Karaoke has long been a world phenomenon and has conquered virtually all the countries of the world, but perhaps nowhere it has become as widespread as at home – in Asia. In karaoke bars people make deals, make dates, relieve stress, and in some places, are willing to grab knives if you decide to sing Sinatra. All this and other facts about karaoke in Asia are in our article.
Karaoke originated in Japan in 1971. Daisuke Inoue, who worked as a musician in the so-called “singing cafés” where people came to drink and sing to the accompaniment of live music, came up with the idea of making a machine in which visitors could independently throw money and sing while the musicians rested.
Time magazine named Inoue as one of the most influential Asians of the 20th century. The inventor of karaoke in 2004 was even awarded the Ignobel (“Shnobel”) Peace Prize «for the creation of a fundamentally new way to learn to tolerate each other». This parody award is usually awarded for unusual but useful inventions.
Until the late 1980s, all major karaoke inventions appeared in Japan for the first time. The first home karaoke TV console, the first karaoke taxi, the first karaoke box is a prototype of modern VIP rooms in karaoke clubs. From Japan, karaoke spread first across Asia and then across the rest of the world. Now Japan is a recognized karaoke-culture center with over 135,000 karaoke clubs, some of which reach 7-8 floors in height.
The Japanese are probably the only ones who go to karaoke alone. For many, this is a good way to relieve stress after work, but often a single trip to a club is a rehearsal before an upcoming corporate event. The Japanese will sing the same song long and hard, perfecting the performance so as not to embarrass themselves in front of colleagues and the boss.
Japanese bosses also spend a lot of time on vocal training to impress customers and business partners. They even hire professional singers to tighten up the performance. And it works! Only sound engineers know how many deals are made nightly in Japanese karaoke clubs.
According to some estimates, about 16.5 million people sing karaoke in Japan every day. The popularity of karaoke is so great that often after meeting the Japanese people politely wonder what their favorite song is. But if you’re a girl, don’t immediately accept the invitation of a new friend to continue acquaintance at the karaoke bar. For the Japanese, a two-way karaoke in a closed room sometimes means more than singing together.
In the Philippines, where karaoke culture is not much more popular than in Japan, Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way” is banned as inciting hatred against the people performing it. Seriously, singing this classic thing in a Filipino bar often ends in stabbing and death. Perhaps it’s because it’s been sung too often.
China holds the record for the longest karaoke session. It lasted 456 hours, two minutes and five seconds. That’s whole 19 days! During this time, 6,281 songs were performed by the guests of the restaurant.
Singing in Chinese karaoke is not a test for the weaklings. The average session lasts about four hours, and all of this happens under heavy alcohol. Short sessions exist only in karaoke booths in shopping malls.
KTV’s mini karaoke kiosks have literally taken over Chinese shopping malls. There are over 20,000 of them all over the country. They are usually used to take a break from shopping and sing a song or two, but some of the kiosks allow you to record an entire album and send it to your mail or share it with your friends in a messenger.