Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - It’s coming home: Karaoke World Championships rocked Japan’s Tokyo

It’s coming home: Karaoke World Championships rocked Japan’s Tokyo

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Meagen Reyes of the Philippines sings during the Karaoke World Championships in Tokyo. AFP

It’s coming home: Karaoke World Championships rocked Japan’s Tokyo

In a figure-hugging sparkly dress, Val Monique tore around the stage, whipping up the crowd as she channeled her inner Tina Turner and belts out Proud Mary.

Monique is Panama’s representative in the Karaoke World Championships, one of 40 amateur warblers selected from 30,000 entrants for the competition, which was held this year for the first time in its spiritual home of Japan.

Accountants, teachers and economists from as far afield as the Faroe Islands, Guatemala and Brazil battled for the prestigious title of the world’s best karaoke singer in the competition run since 2003.

And like everyone around the world who has ever grabbed the mic, for a brief time under the spotlight, the contestants found their 15 minutes of fame.

“Karaoke can make everyone feel for one moment like a professional. Only karaoke can give you those few minutes of glory on the stage,” said Vladyslav Karasevych, contestant from Ukraine.

‘Great legs’

Resplendent in a black and white “Harlequin” outfit and white hat, and proudly waving a Ukrainian flag, Karasevych introduced his compatriots, including a woman dressed like “Hatsune Miku”, a vocaloid character with long blue ponytails and a miniskirt.

“Karaoke makes us happy. He is an economist, I am an accountant, and she is a teacher, and we today stand on the stage like professionals, like stars,” he said.

Among the karaoke classics featured last Thursday were Spandau Ballet’s Gold (sung by the Finnish entrant), Queen’s The Show Must Go On (Britain’s entry), and You’ll Never Walk Alone – interpreted by the contestant from the Philippines.

The annual Karaoke World Championships were first held in Finland in 2003, the brainchild of a Finnish company.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Val Monique of Panama (left) and Shai Othman of Singapore (right) prepare backstage before performing during the Karaoke World Championships in Tokyo. AFP

The final contestants were selected from some 30,000 applicants across the globe, according to Daiichikosho, a Japanese karaoke company backing the event.

The selection process differs from country to country, but in Japan the company asked wannabe competitors to upload their singing performances at karaoke parlours, said Daiichikosho official Kikumi Onchi.

Around 2,200 people applied just for Japan, considered the home of karaoke – a word that means “empty orchestra” in Japanese – and where the concept was born around 50 years ago.

“We listened to each one of the songs, selected several singers for regional competitions, and picked the final four singers for the world championships,” Onchi said.

One of the lucky Japanese contestants, Yuji Ogata, voiced delight at performing “at home” after he belted out ai no sanka, the Japanese version of the Edith Piaf classic L’hymne a l’amour (hymn to love).

“This time the championships are taking place in Japan, which is exciting as a Japanese person. I myself thought the world championships was a far-fetched dream, but here it is happening in Tokyo, Japan,” Ogata said.

Vladimir Brilov, a contestant from Russia, said he was making the most of his time in Japan, experiencing the unique Japanese karaoke culture – trying out one of the karaoke boxes that allows customers to sing alone.

“I was all alone because I wanted to feel comfortable,” Brilov said.

“I was a superhero for myself and that made me so pleased,” he said.

After the show, Panama’s karaoke queen Monique paid tribute to her inspiration Tina Turner, an “amazing, powerful woman”.

“She is, I don’t know even how many years old, and she is still dancing, still singing. I wanted to have that same energy she has on stage and show off great legs like she shows off, even if she’s 70-80 years old,” she said of Turner, who turned 80 on Tuesday.

“I’m so excited. Being on stage was such a rush but adrenaline just hits you as soon as you are there on the stage. It was amazing,” she said.

“I just wanted to have fun and I think it was worth it.”


  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon