Karaoke Idols

Popular Music and the Performance of Identity

Kevin Brown

Karaoke Idols

Kevin Brown

Distributed for Intellect Ltd

With an Afterword by Philip Auslander
180 pages | 8 color plates | 7 x 9 | © 2015
Paper $36.00 ISBN: 9781783204441 Published November 2015 Not for sale in the United Kingdom or Europe
Most ethnographers don’t achieve what Kevin Brown did while conducting their research: in his two years spent at a karaoke bar near Denver, Colorado, he went from barely able to carry a tune to someone whom other karaoke patrons requested to sing. Along the way, he learned everything you might ever want to know about karaoke and the people who enjoy it.

The result is Karaoke Idols, a close ethnography of life at a karaoke bar that reveals just what we’re doing when we take up the mic—and how we shape our identities, especially in terms of gender, ethnicity, and class, through performances in everyday life. Marrying a comprehensive introduction to the history of public singing and karaoke with a rich analysis of karaoke performers and the community that their shared performances generate, Karaoke Idols is a book for both the casual reader and the scholar, and a fascinating exploration of our urge to perform and the intersection of technology and culture that makes it so seductively easy to do so.


About the Author


1. My Way

2. Turning Japanese

3. Boys Don't Cry

4. Paint It Black

5. Friends in Low Places

6. Sweet Caroline


Afterword: Karaoke as Performance Reactivation
Philip Auslander


Review Quotes
“For the most part overlooked for its lack of authenticity, karaoke is rarely addressed in the scholarly literature.  Brown focuses on the performance practice aspect of karaoke to show ‘how performance acts construct categories of human identity,’ as he writes in his ‘overture’ (introduction).  Looking at karaoke’s history, he addresses karaoke and identity in numerous ways, including participants’ gender and race and their choice of songs. He also discusses his own transformation from participant who shied away from singing in front of an audience to one who accepts requests and performs often. . . . Brown’s volume is marked by clarity of research goals (and approach) and an engaging writing style. This book will be especially valuable to those who are new to performance studies ethnography. . . . Recommended.”
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