Everybody’s doing the Karaoke thing!
September 29, 2007, 9:52 am
Filed under: Funny Stuff

Everybody’s doing the Karaoke thing!

Moeun Chhean Nariddh

 

THE Karaoke craze has swept through Phnom Penh since spring. Many youths, whose minds have been soaked by video games in the last few years, are now flooding into Karaoke shops and paying a few hundred riels to sing their favorite songs.

Enterprising drinks-shop owners, after purchasing a video recorder, Karaoke tapes, a microphone and speakers, have cashed in on the latest fad and are running a thriving in-house business.

Everywhere you can see people thrilled to bits by Karaoke songs and music. Phnom Penh is now able to fill in its usually silent nights.

“Oh! oh! yeh! yeh! Si bai pteas kei, chous arch pteas eng…” a boy shouts. His Khmer improvisation of the English song literally translates to ‘Oh! oh! yeh! yeh! Dining at his house and back to s**t at our home… .’

In fact the singer did not mean to change the original words but his English was too poor to read and say ‘I love you more than I can say.’

He says many Cambodians would love to sing foreign songs together with those of their mother tongue but unfortunately they face the language barrier.

In contrast Var Sara, who speaks fluent Japanese and Thai, says he likes to sing songs in these two languages as well as the Khmer melodies to amuse himself.

Sara, a 24-year-old guide at the Paradise Angkor Wat Tour business, said: “While some people drink alcohol to forget their troubles I just sing songs.”

Apparently, Sara can sing more beautifully than most Karaoke fans – not much worse than professional singers.

He said he owed his singing ability to spending hours each day practicing songs at the top of his voice in the privacy of his home to try to improve his voice.

Sara said: “I know other people who would climb to the top of the [then] broken Cambodian-Japanese friendship bridge to practice in privacy. They would scream noisy rubbish to the birds in the sky and the fish in the river.”

Unluckily, there are some folks who are not very successful at improving their rough voices. These people have expressed much regret for their past acts.

An unsuccessful singer who requested not to be identified lamented: “It would be less shameful to walk naked than shout like a crazy man in vain.”

Enthusiastic Karaoke singer Sam Mao, 25, said: “I would sing all the songs on all the videotapes if only I could catch-up with the scripts which often move too fast.

He added: “Sometimes my friends complain that I sound like I’m crying when I sing and at other times they say I sound like I’m reading aloud.”

Mao explained that the most popular Karaoke shops are those with beautiful lady owners or daughters.

He said: “Besides going to sing, I often go just to see and court the daughters of the owners. Sometimes I have no money but I go to woo.

“The standard price for singing a song in one of the small shops is only a few hundred riels, but in the red light district the fees are much higher because they have girls to accompany you if the song needs both a male and female singer.”

New fans of Karaoke say they find it very uncomfortable to air their voice in public with vicious critics sitting around and saying this and that about them.

A new Karaoke devotee Bi Samrach said: “At the beginning I must be a bit tipsy before I can sing.” Unfortunately, given the traditionally greater shyness of the Khmer ladies, we do not see as many girls as boys at the Karaoke shops.

Owner of the Karaoke house near the Japanese bridge Prak Yary said: “Girls prefer to hide in their houses and sing to themselves. Some girls even feel ashamed of the microphones. They think it is like holding a man’s family jewels.”

Yary, who has been operating the Karaoke service for a month, complained that it is not a lucrative business.

She said: “The money I earn barely makes up for the costs of the electricity and the repayments on the entertainment equipment I bought.

“On average I have about ten customers daily but I often suffer from being cheated.

“Sometimes the more crowded it is and the more singers I have the less money I make because more people cheat [not paying after singing songs].”

Phnom Penh Post, Issue 3/14, July 15 – 28, 1994
© Michael Hayes, 2000. All rights revert to authors and artists on publication.
For permission to publish any part of this publication, contact
Michael Hayes, Editor-in-Chief
http://www.PhnomPenhPost.com – Any comments on the website to
Webmaster

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