Why I Hate Karaoke
August 4, 2021 2:00pm CST
Initially the idea of a karaoke party singalong is a sound one. Many drinkers like to sing, but don’t know all the words to many songs, so a screen that scrolls the words and provides a cue on which bits to sing next are a big help. The trouble is that Karaoke swallows an entire night in the pub, or home, ruins the possibility of quiet chatter between friends, and ends up massaging egos. It also kills spontanaity. Performers rarely sing with feeling, but because the opportunity is there or they feel obliged to. Singing along with a tune is as old as music itself. Virtually any song with a catchy chorus invites audiene participation, even Happy Birthday and National Anthems. Music hall hits were often earworms that listeners quickly got to join in with often egged on by the official singers. Follow, The Van, The Old Bull & Bush, etc, were vaudeville favourites. Movie musicals had humable easily repeatable songs and when subtitled, especially for the international market, audiences joined in. Watch Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs and someone will be singing Hi Ho along with the dwarfs. Ballad sheets were sold throughout Europe from the early days of the printing press. People like to sing and join in a popular song. In the US, in 1961 TV’s Mitch Miller had a show called Singalongwith Mitch, featuring him and guests singing with a subtitling machine and bouncing ball effect. The show ran until 1966. The invention of the first dedicated karaoke machine is attributed to various Japanese inventors and engineers between 1967 and 1971. The machines were eventually patented in 1975 by Roberto Del Rosario in the Philippines in 1975. Karaoke in Japan, China and the Philipines was rarely a big public entertainment. Karaoke booths were quiet, discreet and sound proof boxes where a wannabee singer could go, sometimes accompanied by a friend or two, to croon, with an option to capture the singing on tape or disc. The booths were often used for sex and even for prostitution, under the guise of going to sing a song. With easier access to music as downloading became available and equiptment could delete the recorded singing leaving the backing tracks, the karaoke explosion came. American bars and restaurants started running karaoke nights, and some became exclusively karaoke bars. Here the singing was public, and anyone could join in. The rot kicked in quickly as the machines spread like a virus, in bars and even in private homes. 1/. Karaoke kills other live entertainment. If the drinkers entertain themselves to a plug in box (the machines are now easily portable) paying professionals to entertain becomes rare. Karaoke kills jobs and real talent. 2/. Far from just having fun with the machines many singers take the performance seriously, as if auditioning for a talent show. 3/. Those with weaker voices are not championed for giving it a go but often ignored or refused an opportunity to perform again that night. 4/. Some singers get very territorial about favourite songs, (My Way, I Will Always Love You, Angels, and My Heart Will Go On are among the most popular Karaoke songs). Fights can break out when two or more performers separately want to do the same song. 5/. Bad singers may be falsely praised as sounding great. They go on to try to audition for talent shows, often fairing badly. 6/. TV shows like The X Factor are basically just Televised Karaoke, often with a cruel judging panel, and extortionately priced premium rate phone in voting. 7/. The Karaoke machine at private house parties can be worse than the ones in a bar. Guests may feel obliged to join in. Some may be bullied to do so. Others may hog the mic and preen their egoes. At one party I attended a guest went to his car, returning with a karaoke machine and setting it up to run his own show without asking the hosts first. I would have thrown him out. Even at another house party I went to with a quiet room for those not wanting to watch or join in the karaoke, guests faced an annoying twerp who kept going to see who was on next and running back in to loudly tell us what was going on, ruining any other civilized conversation. Karaoke is not the best thing since sliced bread but the worst thing since sour milk. If I was hosting a karaoke event I’d fill the machine with songs like Steeleye Span’s Gaudete (It’s in Latin) Arthur Chappell
8 people like this
• Los Angeles, California
Karaoke has its place . . . but yah, not cool when it's too in your face (or um, ears, that is). I was always a private karaoke-er - at home - still am. I did go to one party that was specifically a karaoke party . . . and that was actually a blast . . . and I was the only one who didn't drink. Some cultures expect karaoke in their celebrations/get togethers. I don't know why, they just do. I had a bad experience with my dad's cousin at my own parents' anniversary party in my early 20s. He told me if I didn't sing, he was going to get angry with me (). So I didn't sing .