Throughout China and East Asia, karaoke enthusiasts have been emerging at every corner, looking to unleash their musical divas and virtuosos. This increasingly popular leisure activity has taken over the entertainment scene in cities as the thing to do and place to go as millennials and younger generations look to gather for a date night, a weekend activity, a family event or just a social media platform to exchange musical performances.Chinese karaoke has evolved into a pastime quite different than its Western counterpart. In China, this karaoke phenomenon has taken on a techno twist and integrated social media, the smartphone, texting, following and posting. Known as KTV, it is much more lux than the Western version. Contrary to the cramped booth with a single microphone and an outdated TV screen, Chinese KTV is performed in a lounge-setting with a reserved private suite, plush upholstered couches, modernly cool lighting, state-of-the-art surround sound systems, and most importantly, a soundproof door. A plethora of delicious gourmet food is available to the guests at the KTV spots, so one can dine and drink, while performing their favorite tunes. Not only is Chinese pop music available, but also a selection of American party songs are as well. During my visit to China, I had the opportunity to share in the karaoke craze in Xi’an. Our exchange students surprised us with a KTV experience, located in a neighboring shopping mall, CityAn, adjacent to our school. What a musical extravaganza we shared! We sang, side-by-side, American pop music, British Invasion music and Chinese pop. One moment that forever resonates was singing Gao Bai Qi Qiu, a popular song by Jay Chou.Many technology companies are also tapping into the karaoke craze. KTV can be done on the go, with spacious soundproof booths conveniently placed in shopping malls. By using WeChat Pay, one can scan a QR code, and reserve their spot for even up to an hour. According to locals in China, this is much more accessible than the KTV houses, where one must make a reservation for a suite. Once they finish their solo, they can post it through WeChat, mimicking an “audio selfie.” Other companies have included the use of celebrities in their karaoke. San Francisco-based company SMULE has created an app in which users can record duets with their favorite stars, like Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth. One is able to share their duet on social media sites like Instagram and WeChat.This craze of elaborate Chinese karaoke has recently been expanding westward and northward to Canada. According to a December 2017 New York Times article, karaoke clubs have become a popular attraction of the suburbs of Vancouver, BC. Chinese immigrants moving to these metropolitan areas have transplanted the pastime to these neighborhoods. Sharing the cuisines of various Chinese provinces and songs in Mandarin and Cantonese, the karaoke experience at PartyWorld KTV has invaded an enclave of British Columbia with flying notes. Hopefully this escape of Chinese karaoke will continue in its westward expansion and provide a retreat for the New York metropolitan crowd.
Some of the information and pictures in this article came from the following sources:
Karaoke Dragon – Illustration. 4 Nov. 2009. iStock Photo by Getty, Getty Images, www.istockphoto.com/vector/karaoke-dragon-gm92723807-7202029. Accessed 13 Jan. 2018.
Levin, Dan. “In a Chinese Enclave of Canada, the Sweet Escape of Karaoke.” The New York Times [New York], 27 Dec. 2017, International sec., p. A8.
Mini Karaoke box to face homogenization before winning market. CGTN, news.cgtn.com/news/3d4d544f77556a4d/share_p.html?t=1487341041701. Accessed 13 Jan. 2018.
Pham, Sherisse. “The New Way to Karaoke in China: On the Go and by Yourself.” CNN Tech, 5 June 2017, money.cnn.com/2017/06/05/technology/karaoke-changes-china-beijing/index.html. Accessed 13 Jan. 2018.