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date: 20 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the relationship between karaoke aesthetics—focused on the copy and re-enactment—and approaches to imitation and mimesis in queer, as well as post-colonial aesthetics. By revisiting histories of the purported invention of the first karaoke machines in the Asia Pacific region, this essay forges connections between the styles of performance engendered by karaoke apparatuses and LGBTQ amateur recreations such as drag, and karaoke’s precursor, the piano bar. Furthermore, viewing queer aesthetics through the lens of karaoke aesthetics makes apparent the very specialized regimes of knowledge in both, which are often regarded as improvisationally based, but are actually contingent upon a particular set of decorums, historically contingent repertoires, and meticulous methods of recreation and practice. Finally, the essay accounts for how constitutive the concept of “repetition” is not only for karaoke, but also queer scholarship focused on performance studies, as well as belle-lettristic literary traditions.

Keywords: karaoke, sound technology, media archaeology, popular music, LGBT nightlife, piano bars, queer theory, Asia Pacific, performance studies

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