karaoke is surely one of the best stress relief concepts invented by modern man. along with multi-storey golf driving ranges and hotsprings. and it's still massive business in japan. the whole booth situation means it usually starts relatively civilised - no-one having the pressure to perform in front of a whole pub. cocktails are, by and large, a scandal though (include the equivalent amount of alcohol found in a can of top-deck), but a good price can usually be found for 2 hours and unlimited beer. and oh - the 2 hours are never enough - it's usually more like 4.
usually after a hearty piss-up, karaoke comes around when the last trains have just rolled away and you've made that decision. you're staying out. you'll sing 'til dawn and/or be driven home by someone many times over the legal limit. drink driving is just a fact of life in japan, if a sad one.
so anyway - karaoke is also a way of seeing the japanese come out their shells, get pished in a confined room and humiliate themselves. that goes for gaijin too, but then we humiliate ourselves on a more regular basis. it's interesting that the song book (which is digital in many karaoke-houses now) that is refused in the beginning of the night, cannot be passed quickly enough by the end of it - though that is possibly the effects of alcohol being mixed into the equation too.
the background scenes playing on the screen, accompanied by the shocking synthisised versions of all those classic tunes, are in many cases hysterical, bear no resembelance to the song (unless you sing the beatles and you generally get a view of the houses of parliament and black cabs flying by) but just put the icing on the kitch cake that is this institution. it should be noted that the music and video are not what ruin all your favourite songs - but your own nasty, nasty renditions!
more often than not, it should be noted, karaoke is preceeded by a train ride involving alco-pops and train-handle gymnastics. it just is. I can't say why.Posted by stupot at June 6, 2005 12:39 AM