Have you hidden behind the boundaries of a single music genre all your life? Is your CD collection boring and scarce? Have you started to notice that all the music that’s commercially successful seems like variations on a single theme–a theme that you’re getting tired of? Here’s how to offer your ears a new and ever-changing menu of music.
Listen to internet radio stations. Forget standard radio. Browse all kinds of stations–international, trip hop, electronica, alternative, death metal, soundtracks, etc. Let them play in the background while you browse the Web, answer emails. If you hear a song you like write down the title, album, and artist.
Browse music stores online. Type in the name of a band or song that struck you and listen to samples of all their albums and songs. Check out related artists (often mentioned in editorial reviews and the recommendation section) too. Find out what music genre the song or musician(s) you’re interested in fall into, and shop by genre.
Ask interesting people what they listen to. You know that guy on the bus who wears a trenchcoat, eyeliner, and fingerless gloves? Next time you see him bobbing his head to his DiscMan, ask him what he’s listening to. Either he’ll think you’re rude, or, more likely, he’ll be delighted at the chance to share his musical taste with someone who’s actually curious. Instead of asking people how they’re enjoying (or not) the weather, ask them questions like:
Listen to whole albums. Oftentimes an artist or group puts out one or two singles that engage popular appeal but are uncharacteristic of their work. And quite commonly the jewels of music are buried in albums, far away from radio play. So if a catchy single drew you in don’t be surprised and throw the CD away if the rest of the songs aren’t just like it.
Listen to an album more than once before deciding whether you like it or not. It’s best to listen to an album three times before you make your judgment especially if it’s a genre you don’t normally listen to. For example, if you’re listening to your first heavy metal CD you’ll probably spend the first run furrowing your eyebrows as your ears adjust. By the second run, you might start to feel your toes tap, and a little bit of headbanging coming on. And by the third time around you could very well be singing along and listening carefully to the lyrics. You don’t necessarily have to listen to an album three times in a row–just make sure you’ve given it the full benefit of the doubt before you toss it.
Go underground. Find out who the local bands are and where they play. Visit venues that feature independent artists. If you live near a major city find out where you can listen to great music live and go there. Even if it’s a group or performer you’ve never heard of, and/or a type of music you don’t normally like, sometimes listening to music live can make a believer out of you and change your listening perspective.
Take a class in music theory. You can better appreciate music by understanding how it works. Music has many layers that are difficult to recognise and enjoy without knowing what the difference is between music and noise. In other words, listening to music without understanding music theory is like being into cars without having any idea what’s under the hood.
Learn to play an instrument. What better way to further your appreciation for musical artists and the work they create than by learning to create it yourself? Cover your favourite songs. If you’re drawn to certain songs and genres because of the emotion it stirs in you chances are that emotion will be amplified if you genuinely try to play that music yourself. And who knows? You might discover your inner musician and start creating music of your own.
Go to the library. The library is a wonderful repository of wealth. Think of it like this: what’s theirs is yours! Besides all the books their libraries also stock music too. All kinds of music: rap, country and western (both the modern and the old), blues, classical, opera, world music, reggae, techno, trance disco, etc. Whatever your library doesn’t have, they can order from other libraries.
Connect the dots. Or, in this case, the artists. Identify a few artists you consistently enjoy then find their collaborations. Next, find compilations that include them and listen to the other artists on that album. On that same note identify soundtracks that have featured their music and you’re likely to find similar musical stylings.
People will probably look at you funny as you explore music that spans beyond the kind of music someone like you is “supposed” to listen to. Have fun shattering your stereotype and put the volume up when someone raises an eyebrow.
Now popular in many countries, this Japanese pastime is a recent innovation. Where did it come from and what changes have happened since it first began?
Karaoke bars have become very popular in many countries around the world, as have karaoke restaurants with songs often available in other languages. Nonetheless, the mention of going to one often elicits groans and moans from those involved. Still, once there and with microphone in hand, those who complained the loudest are often the hardest to stop!
The word ‘karaoke’ comes from ‘kara’, empty (as in karate – empty hand) and ‘oke'(short for okesutora), orchestra. Rather than including both vocals and music, karaoke tracks only have the music. The vocals are provided by a live person (not a professional) who holds a microphone and sings while following the words displayed on a screen or in a book.
While most people agree that it started in Kobe, the origins of karaoke are obscure. One story claims that a snack bar owner when a performer failed to appear, put on tapes of music and asked people if they wanted to sing. From such insignificant beginnings, karaoke has spread, not just throughout Japan, but also throughout the world and the term ‘karaoke’, while pronounced differently, has been accepted into common language usage.
From its early origins on tape, karaoke moved into CDs, finally incorporating videos and graphics along with on-screen text prompts for those unsure of the song words. The fad spread into bars and restaurants and, even if the person singing wasn’t very good, they were applauded at the end. Some people would sing lots of songs and some would only sing one but karaoke brought the people at the venue together in a whole new way.
