Singing Karaoke has become a world wide favorite in the past few years, and has proven it's staying power among those that love music, and want to get into the act by doing more than being just a spectator. Most anyone who loves music, is a singer or an air guitarist, right? Karaoke offers average people the opportunity to do something extraordinary . . . get up on stage and perform the songs of their favorite stars. Karaoke singers have great fun as they "do their thing" on stage, and actually become stars among their friends & peers in the crowd watching.
It's more about fun, than about singing really good, and the beauty of it is that anyone can do it! Many of our cultural icons are known to show up at Karaoke shows & sing into the wee hours of the morning, because it's just so much fun!
The Karaoke music has come a long way since it's inception in the early 70s due to modern technology. Today, the music is top quality, and the lyrics to your favorite songs are displayed on a TV monitor on stage for singers to follow using CD+G discs (music on compact discs, with graphics for the lyrics) or other emerging formats.
In fact, most of today's big name recording stars use this format while performing live to insure they don't forget the words to the songs. (there's nothing more embarrassing than being a big star, and forgetting your lines!) Remember seeing all those monitors on stage while you're favorite star is performing? Well, one of them usually has a TV monitor built into it, so the performer can see the lyrics come across the screen. This is a major secret that big time artists, and recording companies don't want the public to find out! Karaoke is so big, those in the "big time" are using it to help them perform live concerts.
Elvis Presley was the first star to use this format, although he didn't have it on a TV monitor. He had cue cards with the lyrics to his songs on them, which led to further development of this idea using technology. To see Elvis using this concept in concert, just watch the old videos of Elvis in Hawaii. When the camera pans the crowd, you'll see a guy in front of the stage with big cue cards that have Elvis' lyrics written on them. Huh . . . Imagine that! The King of Rock n Roll, singing Karaoke!
It is claimed that Jimmy Hendrix was the first recording artist to produce an actual CD+G. Only difference was that his creation had psychedelic graphics, and not words, that moved to the music (acid anyone?). But still, his creation gave birth to the idea, and the technology of producing what is now know as the modern day Karaoke CD+G discs that are the foundation to what has become a world wide entertainment phenomenon that's constantly growing in popularity, and is here to stay!
The best music tracks are still produced by actual musicians in a recording studio. There are some "midi" karaoke songs, with the music created on computers, but we don't recommend them because they're so cheesy, They sound like elevator music, or Muzac. The CD+G format is the most common and accepted standard of singers and KJs the world over.
After the track is produced to sound almost identical to the original artist's recording, they put it into a computer (as a .wav file) and Graphics are added which are backgrounds (usually black, or blue in color) and the lyrics to the song being produced. The lyrics change form screen to screen similar to an animated slide show, with each screen showing up at the right time according to the song being played, so the singer can see the lyrics when needed.
The song lyrics are highlighted in time with the original lead singer, and the manufacturer of the Karaoke music has in studio singers to lay down the back-up vocals for songs that have background singing. When done right, it's hard to tell that the music track is not the original artist's studio music. This provides today's Karaoke enthusiasts very realistic sounding music to back them up, as they get up on stage and become the star that they are!
These days, you can find Karaoke shows in most any city, from the large metropolitan areas, to small rural communities, in the U.S. and across Europe, Australia, parts of Africa, Asia, and in Japan where Karaoke originated from and is still very big. Of course it was American ingenuity that has brought Karaoke to it's high~tech state of existance that it enjoys today.
Karaoke shows are most often found in nightclubs, bars, and cocktail lounges. Sometimes the venue puts on the show themselves, but most of the time there is a Karaoke operator, or KJ (Karaoke Jockey), that has spent thousands of dollars on sound equipment, and Karaoke music (which is the most expensive part of being a Karaoke operator), so they can provide fun & entertainment for the patrons of the venue in which they are playing.
As Karaoke singers get to the show, they thumb through the KJ's "songbook", which lists all the songs that are available to be performed on stage. Singers are usually provided with "sign-up slips" so they can sign up for their turn to sing on stage by writing down their name, the song they wish to sing, as well as the song number which is found in the KJ's songbook. This song number is an organizational feature used by the KJ to enable him to quickly find your song in his/her music selection, when it comes time to call a singer up to the stage to perform.
The KJ runs a "rotation" to keep the show organized, and is intended to make the show fair for all, and to allow as many people as possible to have their turn singing on stage. It's standard practice to have singers come up & perform in the order that the KJ received the singer's sign-up slips (first come, first served). The KJ himself will usually starts the show off by singing the first song themselves, as well as singing at the "top" of each rotation (that's after the last person in line sings, and it's time to start over with the first person in line again)
The KJ is being paid by the venue that the show is being hosted in, to provide entertainment for the patrons of that venue. The KJ's job is to create a fun, relaxed atmosphere for singers to sing karaoke and enjoy themselves. The show is not about the KJ showing off, and singing a bunch of times, or letting his friends sing a lot. It is recommended that if you witness such activity (usually very rare) that you notify the manager, or owner of the venue, so they can correct the situation, and return the show to it's original intent . . . allowing people to have fun singing!
Sold, yet? Singing Karaoke is very fun, and addictive, once you give it a try & get up on stage and sing! There's no need to be nervous, as everyone you see singing had their first time singing in front of the crowd too. Experienced singers might not tell you this, but 99% of everyone singing their very first song, didn't sound real good. That's the beauty of singing karaoke . . . it's all about fun, and anyone can do it! And every one gets better the more they sing. Heck, some go on to sing in bands, and other places thanks to the experience, and self confidence gained by singing Karaoke.
Experience the rush of singing one of your favorites tonight! Find a Karaoke show near you, and dive in . . . the water is fine! You'll be glad you did, and you'll make some good friends along the way.