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Don't Stop Believin': How Karaoke Conquered the World and Changed My Life
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Don't Stop Believin': How Karaoke Conquered the World and Changed My Life

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  152 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
A scintillating social, cultural, and personal history of the worldwide phenomenon of karaoke.
ebook, 232 pages
Published December 9th 2008 by Da Capo Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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Brian Raftery is a karaoke connoisseur. Oh, I know -- if you're not a karaoke aficionado, this may seem to you a little bit like bragging that Colt 45 is your favorite aperitif. But Raftery is so enthusiastic about his hobby, and so effectively conveys its charms, that by the end of this book, you won't be rolling your eyes anymore.

Raftery not only offers a complete history of karaoke, but also a damn near brilliant deconstruction of what makes a good karaoke tune. Among other things, the audie
Sep 19, 2009 Poubelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first got to know Brian Raftery through his marvelous postings on Idolator (well, not him personally, but his writing) and since he left, I've always been happy when I've found his byline in the pages of Spin. So of course I was really excited for this book, and was pleasantly surprised when it exceeded my expectations. It's fun, breezy read that expertly weaves together Raftery's own personal karaoke history with the history and development of karaoke itself. Having never given too much thoug ...more
Mar 30, 2009 Ciara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: karaoke virtuosos, people interested in the history of heavy metal karaoke, KJs
man, i thought i was into karaoke. the author of this book puts me to shame. i do not have a fifty-strong list of songs i will never get tired of singing at karaoke (appendix one). i have merely three: "livin' on a prayer" by bon jovi, "your woman" by white town, & "mother" by danzig. though i'll perform others. those are just my three favorites. i don't have a thirty-song list of tunes i wish to someday find at karaoke (appendix two--though i am perplexed at the number of karaoke joints tha ...more
Dec 26, 2009 Bobby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the lovers, the dreamers and me...
Shelves: 2009
On stealing a friend's song choice and getting to perform Fugazi's "Waiting Room" in stead of him...
When did I become so greedy that I'd actually take another man's karaoke song? If the real Ian MacKaye had been there, he would have shaken his head in disgust. Then he would have lectured me for not working at a Vegan co-op.

The worst thing I can really fault this book for is being too short. Snowed in on Christmas morning, with no cable or internet, I finally had the time and lack of excuse to st
Apr 27, 2009 bruin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
why in fact, yes, colin, i did love it :)

i whipped through this in a day. i *love* karaoke, and i adore that now i have a bit of history/random factoids about the birth of karaoke and its rise through the ages. expect me to pull them out next time i host.

after i finished the book, i turned on my own magic mic and worked through some of the hits that he referenced while lying on the couch. and i'm re-motivated to start hosting a monthly karaoke session at my house and chagrined that i and most f
Jan 13, 2009 bibliogrrl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You would think I was the luckiest and most well-read girl in the world since I work in a used bookstore, right? I have access to ALL THE BOOKS.

Yeah, not so much. For the last 4 months, I have had the attention span of a hamster, and nothing can keep my attention. I ave a to read shelf of wondrous and amazing books, and not no a one has worked.

Until now.

I am a few chapters into this book, and am LOVING IT. It is light, and fluffy, and FUNNY. I mean, KARAOKE. You can't *not* love it.

A full revie
Nov 13, 2013 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For about three or four years, I went to karaoke at least once a week, often twice, and almost always sang. So this book provided an opportunity to remember those nights, and it was a fun, mostly light read. There's a lot of fascinating information about the karaoke industry; those were my favorite parts of the book. The more memoirish sections are fun, too, but the personal storyline ends in a way that doesn't quite hit the mark, although it maybe could have.

I agree with Raftery's idea that a k
Apr 24, 2012 Nichole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really, really enjoyed this book. I feel I have finally found a person who loves to karaoke as much as I do. Who experiences the great joy that can be experienced by people who don't have amazing voices, but love to sing, and who relishes the camaraderie that can erupt during a great night of karaoke. I feel like he has put into words all of the emotions that an excellent evening of karaoke invokes in me. It's not grand fiction, but it is an enjoyable read. If you enjoy karaoke and are even sl ...more
Apr 03, 2016 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming, breezy little book about one man's inexplicable addiction to butchered harmonies and boozing that comprises much of the karaoke subculture. More of an autobiography/memoirs told through bad music. Indispensable to anyone who's grabbed the mic and, under influence of several beers, has belted out a favorite tune.
Jul 07, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, non-fiction
A fun read for anyone who loves pop culture from the 80s and 90s. Raftery does a bit where he discusses the Ghostbusters soundtrack and had me cracking up. My favorite part of this book, though, is the insight into how our music has changed over the last 25 or so we've gone from spectators to active participants (ie American Idol, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and of course karaoke).
I expected it to flow a little better--instead of reading like a story from beginning to end, chapters are
I cannot dislike any book that makes fun of Don Henley's ego and credits Max Martin as part of the reason karaoke took off in the U.S. And yes, I mostly read it because it mentioned Backstreet Boys, and I like to keep up on how others define their sociocultural impact on the world, but I read the whole thing, because it was quick and entertaining and funny.*

There is a good portion of a chapter devoted to those ridiculous karaoke videos from the 80s and early 90s! There is a Paul Rudd singing Bos
I am not really into karaoke (my experience tends to be at family functions with horrible backing tracks accompanying various footage of the Philippines), but do love me some SingStar. Either way, this book intrigued me and I love cultural studies, so I got it.

So great! I really enjoyed the history behind karaoke, how the author was into it, the evolution of the phenomenon and how technology affects it, and, especially, its appeal.