The impact of new technology
The first real revolution with the technology came with the development of home karaoke sets which meant that you could sing at home whenever you wanted. You can buy karaoke tapes with books to try at home even if you don’t have a karaoke set and, one advantage of them is that they often have one side with the music only and one with music and vocals so that you can learn new songs.
Unfortunately, one side problem of the karaoke sets was the noise – as Japanese houses tend to be close together and not well insulated, so the Karaoke Box was developed. Karaoke boxes were initially built from converted freight cars as soundproof places where you could sing really loudly if you wanted to. They soon became popular and were put up wherever there was space in both rural and urban areas. A good place to practice if you felt your singing wasn’t quite up to human consumption!
More than just music
Japanese people not only sing Japanese songs, but also Western songs. Popular songs are those by Elvis and The Beatles although more modern songs are now available. This is not just to sing something different, but without realising it, they are practising their English skills! The same works in reverse with many foreigners studying in Japan able to sing Japanese karaoke songs. It’s a good way of surprising Japanese friends.
If you’ve never tried karaoke, you’re missing out! For 3 and a half minutes of fame, you just pay and choose a song that you like and wait for your choice to come up. Microphone in hand, follow the marking of the text on the screen and you can’t go too far wrong unless you really don’t know the song! You can sing alone or with someone else, or even in a group if you’re really nervous. It’s definitely something everyone should try at least once in their life.
Jon Bon Jovi – John Francis Bongiovi
Bob Dylan – Robert Zimmerman
Tina Turner – Anna Mae Bullock
George Michael – Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou.
Dido – Florian Cloud De Bounevialle Armstrong.
Busta Rhymes – Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr.
Courtney Love – Love Michelle Harrison
Alice Cooper – Vincent Damon Furnier
Weird Al Yankovic – Alfred Matthew Yankovic
Tori Amos – Myra Ellen Amos.
will.i.am – William James Adams Jr.
Fergie – Stacy Ferguson
Sid Vicious – John Simon Ritchie-Beverly.
Cher – Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPiere.
Moby – Richard Melville Hall.
Marilyn Manson – Brian Warner
k. d. lang – Kathryn Dawn Lang
Bono – Paul David Hewson
The Edge – Dave Howell Evans
David Bowie – David Robert Hayward Stenton Jones
Eric Clapton – Eric Patrick Clapp
Boy George – George Alan O’Dowd
Nat King Cole – Nathaniel Adams Coles
Buddy Holly – Charles Hardin Holley
Tom Jones – Thomas Jones Woodward
Ringo Starr – Richard Starkey
Stevie Wonder – Steveland Morris
That’s What Friends Are For – Dionne Warwick and Friends
Say You, Say Me – Lionel Richie
I Miss You – Klymaxx
On My Own – Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald
Broken Wings – Mr. Mister
How Will I Know – Whitney Houston
Party All The Time – Eddie Murphy
Burning Heart – Survivor
Kyrie – Mr. Mister
Addicted To Love – Robert Palmer
Greatest Love Of All – Whitney Houston
Secret Lovers – Atlantic Starr
Friends And Lovers – Gloria Loring & Carl Anderson
Glory Of Love – Peter Cetera
West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys
There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) – Billy Ocean
Alive And Kicking – Simple Minds
Never – Heart
Kiss – Prince and The Revolution
Higher Love – Steve Winwood
Macarena – Los Del Rio
One Sweet Day – Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men
Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
Nobody Knows – Tony Rich Project
Always Be My Baby – Mariah Carey
Give Me One Reason – Tracy Chapman
Tha Crossroads – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
I Love You Always Forever – Donna Lewis
You’re Makin’ Me High/Let It Flow – Toni Braxton
Twisted – Keith Sweat
Hanging By a Moment – Lifehouse
Fallin’ – Alicia Keys
All for You – Janet Jackson
Drops of Jupiter – Train
I’m Real – Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule
If You’re Gone – Matchbox Twenty
Let Me Blow Ya Mind – Eve ft. Gwen Stefani
Thank You – Dido
Again – Lenny Kravitz
Independent Women, Pt. I – Destiny’s Child
Need You Know – Lady Antebellum
Hey, Soul Sister – Train
California Gurls – Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg
Nothin’ On You – B.o.B. feat. Bruno Mars
OMG – Usher feat. Will.i.am
Dynamite – Taio Cruz
Tik Tok – Ke$ha
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
Break Your Heart – Taio Cruz feat. Ludacris
Airplanes – B.o.B. feat. Hayley Williams
Bad Habits – Ed Sheeran
Good 4 U – Olivia Ridrigo
Drivers Licence – Olivia Rodrigo
Save Your Tears – Weeknd
Montero (Call me by your name) – Li’l Nas
Levitating – Dua Lipa
Stay – Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber
Heat Waves – Glass Animals
Blinding Lights – Weeknd
Body – Tion Wayne & Russ Millions