The Karaoke Phenomenon | From the Early Years Until Today

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The Karaoke Phenomenon

Karaoke is made up of two Japanese words:”kara”, which means “empty” in English and “oke”, which is the short form for “orchestra”, so the word “karaoke” in English means “empty orchestra”.

Karaoke is one of the most popular activities that many people all over the world engage in for entertainment purposes. As many of us might already know, it is a type of interactive entertainment which makes use of a device or machine that plays only the instrumental versions of popular songs, so that anybody can complete the song by singing the omitted vocals with the aid of a microphone. The lyrics of the songs are usually displayed on the device’s screen in order to allow singers to sing along to the song. The device or machine that plays the popular songs and displays their lyrics is called a karaoke machine.

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History of Karaoke

The karaoke machine was first invented in the city of Kobe, Japan in the early 1970s by a Japanese musician and businessman named Daisuke Inoue.

The idea of coming up with the karaoke first popped into Inoue’s mind when a client of his, who only knew how to sing to Inoue’s keyboard playing, needed him to back him with his keyboard while he sung. But since Inoue was unable to accompany the client to the event, he recorded a number of songs on a tape recorder in keys that were very compatible with the client’s voice.

Inoue’s hope was that his client could use the instrumental recordings on the tape as a support during his performance. The client went away with the tape recorder, and the songs on the tape supported him brilliantly during his performance. Upon his return from the event, he asked Inoue if he could record more songs for him.

It was at this point that the idea of the karaoke machine dawned on Inoue. And with the help of an acquaintance, he built the world’s first karaoke machine in 1971. The machine was equipped with a speaker, microphone, amplifier and a coin box that had the ability to play songs when money was put inside it.

However, interestingly enough, Inoue failed to patent his invention because he never knew the karaoke machine would become globally demanded. As a result of his failure to patent his invention, an audio company named Clarion eventually went on to become the world’s first commercial producers of the karaoke machine. These early karaoke machines were often found in hotels, restaurants and bars, where they allowed customers to have fun while enjoying their meals and drinks. Having gained immense popularity in Japan, karaoke began spreading fast to other parts of the world, and soon became a worldwide phenomenon.

The 1980s saw the creation of the karaoke box, which took over the karaoke world by storm. A karaoke box is simply a private room that comes with microphones and karaoke players. These karaoke boxes are normally found in karaoke bars and establishments and give a customer the unique opportunity of singing in a private environment instead of in front of other customers in the bar.

Early Age of the Karaoke Machine

When karaoke machines were first introduced to the public in the 1970s, they were basically made up of cassette tape players and 8-track cartridges. The machines came along with printed lyrics sheets so that the karaoke singer could look at the printed lyrics while they sang. The 1980s saw a shift from cassette player karaoke machines to LaserDisc (LD) technology based machines.  This new change brought a significant improvement in the karaoke experience since it gave karaoke lovers the opportunity to watch the video of the lyrics of the song while they sung. The cassette tape player karaoke players could never do this.

Early Karaoke Machine
Early Karaoke Machine

Karaoke Today

Starting from the 1990s, the communication karaoke was introduced to the industry. These karaoke machines gave karaoke singers the unique opportunity to sing songs and watch karaoke music videos from commercial content providers located in remote locations. Unlike the older karaoke machines which allowed karaoke singers to play songs that were only physically available in the karaoke establishment they found themselves, this brilliant communication system made it possible for one to request virtually any song from anywhere. So for example, if you wanted to play an Elton John song which wasn’t physically available in the bar or restaurant that you found yourself in, you could easily request it from a remote vendor and play it.

Today, owing to the massive advancement in technology, the karaoke industry has undergone even more dramatic changes. It has evolved from cassette tapes to CDs to LaserDics to DVDs. The evolution has been so substantial it has gotten to the point where karaoke can now even be found on mobile devices, video games, computers and the Internet.

Modern Karaoke Establishments

Over the years, the karaoke establishment or bar has also undergone massive evolution. Unlike in the past, today, the average karaoke bar, lounge, or restaurant gives karaoke singers the option of either performing publicly or privately. In performing publicly, the establishment allows the singer to sing to the hearing of the other patrons in the bar. If the singer doesn’t want to sing publicly, they can use a karaoke box. Karaoke establishments of today can have as many as 20 or more karaoke boxes where customers can sing in private. The majority of these karaoke establishments also give customers the opportunity to order drinks and even food while they are in the karaoke boxes.

Karaoke on Mobile Devices & on the Internet

Thanks to advancement in technology, these days, you don’t have to visit a karaoke bar to enjoy karaoke. You can do that from the comfort of your own home or on the go. All you need is just a good internet connection and a computer or a mobile device. There are several karaoke apps for both Android and IOS, which can turn your smartphone into one heck of an excellent karaoke machine. With these cool apps, you get to see the lyrics of the songs on your Smartphone’s screen while you sing along to the instrumental version of the song that is played on the phone.

Away from karaoke apps for smartphones, there are also numerous websites that offer free and high-quality karaoke services. One such great site is Most of these super fun karaoke websites give you the opportunity to choose from thousands of songs from their libraries for free. Some websites even allow you to record your performances and later share them with friends.

K3 is a Belgian-Dutch girl group with a Dutch repertoire, whose current line-up is composed of Hanne Verbruggen, Marthe De Pillecyn and Klaasje Meijer, mainly aimed at pre-adolescent children.
K3 is a Belgian Dutch girl group with a Dutch repertoire mainly aimed at pre adolescent children

Karaoke for Kids

Just as you have seen from above, karaoke is no longer peculiar only to restaurants, clubs and bars. Today, there are many different models of karaoke machines that are designed to be used right from the comfort of your home, including karaoke machines for kids.

The market is currently flooded with all manners of fun kids’ karaoke machines. These machines, which are designed specially for kids, come equipped with numerous excellent features that make karaoke the more fun for your kid such as microphones, screens that show the lyrics of the songs being played, voice recording abilities,

Disney bundles that feature various Disney themes such as Frozen, and very interesting light shows. Some of the most popular karaoke machines for children include Singing Machine SML283, Disney’s Frozen Disco Party, Karaoke USA GF829, and others. Because of how much children love to hear themselves sing, karaoke machines designed specifically for them bring so much joy to them.

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