Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Karaoke Menace

Filipinos are now getting worldwide recognition for their vocal prowess. Charice Pempengco got her start after being a guest at Ellen de Generes' show. Jessica Sanchez wowed the audience and got raves for her performance with Jennifer Holliday in American Idol. And now a girl named Zendee Rose, who got noticed for her jaw-dropping performances at a mall, was also a recent guest at Ellen's show where she belted out a Whitney Houston song with no effort at all.

It is true. A lot of Filipinos have great pipes. Proof of this is the number of talent shows that have proliferated on local TV, from noontime variety shows to prime time contests in search of the next big thing. The contestants come from all over, from the smallest barangay in the slum areas, to the remotest barrio of the archipelago. The shows never fail to find someone who blow the audience away with their renditions of pop tunes and standard classics. They don't just warble Bieber either. The song choices include the hard-core stuff from Whitney, Adele, or Aretha, and they nail all the notes.  

Since a lot of these things get posted on Youtube, now other nationalities are getting the impression that every Filipino can sing. But, of course, this is statistically impossible. For every Charice, Jessica, or Aretha, there are dozens of people who think they can sing -- but cannot. What does not get posted on Youtube are amateur videos of people singing off-key on their videoke machines and Magic Sing microphones.

If you are not familiar with what these are, you can count yourself lucky. They are gadgets that enable "the performer" to see the lyrics of hundreds of songs against the background of images, usually of a bikini-clad Caucasian girl. The microphone is connected to a speaker, so everyone at the party -- and beyond -- can hear drunken revelers sing Frank Sinatra's My Way or Bon Jovi's Bed of Roses. But since Filipinos love to party, there's almost always someone in the neighborhood who is unsuccessfully channeling his inner rockstar or her inner diva, up to the wee hours of the night.  And they are coming to you live from their living room or garage.

The karaoke/videoke machine is a good entertainment tool, actually. It is fun to sing with friends and family --if you are in a soundproof room, such as those found in upscale KTV bars such as Red Box videoke in Makati. But, of course, in the bigger part of the Metro, where the houses are all crowded together, chances are the people down the street can hear somebody's attempts to be the next Singing Sensation.

Woe to you if you are trying to get a good night's sleep, or studying for exams. What's worse is that there is no law against noise pollution in this country, so you just have to grin and bear it -- or search the internet for a rocket launcher on sale.


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