What Is Karaoke?

We thought karaoke was just a phase everyone was going through, but it's lasted a lot longer than we thought. Hear why karaoke is here to stay.

Karaoke originated in Japan over twenty years ago as not only a form of entertainment, but a form of therapy as well. Karaoke consists of taking the vocals from a song and playing the song with the words displayed on a television screen, which is then sung by a member of the audience with a microphone. The music and words are stored on special compact discs known as CD+G's and many include graphics and pictures along with the words. Karaoke had become quite popular in bars across Japan and in fact, there are specialized Karaoke Bars where Karaoke is the main focus. In Japanese culture, it is considered one of the few ways that an individual can stand out on display with the focus on himself and show his own voice without being looked down upon as crass or arrogant. In this way, Karaoke was good therapy for Japanese people who felt bound by their society from self-expression. Though it is an outlet for individualism in Japan, it is almost always attended by groups of people and you will usually find large groups of friends and family attending together.

Karaoke made it to the United States and has since been taking it by storm. You can find Karaoke in bars all across the country and home Karaoke systems are even available for purchase to enjoy the fun of Karaoke in your own home. Most bars even have a regular Karaoke night due to it's extreme popularity. Karaoke D/J's often have large collections of songs to choose from and it is great fun to watch someone sing and receive the applause whether they were good at it or not.

A few years ago it seemed that Karaoke was on its way out, a passing trend, but to the contrary, it has in fact grown more popular and widespread and now it seems as though Karaoke is here to stay.

How can the popularity of Karaoke be explained? Perhaps you remember, as a child, standing in front of the mirror with your mother's hairbrush, turned upside down and used as a microphone, while you sang at the top of your lungs and pretended to be a rock star. You didn't want to get up and sing in front of your whole school, you'd be ridiculed if you weren't good at it and it would follow you through the rest of your school career! So, this rock-star desire remains latent, until suddenly, you're in a room full of people, they're all singing badly and you can do it so much better than they can! (So you think!) Not only that, there are alcoholic beverages on hand to loosen up your inhibitions and then, suddenly, you go for it! You're singing a song! People are clapping! You're hooked! Finally, your dreams are realized and maybe you're not famous, but for a minute you felt like it.

So it seems as though Karaoke really is therapeutic, if in a different way than in the Japanese society sense of the outlet. Perhaps we all need an outlet for expression and a chance to fulfill the dreams of our youth. And even if we don't, it's still a good time on a Saturday night.

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