Thursday, May 1, 2014

Japan Trip XIX: Karaoke

Of course, we couldn't go a week in Japan without having a karaoke night. While sing-alongs have existed as long as lyrical music, karaoke in its current form was popularized in Japan, and today they still lead the way in karaoke technology.

So that night, after eating at the railgun sushi place and saying farewell to Xan and Steven, we returned to Tama Plaza near our house and visited a nearby karaoke establishment.

Nobody was more excited than Lindsay to bring us there, since she's very familiar with how fun a karaoke party could be.

She checked in with the receptionist and figured out the price per hour, then we booked the room for however long we thought we'd need. We also got drinks, which were unlimited (which is important, since singing has a notorious drying effect on the throat).

We ended up in a smallish room with booth seating, a table, and a small stage. According to Lindsay, the rooms was actually bigger than normal, likely due to the size of our group. Most karaoke rooms don't have a stage--you simply pass the microphone around the booth.

There were two handheld devices that we passed around to add songs to the queue. You could sort through the songs by artist, by song title, and even by genre, I think. In between songs, the various screens would show the next few songs in the queue so that the participating singers could get ready.

The song selection was very wide, and included a large number of English pop songs we were familiar with. The only person who sang any Japanese songs was Lindsay.

During a song, the displays showed the upcoming lyrics, filling them in as they're supposed to be sung. The screens also showed a video that was supposed to go along with the music--sometimes (rarely) it was an official video that accompanied the song, like a music video or (in the case of "Let It Go") a scene from a movie.

However, there were a couple of generic videos of white people doing things that may or may not be related to the song. For instance, there was a video of a generic "rock group" either playing their instruments, walking down the street in a vaguely rebellious manner, or otherwise looking "cool." That music video accompanied any sort of rock-ish song, from "Smells Like Team Spirit" to "One Vision."

Speaking of which, I don't remember most of the songs I sang, but i think my first one was "One Vision" by Queen. Although I know I can hold a note usually, singing in front of people kinda freaks me out, so my singing during karaoke was... bleh. It got a bit better over time, though. The other songs I remember singing were Smashmouth's "Rockstar" (in the voice of Rockstar, the lion puppet), Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)", which I sang poorly since I don't actually know that song, and The Might Mighty Bosstones' "The Impression That I Get," which got pretty mcuh everyone in the room singing.

Altogether, the night was kind of a blur, and it was over too fast. In fact, we extended our time a couple of times: when you've got 15 minutes left, the front desk calls a phone in the room as a reminder,and they give you the option to extend your time if you want.

Altogether, karaoke is a fun time. I recommend it. Rock Band can kind of substitute with the right crowd, but the selection on Rock Band is very limited, and it feels like people are obligated to play the other instruments. I'm personally okay either way, but I can understand why some people might prefer straight karaoke in which the system isn't judging you (you have friends to do that for you).

1 comment:

  1. Karaoke is something I would have love to do in Japan but it was just me and my friend who wasn't very into the idea... Maybe next time.