Study Guide

Lost in Translation Karaoke Night

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Karaoke Night

Karaoke doesn’t get much lost in translation; as long as you can read the words on the screen, you’ll be OK, even if the words are in English and you speak Japanese. Or vice versa.

The songs that Bob and Charlotte choose to sing for karaoke are kind of a big deal. They each choose songs that they feel a connection to. In turn, their song choices help them connect with each other. Who knew stumbling your way through a pop song could be so revealing, right? Check it out:

Charlotte sings "Brass in Pocket" by The Pretenders. Here's a sample of the lyrics:

Cause I'm gonna make you see
There's nobody else here
No one like me
I'm special (so special)
I gotta have some of your attention
Give it to me

Charlotte's convinced that she's special; that's also why she feels stuck. As she tells Bob later in the movie, she's not sure what she's supposed to do with her life, but she feels like she's supposed to do something. There's something bigger in store for her than just being John's wife and hanging around with his show-biz friends.

Vamping it up in her pink wig, Charlotte also shows her sexy side—or at least that she's capable of doing more than brooding and cracking wise. Unsurprisingly, Bob's enraptured. "I'm special," she sings. "So special," Bob echoes, doing his best impression of a backup singer, completely unable to take his eyes off of her.

That fascination goes both ways. First, Bob hams his way through Elvis Costello's "(What So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding." Everybody hoots and hollers and claps along. Then, after Charlotte performs, Bob's up again, and he sings "More Than This" by Roxy Music. Let's take a look at a chunk of those lyrics:

More than this
There is nothing
More than this
Tell me one thing
More than this

It's a big change in tone from Elvis Costello. Bob stays seated, and sings earnestly. As Charlotte watches Bob sing in the background, her smile slowly fades into something more serious. When Bob sings the chorus to her about how there's nothing more than this, she gets so embarrassed she has to break this gaze.

The scene immediately cuts to Charlotte smoking a cigarette in the hallway outside their karaoke lounge. Bob joins her and silently bums a drag. He hands her cigarette back to her, and she rests her head on his shoulder. After all their symbolic singing, they trade intimate gestures in silence.

Awww. (You know, minus the whole smoking part. That's just nasty.)

Karaoke night is a turning point in Bob and Charlotte's relationship. Each of them sees additional layers to the other that are represented through music. Bob sees Charlotte's flirtatious side. Charlotte sees that there's some sincerity beneath all of Bob's smugness.

Most importantly, they come to an understanding about each other. They both want to feel special, and they both recognize that there's nothing more than this week they're sharing in Tokyo.

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