Monday, April 17, 2023

Karaoke, Anyone?

Filipinos love to sing. A lot of Filipinos can sing. And of those who can, most of those people can sing really well. You can ask any artist who has ever had a concert in the Philippines, most if not all will probably tell you that the crowds sing along to their songs while they perform every single time. So many Filipino singers are recognized for their talent overseas, further proving that this singing culture is something that is natural to the country. There are even memes and viral videos about how singing with Filipinos means having to follow or sing along to someone who sings at concert-level every time. 

Image by wirestock on Freepik

The love for singing is so big that karaoke is a popular thing that Filipinos do to entertain themselves. Sometimes it can just be a simple sing-along over some alcohol and food, but more often than not it can be like a mini-concert in itself with every person singing like they are performing for their life. Then there are, of course, who sing just for the sake of singing, it doesn’t matter if they can carry a tune or not.

Songs that are often heard in a Filipino karaoke session can range from current hits to the cheesiest novelty songs and the most breath-takingly (literally) high belter songs. We talked about some of these iconic karaoke songs that we have heard (and sang) through the years on an episode of the Fandesals podcast (episode embedded at the end of the post). No matter how many Filipinos there are in the country who love to sing, there seems to be a common thread/genre that end up being performed during these things.

Karaoke has evolved so much through the years. There were those karaoke machines back in the 80s that used cassette tapes where you could shift the audio from instrumental to one with a backing vocal to help the singer with the tune. If I remember correctly this was called the minus-one/multiplex. Then years later it just exploded to CDs then karaoke mics that had SD(?) cards with songs in them that you could update when you buy new songs from the manufacturer. Then, of course, there is the karaoke machine that we see a lot in provinces with the huge TV on top of a machine with large speakers. You had to pick your song from a list and at the end of it the machine, as with other karaoke devices, gives you a score based on your “performance.” I never really cared for the score so much though – it seems to give a high score if your voice is loud enough, it doesn’t matter if you are out of tune.

I’ve had my share of karaoke experiences through the years that also included singing in norebang-style places/karaoke bars, which were very popular for a time before the more portable devices came out. These are rooms that you rent to sing karaoke in. I haven’t been to one in a while, I wonder if they are still as popular as they used to be.

These days, most of my singing is done at home, with me armed with a Bluetooth mic that I connect to either my Spotify or YouTube account so that I can sing along to any song I want. I find that for me, singing can be a form of stress-relief and having a round of singing can help to clear my head sometimes. I guess letting all your emotions out when you sing can help do that. Could this love for singing be why Filipinos are considered happy people in general? Because they often de-stress with their love for singing?

The way I see it, the karaoke culture and singing in particular is something that will always be a part of Filipino life. The way we go about it may change with time, but singing will always be a part of it. 

If you want to learn more about some of the songs often heard during a Filipino karaoke session, check out this episode of the Fandesals podcast! You might be surprised by some of the songs that we discussed in it!


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