I’ll keep this quick.
The Japanese word karaoke roughly translates to “empty orchestra”, which matches what we as English speakers understand the concept to represent: singing over the instrumentals of a familiar song. Aside from trivia games, there may not be a more ubiquitous theme night in bars across the country, and generally speaking, people seem to be fine with this setup.
There are some of us in the world who have less than stellar singing voices, but still find immense joy in performing songs as if we were the lead singer of the band. So then, why isn’t there a universal option at karaoke nights that allow for a ballad’s original vocals to be played in tandem with the live crooning, thereby creating something resembling a harmonized sound?
In a perfect world, the karaoke DJ would have access to some type of volume dial so that the performer could choose a preferred level of vocals behind them to feel confident on stage. Of course, the option to use the standard instrumental track would still be available, preserving the normal karaoke experience for those who want it.
Though this system may not immediately result in waves of new people drumming up the courage to participate, the longer it’s around the more familiar the idea will become, and some indeterminate percentage will eventually want to attempt the experience for themselves. In that version of events, the experience as a whole has a higher ceiling for fun, and the venue, the DJ and the patrons all benefit (really, the only people who might be against this are those who enjoy being on the mic every fourth song or so.)
If offering this kind of increased optionality to the performer would facilitate more first-hand participation from the crowd, shouldn’t we steer toward making that a reality?
Certainly, there are numerous details to get straight before full implementation, but, like anything, the only real way to find out what works and what doesn’t is to actually experiment with the concept.
So, in that spirit, I’ll start: How does pair-aoke sound as a nickname? I know, I know, the more you think about the name, the less it makes any sense, but a low bar is better than no bar! Let’s go.