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Feature StoryKyoto

Karaoke: Understanding the hype

Karaoke isn’t really a thing in America. Sure, we have karaoke bars here and there, and there are adult entertainment type places that have karaoke rooms, too, but it’s just not something you suggest to your friends on a random Thursday night. So when my sister’s boyfriend, who lived in Japan for about a year and a half, suggested that we do karaoke every other night, I was intrigued. He claimed that each and every place we would go to would be completely different from the one before it. Granted, I ended up failing on this mission because we didn’t get around to karaoke-ing until we got to Kyoto, but now I understand the hype.

Tyra Williams, student, belts out “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson.

On one of our nights in Kyoto, we set off on a new adventure to find and then understand why karaoke is such a big deal. And to be fair, I’ve done karaoke back in Texas and it was fun, but it’s such a big deal in Japan, I wanted to know why. The thing, I think, that makes people nervous about karaoke is that they think it’s done in front of a huge room full of complete strangers, but that’s not the case at all. You and your cohorts get your own private room to be as loud and crazy as you want to be. Another thing is that I feel like people think it has to be a performance but really, at least for us, we all just were fooling around singing to Red Hot Chili Peppers and Whitney Houston. And I know what you’re thinking and you’re right: Red Hot Chili Peppers and Whitney Houston makes for a weird combination but with the mix of other late 1990s tunes and early 2000s jams featuring Third Eye Blind and Michael Jackson, it all just fit. And that’s how this trip was, too. We all came from different backgrounds with different stories to tell, but in the end, we all came together to link up and sing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” at the end in perfect harmony.

The set up at Big Echo featuring the iPad where you choose songs and our beer that helped us get in the groove.

I think that’s why karaoke has the following it has in, not just Japan, but all of Asia. It is a place to express yourself and let loose. Because you’re in a room with only the people you came with, you don’t feel the same judgment that you would normally get stepping up to perform “Chop Suey” from System of a Down. Karaoke isn’t only for us young adults still holding onto some teen angst. There were groups of kids we heard when we walked to our room, which caused a small amount of confusion because it was around 11 p.m. Full grown adults also love karaoke, too! There were multiple groups of business men getting their groove on. Whether you are young or old, karaoke is a world of fun everyone should give in to. I mean, it’s the same thing you do in your car, so why not?

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