Sorry about videotaping it the wrong way.) (He is performing a rare English song, still unrecognizable to me.)

You guys? They are awful singers. Regardless of the fact that most of the time they are singing in a language I don’t know, they are all tone-deaf. They are like the people who audition for American Idol and suck so hard but swear that people have been telling them their entire lives they are good singers. No. YOU ARE NOT A GOOD SINGER. Maybe get a new hobby.

And why so much karaoke? Are they professionals? Is there a karaoke circuit I don’t know about where people compete for money? Are they planning on starting their own karaoke nightclub and host parties in their house as some sort of pyramid scheme to fund it? WHAT IS GOING ON AND WHY IS IT HAPPENING NEXT DOOR?

Those who follow me on Twitter (and even on Facebook) have heard me lament about this situation already. Whyyyyyyyy karaoke of all things at top volume? Didn’t we leave our urban apartment for this tranquil suburbia to escape such nonsense? Didn’t we suffer enough at the hands of The Music Man back at our old building?

I have written a letter, one in which I hope is taken in a neighborly way, explaining that we can hear their karaokeing from across the entirety of our house and especially in our bedroom where it is often very hard for us to fall asleep. I really just want them to know that it’s bothersome. Because here I am hoping that them knowing it’s a nuisance would mean they would have the good sense and manners to turn down the volume. I always want to believe people will be good and considerate. I’m probably setting myself up for an epic let down, aren’t I?

People have suggested all sorts of tactics in retaliation but since we own this house and have no plans on moving, I think we might want to try a nice approach first before calling the cops on a noise complaint or something. If the letter doesn’t work, then I’m ready to invite you all over so we can go knock on their door en mass with our karaoke song slips in hand. “Hey! We heard there was a karaoke party happening and we’re ready for our turn.”

Who’s in?

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32 thoughts on “Being Neighborly

  1. Oh, man…that’s not awesome at all. We don’t have a karaoke problem but we do have a non-stop barking dog problem. Non. Stop. We’re writing letters and if that doesn’t help, then we’re writing to the city (along with a couple of our neighbors).

    I’m guessing your neighborhood has some kind of noise ordinance. Regardless of time of day, if it’s disturbing your peace, it shouldn’t be allowed to happen and isn’t allowed to happen.

  2. I’m totally in! I love karaoke (must be an Asian thing, har), but would never torture my poor neighbors with my horrible singing voice (even in the shower, I try to keep my singing to a decent minimum). I love that you shot a video, it’s too funny. Good luck with your letter approach, and I hope that the volume decreases from here on out!

  3. Hey Sizzle, I bet they are related to our Karaoke neighbors, who are Korean, and go at it at all hours of the day and night. They sing Barry Manilow with bad accents, amps up high, windows open (even in winter!), excitedly sharing their “talent” with the whole neighborhood. The woman fashions herself a Korean opera singer and does scales to an annoyingly high pitch. The man will Karaoke the same song dozens of times in a row. One afternoon he sang “wind beneath my wings” about 40 times. They also have a son, “Electric Guitar 2am Special” who also cranks up the amps and opens the windows when he performs. We (including other neighbors) have to get the police to come, because “the Karaokies” tell us we are nuts for not appreciating the “free concerts” we are “so fortunate” to enjoy, and otherwise refuse to turn down the amps. Sadly the police will only come in the night to enforce noise ordinances, so during the morning, day, and evening we are on our own with these inconsiderate neighbors. Good luck to you, I hope yours are more reasonable than ours.

  4. Not awesome. I agree that you should not RETALIATE — they don’t know they’ve done anything wrong yet. I’d start with a note or a conversation and see where it goes. The only thing I’d be concerned about is if there is a language barrier.

