16 Dec 2006

Karaoke Culture

From The Secret Life Of, 4:00 pm on 16 December 2006

Karaoke in an Irish pup in Hamburg Photo CC BY Hinnerk R menapf
Karaoke in an Irish pup in Hamburg Photo CC 3.0 BY Hinnerk Rümenapf.

Opening one's hearts and lungs - not to mention humiliating oneself in public - isn't something that comes naturally to the humble New Zealander. But when faced with a backing track and a microphone, some find the urge to do so becomes irresistible.

Aptly, the Japanese word 'karaoke' translates as 'empty orchestra' and in its homeland and throughout Asia is a talent show for amateurs.

Karaoke was introduced to the western world in the 90s. Now karaoke bars, with their vinyl-covered songbooks and loops of irrelevant video, are a staple of New Zealand life. Secret ambitions are fulfilled and limited talent is no object…

Julie Hill steps inside the loud, drunken and often atonal world of karaoke.