If there's one pastime that Asians can never escape, it's karaoke. No matter what country in Asia you're in, you'll be able to find a karaoke machine in even the smallest of towns. You'll find all sorts of venues to enjoy it, from private rooms and open bars, to town halls and your grandmother's home.
At karaoke parties you'll find all sorts of people. The Belter. The Screamer. The Theatre Fan. The Secret Diva. And, of course, the One Who Can't Carry a Tune. Regardless of talent level — and trust us, we've partied with some painfully awful singers before — everyone is welcome to grab the mic and sing their hearts out, because that's just how karaoke parties roll. How did karaoke become this wonderful bubble of positivity? We're guessing it has a lot to do with Asian culture in general.
Most Asian countries value harmony with others — and not just the musical kind. For us, "home" is a place where everyone gets along as a cohesive unit, rather than the traditional definition of "building where you keep all your stuff". But the continent that puts the greatest value on togetherness is also the continent where people have the most trouble communicating with each other.
Music transcends language barriers. You can feel emotions with every note, whether or not you understand the lyrics. The words are just random sounds you make to express what you're feeling inside; it doesn't matter what they mean so long as you're singing them. It's why people in Malaysia can grab a mic and rock out to Kpop without knowing a single word of Korean.
At the same time, there's a sense of liberation that comes with performing those songs in front of an audience that genuinely doesn't care if you can sing or not. You're all there with the understanding that not everyone is a pop star in the making; that you're all there just to have fun. You can sing without judgment. You can let loose, and no one will care. You can pretend to live out your dreams of fame and fortune, knowing that everyone else will get their chance, too. Sometimes, you'll get applause even if you know you didn't sound that great.
That, in every sense of the word, creates an incredible sense of harmony in the room, and it's what makes karaoke the perfect Asian pastime. In fact, the only thing that could make it better is if you get money for it — which is exactly what our new show, Crash Karaoke, does.
In Crash Karaoke, two hosts randomly crash a place — like a classroom, a bachelorette party, a sports match, a garage or a restaurant — and invite two volunteers to compete in an impromptu karaoke battle. The winner takes home a cheeky $100 in cold hard cash, and everyone else gets the insanely fun experience of a surprise pop-up karaoke party.
Stream the show's first episode exclusively at mtvasia.com at the Crash Karaoke page, ahead of its MTV Asia premiere on March 19. Feel an urge to sing along with the contestants? Go for it, no matter who else is in the room!
– Marco Sumayao