Contrary to popular belief,' Karaoke'
is not Japanese for "drunk and tone-deaf".
It is a popular form of entertainment that originated in Japan
over thirty years ago.
'Karaoke' is an abbreviation of
"Karappo Okesutura", the Japanese word meaning "empty
orchestra" an apt description for singing along to a
music video, with the original vocals eliminated while reading
the lyrics displayed on the bottom of a video or television
screen. The word "Karaoke" is now listed in the
Oxford English Dictionary, for the term has become
widely recognised throughout the world.
origin of Karaoke in Japan could not be separated from the
traditional piano bar or guitar bar, which is the major premise
of entertainment for Japanese business people since a long
time ago. In the bars, the audience could be invited or even
volunteered to sing with accompaniment of piano or guitar.
It is also said when a strolling guitarist could not come
to perform at the bar due to illness or other reasons, the
owner of the bar prepared tapes of accompaniment recordings,
and vocalists enjoyed singing to the tapes. This preceded
the birth of Karaoke.
is now widely recognized that the use of Karaoke starts earliest
in Kobe city of Japan in 1970s. Kobe is a port city in Kansai
areas, which was opened to international trade early in 1868
during the Meiji period. As an opening gate for Japan, Kobe
enjoys the fame of being the leader of the fashion and trend.
Indeed, its has created a lot of unique business and products
such as instant noodle, supermarket, sauna, automated ticket
gates, etc. There is saying in Japan that "New trend
comes from the West of Japan (which is Kansai) and Fashion
comes from Kobe."
has become deeply embedded in Japanese culture.Group
value is the most important attribute of Japanese culture.
The recognition of individual identity is achieved through
establishing relationship with the others, maintaining and
reinforcing relationship. The group mentality has a deep root
in the typical oriental ideologies, shaped primarily by Confucianism
and Taoism. Japanese leading philosophy Shintoism is actually
the extension of Taoism. The emphasis on the seeking of harmony
is the primary consideration to all these philosophies. It
suggests that the morality of each human is only embodied
in relation with rest of human society.
relations are an integrated part of people's life. The objective
of entertainment is not primarily entertaining oneself , instead,
a way to indulge oneself in the group and interacting with
each other. Given this background, it is reasonable to say
that Karaoke is not only preferred for leisure and enjoyment,
but also, it has significant social function. No one goes
to Karaoke individually, and it is taken as granted that you
should always be with your friends there, either business
colleageus, close friends or even family members.
Japan is a corporate society, i.e. the whole society is dedicated
solely to corporation. Individual is identified with the corporation.
Excessively long working hour is the norm for a corporate
person. The people's life centers around the corporation,
functioning as part of production machines. The constraints
on individual lives have become needlessly binding.
the value of harmony and group thinking restrain the people
from expressing their wish and opinion. Obeying the order
and diligently playing the assigned role is the principle
of individualism gives another reason for the boom of Karaoke
in Japan. This is because Karaoke, provides one of the few
chances for an individual to show himself or herself in front
of others with his or her own voice, without being branded
arrogant or self-centered. It fulfills the latent desire or
urge to gain credit as an individual without jeopardizing
the need to be accepted by the whole group. For the people
living in stressful society, there is no other entertainment
that can make them so refreshed and relieved.
Constraint Given the limited natural environment in the country
and increasing urbanization, there are less and less land
spaces available for outdoor leisure activities, which, of
course, stimulates the development of on-premise (indoor)
entertainment business like bar, Karaoke, sauna, etc. The
space limit as well as the need for sound proof, Karaoke Box,
a roadside facility containing closed-door insulated rooms
for singing, was created in 1984. The first Karaoke box appeared
in 1984 in rice field in the countryside of Okayama prefecture,
west of the Kansai areas. It was build from a converted freight
car. Since then, Karaoke boxes have been built on unoccupied
ground all over Japan, and in urban areas, Karaoke rooms,
which consist of compartments made by partitioning and soundproofing
rooms in a building, were introduced and set up one after
boom of Music Vedio Music video, as a newly developed business
form of Pop music industry, provides a precondition for the
development of Karaoke. Karaoke actually exploded out from
Japan after the development of Laser Disc (LD), and Compact
Disc (CD + graphic) technologies, which allowed for the lyrics
displayed on a TV screen while the music is playing and also
immediate location of each single song. For the benefit of
recording companies, the commercialization of Karaoke business
provides an excellent medium for the promotion of POP songs
and new stars.
boom, originated in Japan 30 year ago and embedded in its
unique national culture, has spread abroad, enjoyed not only
widely in Korean, China, Southeast Asia, but also in Europe
and U.S. There might be several apparent factors contributing
not only to its current success but also future prospects.
Nothing would explain better than the irresistable fun of
Karaoke. People love music. People love singing. Karaoke can
make you sound better than you actually do. Self-fulfillment
is a universal human nature, no matter what culture it is.
More frequent cross-cultural interaction between the east
and the west makes the world more diverse than ever. People,
wherever they are, accept anything that is "good".
McDonalds is everywhere, Chinese restaurants are everywhere.
Although it is a debated issue that the world is becoming
a homogeneous one, but the convergence is one thing for sure.
popularity of Karaoke should also be attributed to its operational
simplicity and flexibility in application. To play Karaoke,
you only need a TV, a VCR (CD +graphic) and a tape. Now it
can even be played on Computer. It is applicable and has actually
applied to all kind of music, from the newest pop or country
hits, to classic rock, and oldies, R&B hits, children
songs, Christian song, ethnic songs, and more.
Since Karaoke displays the words and scenes of a song on a
monitor, it has also been attracting the attention of countries
trying to improve their literacy rate, as a good education
tool. This might be the unexpected effect of Karaoke.
all the above factors contributing to its success, it is very
likely that Karaoke, the entertainment industry born in a
small night spot in Kansai, will continue to make further
strides both at home and abroad, at least for the near future.
it is unreasonable to say that the today's dominant position
of Karaoke in Japan and other Asian countries is not going
to be challenged by other new coming form of entertainment.
In Japan, there has been a conscious social efforts in the
revaluation and liberation of individuals. A fundamental reform
has been proposed against traditional ideological values,
and the original social organization. It is hard to predict
but interesting to see how these potential changes are going
to affect the development of Karaoke in the future.