3/27/2011
Perfect score!

I think the only time I sang karaoke was, well... I don't really remember when. I just remember that it's in one of my parents' friend's houses, and I was somehow goaded into singing Westlife's Season in the Sun because I knew the song. That, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to show off to everybody. Hey, I actually know this song, the same way I know all the words to Michael V.'s Sinaktan Mo Ang Puso Ko!

Since then I never wanted to sing karaoke again. It's not that I don't know any of the songs - actually, whenever my relatives take the microphone during family reunions I end up realizing that I know particular songs. It's just that I can't be bothered, the same way I prefer not to swim even if I already took swimming lessons. My cousins sing newer songs - I remember one of my cousins singing All The Small Things during one of those overnight resort activities - but I think the idea of being able to sing, say, Bamboo's Hallelujah on Magic Sing is a little iffy. And I know I'll humiliate myself with older songs, even if I grew up with them.

Thus I'm a little amazed at how fearless people can be when it comes to singing. Oh, you're talking to a Filipino too - and I can attest to the fact that Filipinos love to sing, which explains all those singing competitions. So am I afraid to be humiliated? Kinda - but it's more of me not wanting to be bothered. Besides, I'll only sing karaoke in front of relatives I see around seven times a year. It's not like we live in a literally tight community, where neighbors can hear us belt our hearts out, right?

Then again, you don't need to be in a tight community to be able to hear all those songs. I live in a subdivision with decent-sized lots, but it's no match for the speed of sound. Just last night, a neighbor decided to have a karaoke machine rented, invite some drinking buddies, and start an impromptu concert. The usual complaint goes along the lines of "you sing horribly!" but we've taken a different policy: we won't be bothered if the singing is decent. For the most part it is, and while the neighbors' singing continues way into the night, we can sleep fine. Except, perhaps, for the one time when the singing continued into the next day. Horrible singing.

Actually horrible singing isn't much of a concern for me either. It's what you'd expect during a karaoke session. It's the only time I can feel like (insert name of singer here), so let me! What I'm bothered about is how they go about with the singing. They say My Way is deadly - and, if I remember correctly, they have banned it in some drinking joints for fear of murder - but I believe another song deserves the accolade: Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang.

Now, it's a decent song, written and performed by one of our modern greats, Ogie Alcasid. (Or maybe I'm wrong, but I'm sure I'm right. Correct me?) The song received a new lease on life when Freestyle performed it in one of their concerts with Pops Fernandez. (Again, correct me?) It got played on the radio, got stamped in our heads, and now we're trying to replicate how that performance transformed a lament for love into a call-and-response type of song. To the very last note. Let me attempt to describe it in words.

Bakit ngayon... - Bakit ngayon ka lang - dumating sa buuu... - dumating sa buhay ko? - Pilit binuuu... - Pilit binubuksan - ang saraaaa... - aaaaaang aking puuuuso?

I failed, yes?

What if I say that every karaoke performance of this song has to be between a man and a woman? And it always has been?

My point is - and maybe it's me and my three years of covering American Idol - I can't stand the fact that they have to sing the song the exact way they heard it on the radio. I can hear Simon Cowell complaining. "That was karaoke." Pretty much the same way a drunk neighbor missed the cues to Don't Stop Believin', or a kid decided to sing Alone... by skipping all the words except for "Alone", which she proceeded to melodically scream in the next four minutes.

Then again, that is the point of karaoke. It's not being able to know the words - they flash on the screen - but the fact that you can, more or less, mimic your favorite singer, have an audience with your "adoring fans", and maybe, just maybe, hope that you get a perfect score. Speaking of which, I never knew how they made that work. Does the machine have an electronic approximation of the original, and take note if the singer sings the song exactly as it should sound like, note for note? For someone who can't be bothered by karaoke, well, he sure is bothered.

And your responses...

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