Although karaoke is popular at house parties in England, it is in China and Japan that many people will spend a whole night out singing along to classic songs with varying degrees of success.
Karaoke originated in Japan in the early 1970s. In the early sixties, however, American TV network NBC started a show with karaoke elements to it, but being able to hear the vocals whilst they were singing meant it was considered to be more of a sing-a-long rather than karaoke.
So, as the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Chinese do. Karaoke, also known as KTV, is incredibly popular in China, with over 20 bars in Hangzhou alone, and with our closest one just a five-minute walk away, our 30-strong party set off. Writes Joe Breeze…
The strangest thing for an English person to get their head around when entering the venue is how alcohol is purchased. Rather than buying it from a bar inside or being served by a waiter/waitress, you buy it from a Costcutter-style mini-mart before entry and your purchases are carried through to your private booth. This may sound simple, but with the language barrier it was initially very hard to believe this wasn’t a practical joke being played on us!
Once inside, the alcohol arrived alongside popcorn, fresh fruit and various other munchies – English bars could definitely learn a thing or two from the Chinese about customer service. While the Coventry students were initially reserved about ‘getting up on the mic’ (at least until the alcohol took over), the ZUMC students had no hesitation in belting out classics from MJ, Queen and ahem… Blue.
Many of the Chinese students had some pretty amazing voices, clearly down to the amount of practice they have had (well that’s our excuse anyway). Switching between classic English tunes and contemporary Chinese pop songs with no problem at all, the Coventry students were admittedly put to shame. One thing we learnt – keeping up with 50 Cent rapping is a lot easier than it looks!
Clearly the greatest achievement of the night, however, was getting John Mair to sing, after flatly refusing for most of the evening. I fear, though, that his recital of Brian Adams’ classic ‘Everything I do (I do for you)’ would get a resounding “NO!” from the X-Factor judges.