Today’s New York Times Metro section runs a piece about the city’s night spots and the hipster embrace of—get this, kids—karaoke. In “‘Sweet Caroline’ Never Seemed So Good: So Uncool That It’s Hip, Karaoke Enjoys a Comeback”, Times readers commuting via the downtown 1/9 trains had the opportunity to learn about this thriving new subculture amongst the city’s ironic set:
“Clearly, given the demographics, this is not the karaoke of crazy drunken uncles who worship Neil Diamond, nor is it the more studied karaoke first pioneered by Japanese businessmen. Instead, it is more akin to the swing-dancing craze of the 90’s – a form of urban group expression that satisfies a longing for community.”
While an instinctive critique of the paper may be expected to run along the lines of, “Why doesn’t this paper cover these phenomena when they’re more relevant, and hire younger, more plugged-in writers and reporters,” it turns out that a better and more applicable critique may be along the lines of, “What the hell happened to their older staff, those people who actually remember what the paper has published in the past?” To wit, observations from “Noticed; Karaoke: Once More, With Irony” in the paper’s Style section (a mere six years earlier, on July 5, 1998), which noted
“a reawakened interest among New York hipsters in the sing-along pastime imported from Japan. …Just when it seemed the loose-tie recreation of the 1980’s had been safely put to rest in church basements and suburban strip-mall bars, karaoke is being revived by young downtown scene-makers, along with so many other retro relics of the Reagan era. They are frequenting new karaoke clubs, as well as infiltrating traditional ones with a largely Asian clientele.”
Well, be it 1998 or 2004, one thing is certain: it must be cool if the Bush twins are doing it.