The last time I was in Asia I spent a decent amount of time going to karaoke with friends. When I was in China in 2011, I even had a membership card to one of the karaoke places there. Now I thought I loved karaoke. I always had a good time singing, dancing, and hanging out at karaoke with my friends. China, Vietnam, and South Korea are big karaoke countries and I’ve gone to karaoke in all of those countries. When I went to karaoke with friends it didn’t really matter if you were good at singing or not. Most of us were actually terrible singers but that didn’t really matter. As long as the songs were good, we would all sing along and dance anyways so the mics didn’t really matter.
Karaoke bars in the U.S. are unlike karaoke places in Asia. In the U.S., you sing in front of a crowd of strangers, in Asia, you only sing in front of your friends in your own private karaoke room that you rent by the hour. It’s actually pretty awesome. You get your own room and you can order beer and snacks. Some places let you bring your own food and drink too.
Now people here love karaoke. And when I say love karaoke I mean they LOVE karaoke. Actually, people just love singing in general. It’s not uncommon to be strolling around Tra Vinh hearing people singing along to their own personal karaoke machines. During my first two weeks in Vietnam, I went to karaoke 3 times. And unlike the karaoke outings with my friends, people actually try to sing well. All the karaoke machines here even give you a rating after your song telling you how well you sang. I didn’t realize how much I relied on others to sing with me in order to drown out my own terrible singing before moving here.
Tra Vinh is not a big city with tons to do so karaoke is big here. And when you go out with locals they expect you to choose songs and sing by yourself. And they take it very seriously. You want to sing well when you sing karaoke here. There aren’t many English language songs at the karaoke places in Tra Vinh and on top of that all the songs are quite old which makes singing karaoke even harder.
Regardless, I need to step up my karaoke game. For example, I went to to karaoke the other day for a solid 3 1/2 hours (after a lunch that started at 10 a.m. with vodka shots) and one Vietnamese guy came up to me and commented on how my singing will get better the more I practice and that it was good that I’d be in Vietnam for awhile assuring by the end of my stay here, I would be much better at karaoke. And I thought I was doing so well… I guess I’ll have to practice singing in my room a lot more. Or I’ll have to rent a karaoke room by myself so I can practice.
Here’s to the next karaoke-filled year!