Yes, it exists. In Helsinki, Finland. Because the Fins LOVE karaoke.
Spots can also be found in abundance in the activity’s lesser-known cultural home: Helsinki, Finland. It’s a small capital city with about 30 karaoke bars one every few minutes walk in the center. Many pubs also have their own machines. There is a metal karaoke bar, a gay karaoke bar, and there is a public library with a karaoke booth. It is possible that many Finnish people love karaoke even more than the Japanese.
Hanna Ewens at Vice was on the first plane to Helsinki when she heard about these championships. Yet, once she got there, the existential but critical question that has vexed humanity for years raised its ugly head again – what exactly is karaoke?
What is karaoke? For the first of many times this weekend, I try to work it out. It’s not the same as an open mic night where you sing your own songs, with no recorded track, and a level of professionalism expected (for instance, actually knowing the words). Neither is it a Stars in Their Eyes-type scenario, since there’s no pressure to perform the song like the artist. It’s not drag, because, apart from one contestant dressed like a queen and a couple of guys singing Whitney Houston numbers, there isn’t anything political or subversive about what we’ve seen so far.
The true success of karaoke is the fact that the interpretation of what is considered ‘good’ can not be defined by any rules – it really is in the hands of those that witness the performance, coupled with the contextual elements that surround the performance: What song did the performer choose? What was the context which drove the choice of song? What or how did their outfit enhance the performance? The considerations could be endless. Knowing a good karaoke performance is sort of like porn – you know it when you see it.
Photo Credit – Hannah Ewens