Karaoke by Xun Zhou
The Global Phenomenon

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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’.

About Xun Zhou

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Zhou Xunis the ESRC Research Fellow in the history department at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies at the University of London. She is coeditor with Sander L. Gilman ofSmoke, published by Reaktion Books, and coauthor ofNarcotic Culture, published by the University of Chicago Press.Francesca Taroccois a musicologist and lecturer in Buddhist studies at the University of Manchester.  
Published June 28, 2013 by Reaktion Books. 224 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography.

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