Sunday, December 5, 2010

Videoke (Video & Karaoke) Kings and Queens

Videoke kings and queens

videoke_2Filipinos are passionate about singing. Perhaps this is why singing contests have become a fixture in town fiestas, mall shows and   TV programs.  Many Filipinos enjoy singing so much that it has become the No. 1 form of entertainment in most parties, programs and gatherings.
The birth of the videoke has given many Pinoys an opportunity to belt their heart (ang lungs) out.   A lot of Pinoys are shy and soft-spoken but are somehow irresistibly drawn to the videoke.   More often than not, a Pinoy sets  aside his shyness the moment he clutches the microphone and sees the lyrics of a favorite song flashed on the TV or videoke monitor.

Karaoke to videoke
Karaoke is actually a fusion of two Japanese words. "Kara" is derived from the Japanese word “Karappo” which means empty. "Oke," on the other hand, is short for “Okesutura” which means orchestra.  Thus,karaoke actually means "empty orchestra.”
Based on my research, the karaoke can be traced as far back as 30 years ago in the city of Kobe, one of the three biggest cities in Kansai, Japan.  However, others claim that the concept existed long before that.  An article I read mentioned that in the 1970s, a US-based company called AudioSynTrac distributed sing-along tapes and audio equipment.  The attention of several Japanese electronics companies was caught when the products were featured at computer and electronic shows. The Japanese copied theconcept and developed what we call now the karaoke.  For the first 20 years, the karaoke machine was solely available in Japan. It gradually entered the larger market and in no time, the karaoke become a worldwide hit.
Until today, there seems to be no definitive answer to the question “Who invented the first karaoke machine?”  I came across an article naming Daisuke Inoue, a Japanese national as its inventor.   Ironically, this man can neither sing nor read music.  He was able to build 11 prototype machines, outfitted with amplifiers and background music. His crucial mistake was not being able to patent them before their release. On the other hand, another  source states that a Filipino inventor named Roberto del Rosario now holds the patent for the karaoke machine following a court battle with a Japanese company claiming the rights to the same system. Del Rosario’s patents were given in 1983 and 1986.
The word videoke was said to have been coined in the Philippines in the 1990s. Videoke is a modern adaptation of the karaoke because of the incorporation of video and music.  On the video, the music clearly plays on the background while the videoke singer sings along, following the lyrics displayed on the monitor. The singer can easily follow the lyrics as he or she is guided by a moving cursor and changing text colors.
Videoke is a huge favorite  as a form of entertainment in many Philippine celebrations and even during ordinary days.  You don’t have to be a professional singer to be able to sing using the videoke.  Whether in tune or off key, majority of Pinoys never get tired of singing via videoke.
The fun thing about the videoke is the score it gives the singer after rendering a song. The highest score one can get is 100. Sometimes, family and friends use the scoring system to good-naturedly compete with one another.  Based on personal observation, a good singing voice is not necessary to get a high score. Timing is what is essential.  As long as you sing on cue (following the moving cursor or changing text colors) then you can expect a good score.
videokeWanna-be entrepreneurs capitalized on the popularity of the videoke by renting out portable videoke machines to private parties and small establishments.  Restaurants and stores locate thevideoke machine where customers can drop coins (usually five pesos), after which they can  choose a song from a list with a corresponding number code, which they then press on the machine for the music to begin playing.  For private parties, the machine is rented out for a fixed rate for a certain number of hours.
It has become so famous that videoke bars, also known as KTV (karaoke TV) bars, quickly mushroomed around the country. Many videoke bars also serve food and drinks.  Most offer individual air-conditioned rooms with comfortable sofas and tables for small groups of people at an hourly charge. Each room is equipped with a TV, set of microphones and a list of songs to choose from. Customers can order food and drinks and spend the night singing to their hearts content.
I’ve been to a KTV bar and it was really a fun experience. I enjoyed watching my friends sing but I must confess that I did not sing a single song no matter how hard my friends coaxed me to. Hypothetically speaking, if 90% of Filipinos love videoke singing, I must say I belong to the 10% who don’t.  Not that I don’t like to sing. I do. I like singing when no one else is around but I don’t have the guts to impose my off-key singing on a crowd.  Honestly,  I can barely sing “Happy Birthday” in tune, let alone a full song.
Magic mic
Technology has its way of improving almost everything around us.  Television, computers, and mobile phones, for example,  have gone through amazing changes. Previously bulky and hefty, they are now available in compact and lightweight versions.
The first change is from karaoke to videoke. More recently, the big and bulky videoke machine has been revolutionized to one single microphone, also known as the "karaoke magic mic.” Imagine a single microphone equipped with a microchip loaded with 800 or more songs! Newer versions with bigger memory can carry thousands of songs. It is wireless and compact and hence  handier, more versatile,  and more convenient for users.
According to a  feature on , the videoke is more than a form of entertainment; it is an  effective stress-buster as well.  Dr. June Pagaduan-Lopez, a mental health expert, asserts that Filipinos use their love for music, particularly videoke-singingas a way to combat stress.  I agree with her.
I personally know some people who like to drown their worries and sorrows by going to videoke bars. They say that singing gives them a breather from what is troubling them.  A friend once told me that belting out songs helps her release pent-up emotions.  Former colleagues swear that  videoke singing somehow rids their insides of tension accumulated at the office.


  1. Very interesting, well-organized blog to which I want to go back there and back.

    Best wishes

  2. You can preset the volume of Alex your media file (0-100) to avoid uneven sound outputs during media playbacks.