It is fun, cheap live entertainment and builds a great shared community experience mostly through popular music.
This type of interactive entertainment is commonly held in bars & clubs where patrons take to the floor with a microphone and sing along to an instrumental version of a popular song.
Why is karaoke so popular? Karaoke is an habitual & liberating culture which either brings a smile to your face or fills you with dread at the mere thought of standing on a stage trying to look as relaxed as you can, whilst revealing your voice be it good or bad, to a complete crowd of people most of whom you have never met in your life before.
The phenomenon of karaoke was created in 1971 by a local bar owner Inou Daisuke who encouraged his patrons to sing to a music soundtrack.
Why is karaoke so popular? Before long the concept grew and microphones and taping equipment were introduced for karaoke singers to use when they lip synced to the music.
Unfortunately the creator of karaoke failed to patent the idea before he invested in new clubs and had started hiring out his bars & machines for karaoke nights and parties.
This oversight was his downfall as other people jumped on the bandwagon ultimately putting Inou Daisuke and his family out of business.
Karaoke Package Deals!
Why is karaoke so popular? In Japan & Asia today you can hire a private room containing full karaoke systems, colorful lighting that pulsates to the music and where your every request for a perfect karaoke experience is taken into account.
Alternatively you can make a reservation in a bar/musical center where you can provide the following information to start your karaoke experience.
The center will personalize your party taking into account the karaoke songs you have requested.
If you are an individual requiring a karaoke room, you simply pay for the room and choose your songs which you then sing with a microphone. After taping your performance you settle your bill at reception.
Who would have thought that the karaoke experience would eventually come as a package deal in Japan!
Karaoke in the USA & UK
Mainly associated with crowds of people in late nite bars where revellers go all-out with their alcohol fueled vocals. Regardless of whether you are a vigorous screamer, a screecher, a dressed up diva or simply tone deaf, you can still party on enjoying the music and the attention from the crowd.
Remember the 2 seater photo booths where at the end of the night at least half a dozen of you would try to squeeze in for that epic snapshot, only to find when it was eventually slowly delivered through the machines letterbox that it was an image of the back of someone's head, a couple of feet flailing about and several arms that belonged to God knows who. Those were the days!
Now the trend is in "coin" karaoke booths where you can sit in and sing your little heart out. Once again these booths can only accommodate 2 people, so if you are having any thoughts of turning it into a choir session Forget It!
Take a friend along with you and for a nominal amount you can use the remote control, microphone & display screen to mimic your favorite artist.
Karaoke in many Asian countries is looked upon as a team building exercise as when you clock off at work, you are expected to spend sometime with your co-workers, therefore karaoke is the most popular choice at these times.
In the USA & UK when you clock of work, the last thing you want to do is head to the nearest karaoke bar for a session of team building exercises. All most people want to do is grab a Starbucks and get the hell home! Karaoke is simply not high on your list of things to do when you finish at the office.
Why is Karaoke So Popular? Cheap Nite Out?
Why is karaoke so popular? Going out with a few friends for a karaoke nite in the USA does not necessarily come cheap. By the time you factor in the cover charge to gain entry, then tot up the cost of your drinks for the evening, it can soon turn into an expensive night on the town.
Whereas, in many Asian countries for around $10 an hour you can go out and enjoy as much food and alcohol that you can consume, enjoying the whole karaoke experience in the comfort of your own private room.
I am sure that if this was the case in the USA & UK, more people would go out and enjoy karaoke nights on a regular basis. Eventually it may become a new team building session for the masses after work. Who Knows?
Somehow there is something to be said for the options available for a karaoke experience in Japan.
Sound proof karaoke booths where you can spend time with friends for a few hours in a comfortable and private setting, no doubt encourages more people to sing.
On the other side of the pond when we think of karaoke, two thoughts spring immediately to mind. Crowds of people & clubs/bars. For many this can be an instant "No" "No" and a total discouragement from ever trying karaoke to discover the fun and enjoyment it can create.
For the most part everyone wants to sing a song that they know and are familiar with at karaoke.
In many karaoke bars in the USA & UK you will find that the selection of songs to choose form is very limited. If you are lucky you may possibly have anywhere between a couple of hundred up to a thousand titles to choose from.
Again over in Asia you would possibly have around 30.000 songs, allowing that two thirds of them are not in English, you are still left with 10.000 song titles to select from.
Overall, it appears that in most Asian countries karaoke is part & parcel of their culture and is ingrained in families from a very young age and throughout the older generations also. This trend is ongoing and its' appeal has never waned.
Although in most cities in the USA and UK you can find a karaoke bar, the popularity factor is far from being on par with the karaoke culture in Asia.
Why is karaoke so popular? The karaoke phenomenon is not going away anytime soon. With all the new karaoke technology being invented in Japan you can rest assured that karaoke is a phenomenon that will be with us for a long time to come.
For the most part I think we owe a great deal to Inou Daisuke for his inspirational idea of karaoke which has given a wealth of entertainment to millions of people throughout the world.
It is so disheartening to think that he and his family never received the recognition & financial rewards which he was so deserving of.
All we can say to him on behalf of every karaoke lover out there is:
"Doumo Arigato" (Thank you)
Up next - Seriously! Does karaoke improve singing?