Whether you know the difference between videoke and karaoke is only important when used in the context of a discussion. “Videoke” actually means video karaoke and is a contrived combination word, used primarily in the Philippines.
The Karaoke Invention
Karaoke was actually invented before the Japanese coined the word and it was invented in the US. AudioSynTrac (a US-based company) offered sing-along tapes and audio equipment in the 1970s. When some Japanese electronics companies saw the products introduced at computer and electronic shows, they copied the concept and then invented the word “karaoke”.
Roberto del Rosario, a Filipino inventor, now holds the patent for the device now commonly known as the “karaoke machine”. Following a court battle with a Japanese company which claimed to have invented the system, del Rosario’s patents were issued in 1983 and 1986. The word “videoke” was coined in the Philippines in the 1990s.
Karaoke Machine Rentals and Specialty Microphones
During holidays and birthdays, the local Filipinos will rent karaoke machines to use at their homes. It isn’t too expensive to do so, but it’s much cheaper in the long run to buy something like one of the “WOW Magic Sing” microphones. They aren’t cheap, but they pay for themselves after a couple of years of not renting the karaoke machines.
The karaoke machines are essentially huge boxes containing a television monitor, audio equipment and a control panel that resembles something you would expect at a video game arcade. The speakers are included, but plugged in separately (due to the size, obviously). There are thousands of songs stored on the included hard drive.
The karaoke microphones look like any other microphones except they also have a control panel of sorts on one side. Open them up and you’ll see places where song cartridges can be plugged in. The standard mikes have a limited number of songs included and the cartridges are a way to extend that number. I bought a “WOW Magic Sing” microphone within two months of arrival in the Philippine in 2006. It has been used hundreds of times since then.
Filipino Karaoke Singing
As I said earlier, karaoke machines (and microphones) are brought out during birthdays and holidays. I don’t have anything against people doing this as I do it myself. There are a couple of things that bother and annoy me though.
Nighttime is for sleeping, not for listening to others practice karaoke. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been kept awake by karaoke machines blaring in the neighborhood at all hours of the night because I lost count a long time ago. I can’t say that thoughtfulness and respect for the sleeping go hand in hand with talent, because it’s not always the case.
The most annoying thing is that there are a lot of people who have absolutely no talent when it comes to singing and karaoke machines can’t help them. Add excessive alcohol use to the mix and it gets even worse. Some people sing so badly that it actually hurts my ears. In fact, the people abusing the alcohol all start sounding alike (horrible) after a few hours of drinking.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of talented singers mixed in with the untalented and I really enjoy listening to them during the daytime. I’ve been told that I have a lot of singing talent, but unfortunately I have to have a few drinks in me myself in order to loosen up enough to enjoy doing it.
Karaoke of the Future
As video equipment and audio equipment gets better and cheaper, more and more people will get into it and more people will actually own the machines instead of renting them. Something like an LCD flat screen TV or monitor will make a karaoke machine smaller and more portable than they are right now.
I don’t know if my poor ears will be able to handle it when karaoke machines get as ubiquitous as regular televisions. Here’s an interesting and related blog post: In the Philippines, We Take Karaoke Seriously
[Originally published in January, 2009. I took my Magic Sing bag with me on vacation to the US in November, 2012 and inadvertently forgot to retrieve when I left in February, 2013. Regardless, I still hear karaoke sessions at parties around the neighborhood (just not at my compound).]