The musical phenomenon of karaoke ( カラオケ) is a cultural event that has spread throughout Japan, the whole of Asia, the U.S., and the world. Karaoke is enshrined into the social life of people of all ages. Karaoke is a word whose word combination is “kara” which means empty-handed and the “okee” is more a sound that you hear in the Japanese word for “orchestra.”
Even before social media, many people would gain fame from being recognized as a karaoke star. Not because of their singing voice but for how much entertainment they put into their imitation performances.
Many Americans believe that karaoke began in this country, but history records that this musical event was created by Inou Daisuke, a local musician. Inoue created the song bar idea in 1971 in Osaka, Japan when in his bar, he asked his patrons to sing along with a musical soundtrack.
People fell in love with this concept and it grew successfully in Kobe. Inou incorporated microphones and musical taping equipment for patrons to use as their lipped sync along with the music.
Patrons brought their friends to karaoke nights and shortly after some sake and pretty women singing with the lyrics, karaoke was national shit. Inoue Daisuke hired out his bars and machines as he also opened new clubs. Unfortunately, Inou did not patent his idea and others copied his idea putting Ionoue and his family out of business.
The president of a musical corporation named Roberto Del Rosario, a Filipino executive, created the Karaoke Sing Along System in 1975 which allowed him to patent the karaoke invention abstract and the rest is history.
Neon-lit karaoke bars, centers, and private settings are still very popular in Japan and Asia. Karaoke is called KTV in many Asian countries like China, the Philippines, and Cambodia. You can see lots of signs on the street noting the location of KTV bars.
Karaoke is a well-ingrained cultural hegemony that Asian children begin performing at an early age. Karaoke styles can be found in mountain villages and in big cities and Asian citizens are very serious about their karaoke performances.
Unlike America, where karaoke is associated with late-night bar singing in a crowd of people, Japan, and Asia communities have created private rooms with karaoke systems set-up in a dazzling array of colorful lights, that can be musically pulsating.
In the entertainment district of Asian districts, traditional American style karaoke bar still exists where tourists and local citizens perform in front of a crowd.
However, modern karaoke music is part of a bar/musical center where you are often asked to make a reservation to participate in. Karaoke centers hire a receptionist who takes your registration information, your I.D., is required, and additional information is gleaned, such as:
- how many people in your party
- how long do you wish to use the center for because you are charged by the hour
- do you require food and drink
- what type of karaoke tunes do you require and what type of karaoke equipment is needed.
The karaoke center will then personalize your party with the songs and instrumentation tunes that you have requested. If a single individual requires a karaoke room, they pay for a room where they choose their songs, sing them with a microphone, tape their performance and then settle at the reception desk.
The Japanese enjoy most of their karaoke experience in package form. For several yens, Japanese citizens can enjoy weeks of karaoke fun.
Japanese and Asian karaoke centers and rooms open early in the morning and are open during the work week until the wee hours of the next day (3:00 am). Longer operating hours are provided for the weekend beginning Friday evening. What songs is everyone singing?
Today, modern Asian citizens have songs numbering into the thousand and perhaps 1/3 of the songs are in English. Don’t forget that there are popular Asian song artists throughout Cambodia, the Philippines, North/South Korea, Laos, China, and other countries.
How To Enjoy Karaoke
Karaoke playing machines are found everywhere in Southeast Asia, including in transportation vehicles like trains and buses.
Yes, you heard right. Karaoke videos, Karaoke movies and tapes are played on buses and trains, all of which are very acceptable by other passengers. If you don’t want to hear karaoke on your transportation trips, then take short trips rather than long trips because you will be in the minority listening to others perform karaoke songs.
Karaoke parties are very popular in Japan where individuals of all voice styles are having the best fun anywhere. You have your screechers, your dressed up divas, your vigorous screamers, and those that are just plain tone deaf but who enjoy the mic, the crowd, and the attention.
Also, don’t be surprised at the varied karaoke TV shows being aired live and on YouTube. I won’t go into the sorted details, but let’s just say that karaoke on Asian TV involves additional action taken by the contestants. However, we can mention Crash Karaoke through MTV International, where the production company shows up anywhere in Japan and people are offered cash to sing.
Playing karaoke at home in Japan with family members is a good time had by all. All a family needs is a microphone, a television and a karaoke game console containing lots of musical video games with popular American, European, and Asian musical artists. Karaoke musical video games is a leading industry business whose bottom line is in the millions.
Another family fun karaoke time is in the family car. With the large interest in karaoke by app companies, entertainment system companies, and now automobile manufacturers, this musical connective system is keeping families close and entertained on long road trips.
Japan car manufacturers have created a karaoke system that employs a camera, speaker, and monitor. A Bluetooth microphone is a part of the rear-seat connectivity where children can have fun with their on the road karaoke box. Parents can download an Karaoke App through their smartphone where the music is played over the car’s speakers. On the car’s camera are images of the kids performing to a video on the car’s navigation system LCD screen.
From the K-boxes in Hong Kong’s, the Manila videoke street stalls, the Noraebang centers, and the singing rooms in Seoul are varied karaoke venues which are drawing together students and businessmen in large numbers even today. The karaoke phenom isn’t going away anytime soon. Not when there are “coin” karaoke booths to sit in and sing to your heart’s desire.
Yes, for 50 cents you can use a remote control device, a microphone, and a display screen to mimic your favorite band or artist’s rendition of a song of your choice. Students enjoy the affordability of karaoke coin booths and the opportunity to practice singing with a friend because the coin booths can only accommodate two individuals at a time.
Japan and countries throughout Asia are embracing the religious aspect of Buddhism and karaoke. One of the holiest places on the planet is Tibet.
With its amazingly decorated temples with monks in their prayer stance, cymbals clashing, and the air filled with incense, chimes and chanting, you can walk down the street from nearby monasteries and walk into a karaoke bar or center. The world is such that the chants by the monks and the musical hip-hop chants from karaoke are being enjoyed side by side throughout China and Asia.