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Why Is Karaoke So Popular in Asia?

By Staff Reporter | May 31, 2019 10:32 AM EDT

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Quick facts:

  • Appearance in video games - Its popularity made it become a part of video game culture as well, the earliest example of a karaoke-based video game being the 1985 release by Nintendo Famicom named Karaoke Studio. Other video games that involve singing by the player include Get On Da Mic, World Tour, Lips, Boogie, and Disney Sing It.

  • Karaoke playing machines are so popular in Southeast Asia that you can even find them in transportation vehicles like trains and buses.

  • Have fun in the cab - Whoever said that you can't have fun when you ride in a cab has definitely never been to South Korea. Here, an interesting trend appeared in the 1990s, taxicabs equipped with a microphone and sound systems appearing and having quite a massive success due to the fact that the rides are made more pleasurable through the entertaining activity.

  • Solo marathon record - Italian Leonardo Polverelli holds the world record for the solo karaoke marathon, the man singing an impressive 1295 songs in 101 hours, 59 minutes, and 15 seconds.

  • The first karaoke machine prototype was made in 1967 by Shigeichi Negishi, a car audio system assembly business owner from Tokyo.

  • Rate my talent - Technological advancements have come a long way on all fronts, and when it comes to karaoke video games, you can enjoy quite an interesting perk as you are rated on your singing depending on how well you are in-tune, timed, and based on other influential factors.

  • The first commercial producer of karaoke machines was the Clarion audio company.

While karaoke is well known in the US and the remainder of the world for that matter, it doesn't create as much publicity as it does in Asian nations, that's for sure. By and large, people respond contrastingly when they hear the word karaoke as for some it is a reminder of fun times, while for others it opens up memories of truly cringe moments from their lives. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, one thing is for sure - Asia is where this engaging activity is most popular.

  • Did you know? - In many Asian countries, coworkers go out together after office hours and they sing at karaoke bars, this activity being considered a prolific team building exercise.

Cultural differences

In the event that you live outside of the Asian mainland, odds are that you didn't have a karaoke machine in your home as you grew up. However, the situation greatly differs in Asian countries like Korea and the Philippines where it is commonplace to have the machine at home as singing is a large part of their culture.

As opposed to the US where few people have karaoke machines at home and those who do own them, use them when they have people over or they're throwing a party, in the Philippines and Korea kids are encouraged by their parents to use the machine they have at home whenever they want to unwind, thus their attachment for karaoke translating to when they grow up as well.

  • Did you know? - In many Asian countries, karaoke joints offer even over 30,000 songs to pick between, usually a third of them being in English, which is still a lot more than what karaoke bars in the US offer clients as the selection is usually comprised only of a few hundred songs.

Setting

When the rest of the world thinks about karaoke, one of two locations pops into mind - a bar or a club. Maybe it is the weird setting that has us a bit more frightened when it comes to singing in front of strangers as you cannot feel in your element knowing that not everyone there came for the singing, most people in the joint preferring to chat with their friends or have a drink.

This is where Asian countries do it completely right as they have special venues dedicated to this activity, known as karaoke boxes. These places are relatively small in size, and they are soundproof so that the noise won't bother neighboring buildings. The intimacy and coziness of the "box" makes people feel more comfortable and inclined to show off their skills if they're good at it or at least entertain the crowd if their voices are horrid.

Did you know? - There are traditional Chinese restaurants where the elderly play mahjong while teens sing karaoke, different generations harmoniously getting along by doing the activities they like most in the same joint. 

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