For more than thirty years, people around the world have gotten to understand each other a little better through the practice of joining to sing popular karaoke songs. There have been numerous new innovations in the world of karaoke, since its humble beginnings in Asia.
In the Asian community, private karaoke boxes that cater for small groups of friends are popular attractions to restaurants and other venues that host karaoke. They are also a feature in parts of California and Toronto. A few mobile phone networks have caught on to the craze and launched applications that allow users to turn their phones into portable karaoke devices. Karaoke on Demand is a free-streaming service that can be subscribed to and in places like London and South Korea, karaoke cabs, taxis with karaoke systems, hit the streets in the 1990s.
Gay themed karaoke bars have evolved to become a tourist attraction of sorts in the Philippines and in the United States, a new form of karaoke, known as live band karaoke, has emerged. Live band karaoke has a large following with the hard rock, punk and metal crowd. Here live musicians replace the karaoke machine. Many fans deck themselves out in hair metal wigs and full leathers and if image is not enough to get you through your performance, the band might well provide a helping hand by slowing the tempo or providing some helpful backing vocals.
Using the same basic concept as karaoke, some churches in the United Kingdom have embraced a new type of accompaniment to their hymns – a device known as the Hymnal Plus or HT-300. It boasts the memory capacity to store 2750 hymns in mp3 files, can alter the keys of hymns or jazz them up with a disco beat. It replaces the traditional organist but comes at the stiff price of $3,500.
For singers wanting to perfect their vocal performance, the carry-a-tune Singing Coach software incorporates karaoke features. The program, which includes a karaoke type microphone, evaluates your voice range and judges your singing by giving you a score out of a possible 100.
Sinister, rather than sensational, are a string of murders that have been called the ‘My way-killings’, as they each targeted a karaoke singer over his performance of Frank Sinatra’s signature tune. As a result, many karaoke bars in the Philippines, where the murders took place, no longer allow participants the choice of that song. A Vietnamese oil company recently penalized twenty-one workers for not participating in the firm’s karaoke event.
From time to time, someone aspires to set a world record in a karaoke related event. One such person was Ken Parsons of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada, who performed karaoke numbers for fifty-five hours, eleven minutes and thirty in 2010. For the longest karaoke marathon with multiple participants, various attempts have been made in recent years, in locations such as Finland and India, but the latest record was set in the United Kingdom, when singers delivered 781 hours and 31 minutes worth of karaoke in a session lasting longer than one calendar month.