Karaoke As Art?



Rumour has it that one of the most exciting music scenes in America is happening right now in Portland, Oregon and doesn't feature a single person playing an instrument. Music critic and presenter Katie Puckrik heads out on a karaoke crawl across the city to find out if karaoke really is the centre of cool in Portland.

On the way she meets eminent KJs (karaoke jockeys), in particular John Brophy whose Baby Ketten Karaoke nights are where the serious performers go. He's eradicated the top 100 favourite songs from his list so everyone has to dig deeper to find more challenging material.

Katie embraces it all.

There's 'Stripperaoke', where she finds singing next to a scantily clad, tattooed dancer is surprisingly freeing. At Chopsticks II, she meets a KJ who admits that serious karaoke fans are addicted to performance. At Trio she hits the Latin scene with a big celebration of Cinque de Mayo, where mariachi meets karaoke and becomes 'mariaoke'.

On another night she gets up and sings live with a karaoke band called 'Karaoke from Hell' who've been playing backing tracks for amateur singers for 22 years. At one club she trips over a merry band of puppeteers who've brought their alter egos out for a night of singing and performance. At Baby Ketten Karaoke she meets performers who make a point of never singing the same song twice.

Producer: Mel Harris

A Sparklab production for BBC Radio 4.