Cultural snapshot #3 karaoke.

Welcome back to the mic globetrotters. Well most of us know Karaoke as a Japanese invention (although this point is hotly contested by the resourceful Filipinos who invented the ‘minus- one-music machine’) but how do people Karaoke around the world? This week your GTG investigates who enjoys karaoke, why and how they do it.

English: A Sennheiser Microphone

English: A Sennheiser Microphone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coming from Japanese meaning ’empty orchestra’, many find it suitable for an impromptu recital, anytime, anywhere, and according to your GTG, rightly so.

Example of Karaoke subtitle. lyrics: ふじの山, an ...

Example of Karaoke subtitle. lyrics: ふじの山, an old Japanese song. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Karaoke in Japan is a little bit of everything all rolled into one. It’s a chance to let loose, to get close to that certain someone, to pass the time until your first train runs in the morning, to unwind at the end of an impossibly stressful day of business, and most of all, to appropriately mark any special occasion. Setting Karaoke apart in the land of the rising sun are the unique buildings or karaoke boxes where all the action happens (no pun intended). Karaoke is held in (usually) large buildings full of individual rooms that vary in size and theme. These themes can include anything from different kinds of fruit and a free ice-cream bar to a family-sized room with a designated children’s playground (which naturally the big kids found just as amusing).

In Australia, and many other western countries, Karaoke is an opportunity to revel shamelessly in a public affirmation of popular culture. Here the karaoke stage is just that, and open to the general public in both audience and show stopper.The idea here is your chance to play both dj and superstar simultaneously while your friends cheer you on amongst complete strangers shaking their thing to your sweet sweet sounds.The venue in this case is mostly a main room or section of a local pub, saving the owners from paying professional entertainers (insert political comment here).

English: Karaoke in the Irish Pub "The Ol...

English: Karaoke in the Irish Pub “The Old Dubliner” ( in Hamburg, Germany, picture taken without flash Deutsch: Karaoke im Irish Pub “The Old Dubliner” ( in Hamburg, kurz nach Halloween 2004, aufgenommen Available Light (ohne Blitz) Suomi: Karaokea hampurilaisessa “The Old Dubliner” irlantilaispubissa (2004) Français : Soirée karaoké dans un pub irlandais Italiano: Classico locale di Karaoke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Thailand, karaoke seems to be a favourite pastime while on the move. I can personally confess to having tried Karaoke in a four wheel drive, heading toward the golden triangle, hosted by our guide Nipon, and also on a bus from Satun to Hat Yai surrounded by an indifferent group of local commuters. Why just move when you can move and shake?

Lisbon (Portugal) offered the added bonus of a whole waterfront setting to serenade. Having made a new pair of local friends in the Eastern wharf district of Oriente, Andrea invited me to join her in a number of Celine Dion renditions. Normally proud of my musical achievements, the only reason any video evidence of this event remains is its value as a travel memento.

Well there you have it, whether passing the time or born to rock, Karaoke is generally a fun and unique way of achieving a great many things in life and luckily for us globetrotters can be enjoyed all around the world, even when discussing serious business. Happy crooning and until next week

Celine Dion performing "Taking Chances&qu...