I Will Always Love You“It would be hard pitching karaoke today, if it didn’t already exist.”

I Will Always Love You“It would be hard pitching karaoke today, if it didn’t already exist.”

  • Words Okechukwu Nzelu
  • Photograph Aaron Tilley
  • Set Design Sandy Suffield

You’d have a hard job pitching karaoke today, if it didn’t already exist. Considered in isolation, the idea of performing in front of other people—especially strangers—is mortifying for most people. It’s like public speaking, but worse: No one will really notice if you make an error in a presentation at work, but they will definitely spot it if you fluff the high notes on “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”

Despite this, karaoke-centered bars, video games and even wedding receptions abound. And there’s James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke for those who prefer their karaoke secondhand (with over three billion views on YouTube, it seems many do).

Strangely enough, lists of the most popular karaoke songs regularly feature tracks that would seem the most intimidating to untrained voc...

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