Tropical Renditions: Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America
The Serious Work of Karaoke
In journalistic accounts, the Filipino singing voice has been figured as unthinking yet brilliant in its reproduction of U.S. popular songs, a sad attempt to move closer to American-ness and modernity. These characteristics have been naturalized through the historical fact of Filipino overseas performing artists and transformed into cultural givens of Filipino and Filipino American music-making as derivative. This chapter disobediently begins from the point of view of Filipino mimicry as musical labor in order to demonstrate how karaoke—as practice, object, and event—is able to produce new meanings for visual artists, everyday people, and child star performers such as Charice Pempengco.