Whether you’re a wizard in karaoke or more of a newbie, there is no telling how versed you are in karaoke knowledge. We at Singa thought we’d give everybody an equal helping hand with some of the most common questions about karaoke.

So, here are six questions you may or may not have asked about karaoke. Regardless, you’re welcome 😄

1. What is karaoke?

Let’s start with the basics. Karaoke is an art form of its own, a real type of entertainment. At its core, people take turns singing popular songs, usually into a microphone with the support of recorded backing tracks with lyrics.

Karaoke is typically offered by karaoke bars and clubs but karaoke apps like Singa make it easy to sing at home, with friends, at work, on your own, and pretty much anywhere, anytime. Karaoke is about the sheer blast of letting a tune out regardless if it happens solo or in a group. The bottom line: singing belongs to everyone and all styles are welcome.

2. What does “karaoke” mean?

Karaoke is derived from two Japanese words: “kara” from the word “karappo”, meaning “empty” or “void”, and “oke” from the word “ōkesutora”, meaning “orchestra”. Basically, karaoke means an empty orchestra or an orchestra without vocals – and that’s exactly why you should fill that void by singing a karaoke song!

3. Who invented karaoke?

Let’s start by saying: it’s complicated. There are many theories on how karaoke started. According to one version, the term karaoke was first used when a Japanese orchestra which was supposed to perform went on a strike, and a machine was used instead to play the music.

There is also this story about a Japanese snack bar where the entertainer who was scheduled to perform couldn’t make it. As a result, the owner started playing recorded music and encouraged the customers to sing along.

And then there is that American musical variety, a TV show called Sing Along with Mitch. It aired originally on NBC from 1961 to 1964. The show featured song lyrics at the bottom of the TV screen, which some consider as the original karaoke experience.  

Whatever the case, Japanese musician Daisuke Inoue is best known as the inventor of the actual karaoke machine. He is, therefore, considered the “father of karaoke”. Inoue noticed a need for a product that would inspire people to interact with popular music. In 1971 he invented the first karaoke machine, the “8 Juke” or “Juke 8”.

“At that moment the idea for the Juke 8 dawned on me: You would put money into a machine with a microphone, speaker and amplifier, and it would play the music people wanted to sing.”

Daisuke Inoue, inventor of the karaoke machine

Daisuke Inoue with his 8 Juke
The “father of karaoke" Daisuke Inoue with his 8 Juke. Photo source.

Inoue never patented the karaoke machine but has said in several interviews that he had no regrets about it. He truly has encouraged people around the world to get their voices out there even if they don’t always hit the note.

4. Are there any benefits to karaoke?

Just ask how many! First of all, there is scientific proof that singing improves one's mental health. Singing releases oxytocin which relieves anxiety and stress. Singing, humming, and chanting also stimulates the vagus nerve which helps your body to relax and de-stress.

Studies also show that singing boosts the immune system, and can help with cognitive abilities, as well as memory. In addition, singing in groups increases the sense of community and belonging. Most importantly, the non-judgemental nature of karaoke makes people feel supported and valued.

Charly (RWANDA)

Oh, it’s big, alright! And not just in Japan. Karaoke is popular all over the world. Many Asian countries take karaoke to the next level. For example, in the Philippines, karaoke is pretty much a national pastime and it has become the number one activity for entertaining friends in and outside of the home. Almost every Filipino's home has some sort of a karaoke device.

Karaoke bars are not hard to come by in Western countries either. Most big cities house a bunch of venues. A recent study by Uswitch states that Paris, the city of romance, is also the home of 73 karaoke bars. London has 68 bars, while Canberra has 35, but a staggering 7.57 karaoke bars per capita – the highest rate in the world. Helsinki, of course, could be considered the karaoke capital of the North because two things undoubtedly unite Finns: sauna and karaoke!

As karaoke has become more and more popular, it is becoming the entertainment of choice for corporate parties. It's also making its way to festivals, hotels, libraries, movie theaters, and whatnot. According to estimates, the global karaoke market could be worth around $10 billion. Over 1000 karaoke venues (and growing fast) are powered by Singa karaoke software – a meaningful role in the international karaoke offering that we take pride in.

The list for most sung English language songs on Singa looks pretty similar in 2020 and 2021. Adele, Elvis and ABBA had several songs in the top 50 in both years, at least so far. It also looks like you can’t have a top 50 singlist without many Queen songs, some Bon Jovi, and a pinch of Oasis.

However, there is one song that stayed number one from 2020 to 2021: Shallow by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Shallow is also high on the list of most popular karaoke songs of all time where it has the 6th place.

The most popular karaoke song of all time has as many haters as it has lovers. It seems to be – drum roll, please –  Hotel California by the Eagles. No surprise there. Next time you want to rock the boat, you know which karaoke song to pick 😉

Bonus: 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of karaoke!

As the year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of karaoke, the triumphal march of karaoke success continues. Check out #50YearsofKaraoke and @singakaraoke on Instagram, as well as @singamusic on Facebook to celebrate karaoke's 50th birthday with us!

Equipped with this nicely compressed crash course on karaoke knowledge, feel free to impress folks in karaoke venues near you!