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A background on the karaoke culture in the Philippines

A background on the karaoke culture in the Philippines

It is a common stereotype, but Filipinos are known to be the “Karaoke Kings and Queens.”

There is a huge karaoke culture in the Philippines that led other countries to associate the activity with Filipinos. And, it speaks to the amount of talent and cultural significance of singing among the Filipino people. We are not just known to be singers, but good singers.

A background on the karaoke culture in the Philippines

It can be considered that karaoke culture births Filipino singers because the “stage” starts at home. Or your neighbor’s home. But within the vicinity of your comfort zone. It is pretty common for local neighborhoods to own a karaoke machine in their house, or maybe rent one when birthdays come up.

Then one way or another your talent for singing gets out there. And suddenly you are singing in front of an audience. May it be a Barangay contest, or just a school performance.

Still, it all starts with a faulty microphone and a karaoke machine that shows a totally different music video that has no connection whatsoever to the song that you are singing.

Celebrating occasions by singing: what song do you sing?

Philippines - Manila North Cemetery | Claudio Sieber
Photo from Claudio Sieber

Birthdays within the local neighborhoods are deemed lame if there is no karaoke available. It is a lot of fun to hear drunk uncles screaming the lyrics of a Parokya ni Edgar song. You might even hear a sobbing rendition of a Moira ballad. Or a club-like vibe with a “Single Ladies” cover.

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Although, it can be said that a lot of people also dread this particular tradition. When you hear that mic test at ten in the morning, rest assured that you will keep hearing Mariah Carey wannabes until midnight. It may be fun to those who are celebrating outside, but the neighbors inside are probably cursing their hearts out because they cannot work or sleep.

Its relevance to the Filipino culture

However tiring it is to deal with karaoke amateurs and pros alike, it is all part of the culture. You either endure it or live it. I mean, you can ask them to cut the party short if it has gotten too late, but they probably won’t. And calling the Barangay Tanod would definitely earn you a “lame neighbor” badge.

Adding to this, the karaoke culture being known worldwide gives an advantage to Filipino singers who venture into international stages. For example, the TNT Boys are often brought up when there is a discourse on karaoke pros because of their own version of Beyonce’s “Listen.”

A lot of foreigners find that song hard, but the little boys proved to them that with the birit culture in the Philippines, Listen is just a warm-up song for someone’s 7th birthday.

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