This book seals its four star rating because the author has a go
Dec 13, 2008 Jesse rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Totally breezy, readable karaoke memoir. Entertaining, for sure, in a post-Klosterman way, though a little forced in places. I'll even buy the "Changed My Life" part of the title (Goodreads has it wrong). The chapters on the the karaoke history--its invention in Japan, its migration to the States, its C-list video & audio production--are all wonderful. But I wish Raftery had taken them more seriously, gone deep into all of them, tracked down its first customers, etc., and done some scholarly ...more
Apr 13, 2009 Marjanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in karaoke or modern culture
This was a fun book. I personally don't really have an affinity for karaoke or a desire to perform, but I enjoyed reading the authors experience with karaoke and the brief history. The biggest downside is that it's really based on the author's personal experience and interests. However, he did research in a variety of areas like karaoke with live bands, karaoke videos, and international differences. The author did well at keeping me engaged, especially as this is not a topic I have a huge intere ...more
Oct 01, 2009 Jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Although the writing can be a little overly precious at times as the author attempts to pack one-liners into every page of the text, overall it's a thorough, absurd, hilarious peek into the history, culture, and evolution of karaoke.

As a seasoned karaoke veteran myself, so much of the book rings true for me (particularly his in-depth analysis of what does and does not make a good karaoke song, even if I'd quibble on a couple of counts). I'd challenge anybody to put this book down and not want t
Dec 28, 2008 Nette rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oddly, this is the second book I've read this week (after "American Nerd") about people obsessed with a geeky hobby. This one was much more fun, though -- the author is very funny and self-deprecating, and the subject was surprisingly interesting. My only problem was that I only recognized maybe a fifth of the songs he cites, so I couldn't relate to his dedication to certain tunes and bands. Not sure if it's because I'm old(er) or because my personal faves (Tom Waits, Randy Newman, k.d. lang) do ...more
May 31, 2009 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music
A quick and entertaining read about the development of karaoke in America and abroad, from the perspective of a karaoke junkie. I especially enjoyed learning about the production of karaoke backing tracks (mostly made by Sound Choice) and tacky videos. The author asserts that the rise of karaoke is due to the popularization of boy bands starting in the late 90s, American Idol's success, and its inclusion in movies such as Lost In Translation (thus making it cooler). Makes me want to go rent a k- ...more
Feb 13, 2009 Meri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been obsessed with karaoke for the past year or so, and when this book caught my eye at Barnes & Noble, I just had to read it. I was not disappointed. Brian's a fun, hilarious, and sweet author and paints a very loving portrait of his hobby. I was drawn right in, and loved his stories. The history of "empty orchestra" was fascinating too.

I highly suggest you read this book if you want your faith in humanity restored. Karaoke can do that!

And now I feel the urge to go out and sing!!!
I picked this up and read a few chapters in a bookstore years ago and found it entertaining enough to add to my "To Read" list. Took me till now to read the rest of it. Eh. It had some interesting information on the development of karaoke, and its in the genre of 'a writer's tale of exploring some random subculture' that I am such a fan of. But ultimately I just didnt find myself caring very much. Not a bad book just not a memorable one.
May 15, 2010 Carey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-culture, memoir
i may be the ideal audience for this book. like brian raftery, i have a special love for karaoke box, keep mental lists of songs i will never stop singing at karaoke and songs i will never find at karaoke, and am fascinated by those nonsensical karaoke videos. so i can't speak to how this book holds up for people who are *not* karaoke nerds, but to my fellow karaoke nerds, i recommend it highly.
Chris Estey
Jan 31, 2009 Chris Estey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've never done Karaoke ("empty orchestra") and never thought I ever wanted to learn more about it, and this book has changed both that and made me passionate about something I've avoided for decades. Pretty persuasive, huh? More importantly, truly shrewd writing with sweet doses of gentle humor. A must read music book.
Jan 02, 2010 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man travels world, does karaoke. Somehow writes a delightful book about it.
+his list of obscure favorites, and how he writes about them
+doing karaoke abroad and the interactions created thereby
+meeting the owner of the first american karaoke bar
+meeting the inventor of the first karaoke machine.
Jan 05, 2009 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Even if you never feel compelled to pick up the microphone and sing to a room full of strangers (or your friends), this book will draw you in and give you a glimpse of the people and culture that drive karaoke today. (more)
Feb 11, 2009 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A really enjoyable read; the perfect blend of memoir and cultural history.

"With the exception of live music itself, karaoke may be the most direct form of music appreciation that exists" (p. 75)

Which is not to say that I'll be getting up on stage any time soon.
Fun book to read however i didn't know a lot of the songs he was talking about. Read was also longer then it should have been because it didn't hold my attention. However Brian is a good writer who made me want to call my girlfriend and go sing karaoke.
Dec 11, 2013 Clare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don’t Stop Believin’ is half a history of karaoke and half a memoir about Raftery’s own experiences with karaoke, capturing the moment when a song (or a novel or a movie) becomes yours deftly. A great deal of fun and well worth a read.
Jul 27, 2009 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know that some of my more "serious" music friends have a hard time understanding my love of karaoke. This book explains it all.

A must read for those who love pop culture as it relates to music and of course, fans of karaoke.
Jan 18, 2010 Polly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear god...why did I not write this book first?

I almost want to deduct a star for only giving one mention to The Mint. This injury is remedied by my discovery of the Karaoke World Championships. I now have a new Ultimate Goal in Life.
Anne Ishii
I've read this book three times now. Once to myself. Then out loud to boyfriend. Then again in various states of hungover in bed for a laugh. One of the best pop culture appreciation books, not to mention history of karaoke.
Jan 21, 2010 Brett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love karaoke, and really enjoyed this book. Even if you aren't a fan of karaoke, or just like to watch others do it, the book is a great read by someone who is way more into it than I am.
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