Karaoke in the Philippines
British singer Sam Smith was blown away by a Filipino boy caught on video belting to his hit “Too Good at Goodbyes” on a karaoke machine. The singer turned out to be Carl Malone Montecido, a blind boy from Bacolod City. The video was first posted to Facebook, shared by Sam Smith and other celebrities, including Nicole Scherzinger and Niall Horan and has since garnered over three million views.
But it isn’t that surprising, considering the art of vocal mimicry is a national pastime in the Philippines.
It is an understatement to say that Filipinos love karaoke. Almost every Filipino home has a karaoke machine or a Magic Sing microphone (a digital mic that turns your television into a karaoke machine). No birthday or holiday party is complete without karaoke. And scores of bars and restaurants offer karaoke or videoke (a more competitive version that scores singers and records their performances).
WHO IS THIS KID!!!!!? YOU ARE OUT OF THIS UNIVERSE WHOEVER YOU ARE ❤️ pic.twitter.com/4zHfaXVSw0— Sam Smith (@samsmith) February 8, 2020
When it comes to karaoke bars in the Philippines, there’s a wide spectrum. There are wholesome “family KTV’s” (KTV standing for Karaoke Television) which cater to all ages, serve food and have private rooms where you can sing with your friends. Then there are regular karaoke bars – laid back places to have a few drinks before embarrassing yourself publicly — that have karaoke machines or a live band to back up your vocals. A jeepney is viral over social media because of a passenger’s extra experience with the in-house karaoke machine it offers!
Karaoke’s popularity also extends past city centres. When I went on a remote island-hopping tour in Palawan, I found a village on a tiny island off Linapacan island would have a profound love for karaoke too. Even though the region was plagued by frequent brownouts, the family living in the bahay kubo (bamboo hut) had a karaoke machine.
In 1971, Japanese musician Daisuke Inoue may have built the world’s first karaoke machine, the Juke-8. But it is Filipino inventor Roberto del Rosario who holds the machine’s patent. He developed the Karaoke Sing-Along System.
Since then, singing has become a central part of (pop) culture in the Philippines. Singing is the focus of several TV shows, and literally everyone, from your Grab driver to even Filipino celebrities like boxer Manny Pacquiao enjoy singing publicly. On the American late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live, for instance, Manny created a viral hit when he performed a duet of John Lennon’s Imagine with actor Will Ferrell.
Sadly, this fun pursuit also has some dark history. At least half a dozen people have been murdered after singing Frank Sinatra’s My Way in the past decade. The “My Way Killings” were reported on internationally and have caused many karaoke bars to ban the song altogether. Did emotions run high because someone sang out of tune?
For the large part, however, karaoke is a family-friendly activity throughout the Philippines. Perhaps the best way to enjoy this tradition is in a Filipino home, but if you don’t know any locals yet, we invite you to Be-deoke: a throwback thirstday karaoke night at Pineapple Lab in the heart of Makati’s Poblacion.
Whether you’re the type who like to belt out show tunes or croon the best ‘80s to ‘00s songs, come join the quintessential Filipino pastime!
Click on our Facebook invite below for details or get the free iOS or Android Be app using download buttons below or using this link now: http://bit.ly/YourPlanBe
This event is brought to you by the Be app, your neighborhood and events guide, in partnership with Fringe Manila.