    As an aside – I was in Madison, WI once and (drunkenly), my best friend and I stumbled into a korean restaurant where they were having late night karaoke. They were singing in English, but broken / heavily accented English. It was a BIG DEAL – like, they were just passing the mic around the restaurant and then everybdoy would give standing ovations, etc. I was drunk enough that I got up and sang “You Oughta Know,” which I’m pretty sure ended with my kicking over a chair and sitting in somebody’s lap. It was also not awesome.

  5. I have never done karaoke and have sworn to keep up that trend for ever and ever, but I would consider breaking my vow to help you with this project.

  6. A note would piss me off, not as much as opening the doors to cops, but still make me very angry. Try knocking on the door, introducing yourself and explaining it to them in person–much more neighborly and polite than a note (which usually comes across as passive-aggressive).

    • I’m with Kate on this one. I think a direct, in person approach is a way better idea than writing a note. There’s just way too much left up to reader interpretation in a note.

  7. Oh my, that is loud! And so random in the middle of the afternoon…though I know the problem is usually that it is late at night, huh? Ugh. I vote writing them a letter or talking to them in person.

  8. Wow. That is… something. Before leaving the letter, have you tried just going to their door? I mean, if they don’t seem like violent, creepy, drugged-up people, that is. And is there a house on the other side of theirs? Could you go to that neighbor and ask if it’s a problem. I guess I feel like there is safety in numbers. :)

  9. i am SO in. our landlord lives across the driveway from us and they host bible study and that includes bible singing. and usually on friday nights. so if we’re home on friday nights, we get some sweet church songs wafting through our windows. it’s…well interesting to put it mildly.

  10. If the letter hasn’t already been sent, I have to agree with the folks who say try talking to them first. Notes, even written in as neighborly way as possible, are a bit passive aggressive, especially if you’ve never met the person. But if the letter is already sent, then I hope it has the desired effect! Good luck!

  11. I am more of a note person because face-to-face interactions of that nature make me forget what I wanted to say (or how I wanted to say it). But going over to say Hi is a good approach. Maybe take a neighborly gift. Good luck!

  12. OH MAN. I am…not a fan of karaoke. My best friend’s parents were really into karaoke and I used to hate to stay the night at her house because they’d sing ALL NIGHT and it was hard to sleep. AND, when we were up, they’d beg me to sing. Unlike many karaoke-ers, I know that my voice is BAD.

  13. Oh, neighbors. I wish I could live close to the city and all its perks, but live in house surrounded by acres of land so I didn’t have neighbors who I could hear. Everywhere we go, we’ve had to deal with loudness and it just starts to become a form of torture. We always start with a knock on the door, an introduction and “please” and “thank you.” Never works that easily, and comes down to letter writing, wall pounding (when there are shared walls) and anything else we can think of.

    That’s unbearable and I so understand how you’d hope in a single family home you wouldn’t have to deal with this crap! UGH!

  14. This situation is insane. Seriously insane. I have NO idea how I would handle it. I think your letter is an excellent starting point. I hope they’re reasonable people who just don’t realize they’re being so intrusive.

  15. oh my god. It was only funny for a second – then, nasty! I can bring over my Karaoke equipment and we could blast them out so far and wide that they will wave the white flag and never sing again! LOL!

    Seriously, I hope you can resolve it peacefully, and mostly, quickly.

  16. Asians and Karaoke. Yes, it’s a thing. Especially with Koreans.

    If it helps explain why they sound so terrible to Westerners, they use a pentatonic (5-note) scale as opposed to our diatonic (7- note) scale. Indian sitar music really kills me.

    They literally hear music differently. As if we try to explain our 7 color rainbow to those who only have 5 colors in theirs.

    And i am so sorry, I hear your pain. I’d ask in person, too, avoiding too much eye contact.

  17. Oh my word. That is terrible! I think you should talk to them in person as well and maybe even bring the video so they can see/hear it from your point of view (especially if there is a language barrier.) GOOD LUCK!

  18. Pingback: The Karaoke Neighbors: Episode 2 | Sizzle Says

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