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200 × 150 × 17 mm
224 pages
60 colour illustrations
01 Nov 2006
  • £14.95

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Karaoke The Global Phenomenon Francesca Tarocco, Zhou Xun

In Japanese the term Karaoke means, literally, ‘empty orchestra’. One definition disparagingly describes it as the ‘social sensation from Japan where sufficiently inebriated people embarrass themselves in public by singing along to a music track with the lyrics displayed on a TV screen’. In recent years the world has been witnessing a massive worldwide karaoke explosion.

In Karaoke, Zhou Xun and Francesca Tarocco address the complexity of this social craze, exploring its emergence in post-war Japan, its development and spread across the world to become a phenomenon that constantly evolved to keep pace with changes in technology and culture. Drawing on extensive research and travels around the world, the authors chart the varied manifestations of karaoke, from karaoke taxis in Bangkok to nude karaoke in Toronto, to the role of karaoke in prostitution. Extensive personal anecdotes reveal the dramatic range of social experiences made possible by karaoke and how the obsession with performance and song has touched politics, history and pop culture throughout global society. Karaoke bars are at the heart of rich escapist fantasies, and the authors - in readable fashion and using vibrant illustrations - document this unpredictable fantasy world and the people who inhabit it.

A fascinating and highly informative read, Karaoke will delight all those who have had the courage to take the mike and front the ‘empty orchestra’.

‘[A] glossily illustrated anthropological tour of karaoke in Britain, Brazil, China, Japan and points in between.’ — The Guardian

‘How could a book on Karaoke fail? This one comes beautifully packaged . . . It ranges far and wide, from religion to cowboys, from technology to competing invention stories . . . the volume is at all times an enjoyable read, made all the more enjoyable, I suspect, because so many of us are closet Karaoke singers . . . full of anecdotes and brimming with information . . . Excellent photographs, widely sourced, creating a package that can never bore.’ — Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

‘The strength of Karaoke is in the diversity and breadth of its material. Xun and Tarocco offer a perceptive outline of this captivating medium, raising nearly as many questions as they answer and supplying scholars and karaoke fans with provocative fodder for further inquiry.’ — International Journal of Communication

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Francesca Tarocco is a lecturer in Buddhist Studies at the University of Manchester.

Zhou Xun is ESRC Research Fellow in the History Department at SOAS, University of London, and the author of Chinese Perceptions of 'Jews' and Judaism (2001), Judaism: A History of the Youtai (2000). He is also co-editor with Sander L. Gilman of Smoke: A Global History of Smoking (Reaktion, 2004)

1.  Who Invented Karaoke?
2.  'Karaoke Fever':  Japan and Korea
3.  Karaoke Wonderland:  South-east Asia
4.  The Disneyland of Karaoke Palaces:  China
5.  Karaoke for the Soul:  Karaoke and Religion
6.  'Naked Karaoke' and the Cowboys:  North America
7.  The 'Karaoke' Nation:  Britain
8.  'Karaoke Forever':  Europe
9.  Karaoke
10.  Karaoke Revolution:  Karaoke Technologies
Epilogue:  Karaoke at the Frontiers
Photo Acknowledgements