Closet Carusos

Japan reinvents the sing-along

Music lovers who cannot stand the sound of silence carry their tunes with them on portable cassette players. Now frustrated singers in Japan are turning to a far more elaborate audio apparatus. Known as karaoke, or empty orchestra, sets, they give users the feeling of being accompanied in song by their very own back-up band. First popular in small bars, karaoke sets quickly spread to the home. In 1982 sales of home units zoomed to $625 million, more than was spent in the U.S. on, for example, gas ranges.


Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!