Don’t Stop Believin’ by Brian Raftery
Armed with a keen eye and a terrible singing voice, writer Brian Raftery sets out across the globe, tracing karaoke’s evolution from cult fad to multi-million dollar phenomenon. In Japan, he meets Daisuke Inoue, the godfather of karaoke; in Thailand, he follows a group of Americans hoping to win the Karaoke World Championships; and in New York City, he hangs out backstage with the world’s longest-running heavy-metal karaoke band. Along the way, Raftery chronicles his own time as an obsessive karaoke fan, recalling a life’s worth of noisy relationships and poor song choices, and analyzing the karaoke-bar merits of such artists as Prince, Bob Dylan and Fugazi. Part cultural history, part memoir, Don’t Stop Believin’: How Karaoke Conquered the World and Changed My Life is a hilarious and densely reported look at the liberating effects of a good sing-along.
In his review of Rock of Ages (my favorite movie of the summer, since it was apparently produced solely for my benefit), Nathan Rabin opens by discussing a rare moment at an utterly manufactured event when “Don’t Stop Believin'” is sung and everything goes right. As someone who sings along to songs all the time (acting them out at the same time, usually), the karaoke is strong within me, and Raftery’s efforts seem just the right way to explore that.
Kate X Messner, writing for the Austin Chronicle, enjoyed it, although she found it a little self-indulgent. Jesse Jarnow, writing for SFGate, found it a little thin on details. Glen Boyd, writing for Blog Critics, enjoyed it. Aileen Torres, writing for Paste, applauds Raftery’s efforts exploring karaoke.
Don’t Stop Believin’ was published on December 9th, 2008.