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Lost in Translation – III

May 11, 2010

This post is part of the Lost in Translation (LiT) series.  A light-hearted narrative of random first-impressions and encounters in a new culture.

詠. yǒng. sing.

Sometime in March 2009.

So the other night some students invited me out with them.  They said we were going to a KTV Karaoke bar (which is more popular than American Idol in America).  As a matter of fact, you become the idol.  I am not a big Karaoke person at all, and I’ve only done it once at night in northern Thailand with a family that asked me to sing happy birthday in English.  Then afterwards they put on some love song that they all knew and I had never heard and forced me to stay up there singing with birthday cake on my face.  I didn’t think it could get much worse than that.  And it really didn’t, but I was totally shocked at what I experienced.  It was like I walked into a scene that was used in the movie The Fifth Element.  I felt like I was in the year 2079.  It was a crisp white everything and there were separate rooms for every party that was sealed off with a soundproof door. So inside you could peak in through the glass door to see the parties singing, eating and sitting on nice couches around a table watching a flat screen television playing karaoke music videos.  I wish my words could do justice to what I saw on the screen, but they will never–all the asian songs had to be about either love, heartbreak, young romance or a complete satire.  I was in a group of five people, three which I knew.  I sat in the background for a while just soaking it all in chowing hard on the free buffet food which I went back at least five times for.  It was indeed amusing, and some of the girls in my party had great voices–then the moment came.  There was no way I could compete, but as a guest it was only polite (recall chivalry).  So I went through some of the English songs, which I was told there were “many”.  I went through my choices–Matchbox Twenty, Whitney Houston and The Beatles.  I went Beatles.  It was great, and as I butchered “Revolution” on a full buffet stomach in the year 2079 the only music video they had for this performance was a live 1960’s concert with a long-haired John Lennon in the background.

“….But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know know it’s gonna be alright”

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