Karaoke die? Never!

The great singing craze isn't facing the final curtain, say its fans – it is just taking a different shape

It is so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye to karaoke. Growing numbers of pubs are cutting singalong nights from their entertainment line-ups. The Japanese singing sensation is off key with landlords, according to a survey for The Publican magazine that reveals a 5 per cent drop in pubs offering karaoke nights.

Karaoke, which means "empty orchestra" in Japanese, became a global phenomenon in the 1990s, and nearly 11,000 British pubs and bars ran karaoke nights at its peak. But as pub landlords fight for every pound in the recession, karaoke is losing out to more traditional entertainments such as darts, pool and jukeboxes, which are all on the increase, according to the survey.

"Karaoke seems to be losing its voice. Licensees feel there is more money to be made from other types of entertainment," The Publican reported. Neil Williams, of the British Beer and Pub Association, said landlords were simply catering to their customers. "Customers are demanding coffee machines and internet access. If fewer karaoke machines are being offered by pubs, it's because they're not bringing in the punters like they used to. Karaoke has been around for a number of years and these things tend to oscillate."

One measure of karaoke's decline was the fact there are no British contenders at the annual World Karaoke Championships in Finland this week.

Can it really be the final curtain? Its defenders insist that reports of its demise are exaggerated. Mitchells & Butlers, a leading pub operator, said karaoke was doing "phenomenally well" as a result of bringing in live bands to accompany singers. Champions of karaoke say more people are doing it for themselves at home, helped by Sony PlayStation's singalong SingStar. Others, meanwhile, prefer to risk embarrassment in the private rooms of dedicated karaoke bars than in front of complete strangers down the pub.

Karaoke fans

Ben Miller


"I like to sing David Bowie songs: he's got a range of four notes and I've got an even smaller range of three notes, so I'm able to bluff my way through the song. If people can't get karaoke in pubs it will just move underground, rather like smoking now that they can't do that in pubs any more. Karaoke won't die; it will just keep evolving into different forms."

Nell McAndrew


"I actually bought my mum a karaoke machine a few years ago for a Christmas present and was tempted to keep it for myself, but ended up just using it at her house. The novelty soon wore off and we gave it to my niece. The thing I love least about karaoke is when someone really terrible decides to hog the microphone for most of the night. It's pure torture."

Andrew Collins

Broadcaster and writer

"I have never actually done karaoke in a pub, but have enjoyed playing SingStar on my nephew and niece's PlayStation. I've never inflicted my singing voice on the actual public before. 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' by Elton John and Kiki Dee has been molested on more than one occasion in my presence. My advice: never attempt a duet, no matter how attractive safety in numbers may seem."

Russell Grant


"I love karaoke and I don't actually need any encouragement to get up and sing. Back in the Nineties I went over to a hotel in Hong Kong where they had the very first karaoke room in a hotel in the world. I love all the unsung, or should I say, ill-sung, or well-sung, people who get on the karaoke machine and let rip. Why not, for God's sake?"

Siân Lloyd


"I sing like a pet shop on fire so I am not a natural at karaoke. But I do sing Welsh hymns in the shower, much to my husband's amusement. I don't like karaoke because it's more about the individual than the shared delight of people singing together. I prefer the joyous spirit of voices singing with gusto, as opposed to the slightly narcissistic showing off of karaoke."

Iwan Thomas

Former British Olympic athlete

"I love it. I usually hold a karaoke party every Near Year's Eve. All the songs and names go into a hat and get picked out at random. I know it's very cheesy, but it's lots of fun. I usually do the Robbie Williams song 'Angels'. Alcohol always helps, of course, and makes anyone think they can sing like a God."

Tom Harris

Transport minister

"I had a karaoke machine at my London flat before I became a minister in 2006 and I used to host karaoke parties. I often go to a karaoke bar with some of my fellow MPs; I can't reveal their names because I'm sworn to secrecy. But I can tell you that the Happy Mondays and Seventies rock are very popular choices. My favourite number is 'Home' by Michael Bublé."

Jenny Powell

TV Presenter

"I used to cringe at karaoke but now I'm at that ripe old age where I get really excited if someone's got a karaoke machine. I think it finds that bit of performer in all of us that we never knew we had. It's always the quiet ones that make you think, 'well, they'll never do that' and then they get up and it unleashes the beast in them."

David Beckham
peopleFootballer joins No campaign
Angel Di Maria
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
newsIn short, yes
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

QA Manual Tester - Agile

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Bursar/Business Manager

£70 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Experienced bursar or business...

Secondary School Teachers in Ipswich

Competitive & Flexible: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are l...

Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Qualified and/or experienced te...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories