Lose your shit with Jenny Junior Karaoke at UFO Factory, almost every Sunday

It's called "Jennyoke," (pronounced "Jenny oakie"). It goes down almost every Sunday evening at UFO Factory in Corktown (check first to make sure there's not a special event). And the only reason to not attend is if you hate fun. This is karaoke with several levels of assist. There are elaborate costumes on hand (Superman! Gorilla suit with alien face!) for you to wear during your song, and you can be paired with a built-in duet partner (typically a local rock star, like Dale Wilson from the friggin Detroit Cobras!) while you sing. Whether you do that or not, Jen is there to urge you on. The large TV screen with lyrics is the size of the side of your house, so no matter how drunk you are (drive responsibly!) you'll not miss those lyrics to "L.A. Woman" (even though for half that song, you just have to shout "L.A. woman, whoa, L.A. woman, L.A. woman, yeah").

Local music teacher, musician, and co-owner of the soon-to-open Third Wave Music Store, Jen David aka Jenny Junior leads you through this torrent of song-covering awesomeness. She is the super hype-man of your happiest nightmares.

Metro Times: What's your own music background?

Jen David: I come from a musical family. We were the loud weirdos on the block growing up. We mostly dealt with pianos, but anybody in my family could play any instrument you put in front of them. Singing has always been the most cathartic for me, of all the ways to perform. Started my first band when I was 19 with my good friend Steve Illymack, and now I do a solo project that's more experimental called Jenny Junior.

MT: What makes for a great karaoke experience in your opinion, just in general?

David: You just gotta go up there and do you. If you aren't a great singer, it's OK. Just get into it and the crowd will too.

MT: Before you started this event, did you have a singular amazing karaoke experience, yourself?

David: One time at New Dodge I closed out the night with [Eminem's song] "Stan" and it was the right mood in the room and everything, and people were freaking out. Some rappers were in town and Instagrammed the shit out of it. I felt proud.

MT: How did this idea for an assisted karaoke start? This is really similar to when you go skydiving and you're strapped in with some dude behind you making sure you don't die, isn't it?

David: I didn't plan it; I just am a ham, and can't help it. And, no — if you are feeling good about it, I don't do anything except dance because I'm having fun! It's more like you're Kid Rock and I'm Joe C.

MT: What are your own three favorite karaoke jams, and why?

David: 1) "You Don't Own Me," by Leslie Gore, for when I want to really sing and people pump their fists and dance like we're in First Wives Club. Feminist power ballad.

2) "Together Again," by Janet Jackson. Touching song about death that you can't help but dance to. Has great vocal breaks. Plus it's one of those awesome songs people kinda forgot about, but then it comes on and you're like, 'Oh my god, I love this song!'

3) "Forgot About Dre," by Dr. Dre, because I've had Slim's verse memorized since I was 12. And I get to grab my balls. Plus I get to find a "Dre" out in the audience, and usually they are awesome! Chickachicka.

MT: How popular has the event been?

David: Most nights we'll pack the place out with singers, as busy as any good rock 'n' roll show I've played, maybe more so. We've had one slow night, but it was still really fun because I got to hear one of my favorite singers, Aisha, perform a ton of songs she normally wouldn't do.

MT: What is the best thing about doing this all the time?

David: Getting to see all these badasses perform. People I see around town but I had no idea. New people that blow me away. It's a hard world out there, so it's just nice to help people have a good time. Plus, I get to sing a bunch, and nobody complains!

MT: And the worst?

David: When a karaoke guest gets rude with the host. I know karaoke is partially about getting drunk, but respect me and the venue: 1.) Don't freak out if I don't have your song; you can pay me to download it if you want it that bad. I do take tips. 2.) Don't cover the entire mic with your hand, and blame me if it sounds distorted. 3.) Don't ever grab the mic out of my hands. 4.) Chill, or you will be taken out of rotation.

Karaoke occurs every Sunday, unless canceled for a special event; it's best to check on UFO's Facebook page first to confirm. It starts at 8 p.m.; 2110 Trumbull, Detroit facebook.com/ufofactorydetroit; entrance is free.

Mike McGonigal

Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...
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