The first Sing THE Virtual Competition is successfully held online Saturday, February 12. Nine virtual singers competed in a King of the Hill round format, where they are pitted against each other to know who has the best talent of them all. The three-hour event is viewed by more than 800 people on YouTube.
Mika Mahika, who performed a ballad rendition of the hit Vocaloid song Just Be Friends, is crowned Sing THE Virtual champion. Special awards are also given to Norumaru who stayed in the throne the longest with his original song (T)suki, and to fan favorite Kuri Sutaru who belted out an impressive performance of Konomi Suzuki’s There is a Reason from the movie No Game No Life Zero. On this feature story, we talked to the three winners regarding their talents.
Moving Forward and Growing through Singing
Each of these singers we talked to have their ways of singing. For Norumaru, he prefers to sing alone. Growing up, he learns to write songs as he appreciates local music.
I remember when I was in 6th grade a few years ago, that was my first time singing for a live audience. I remember I sang horribly, and I embarrassed myself on stage. Then after that experience, I was very scared to sing for people. So that I just sang alone in my room like late at night when I was like, when I had nothing to do right practice singing.
I became serious with songwriting and singing when the pandemic started in 2020. I had nothing to do, plus I was very emotional. Some stuff happened and I was like why don’t I just, I don’t know, pass time by writing songs. Plus, I was also very into OPM during that time. That’s why every day I always listen to IV of Spades, Ben and Ben, The Juans, old classics like Rivermaya and Eraserheads.
Yes, I like them, but my favorite is IV of Spades. It’s the one I most listened to, and it’s the one that inspired my music writing. I discovered them through Mundo and I became obsessed with their music until I became a diehard fan.
Singing to help others tread through their pain
Just like Norumaru, Kuri also went on through tough times, but songs helped her. She joined Sing THE Virtual to gain more experience.
First of all, I want to gain experience. That’s the main reason I wanted to join. Three years. I started singing Japanese songs 3 years ago. It’s definitely because of Mafumafu. Mafumafu has that thing that screams all your pain out. It’s that time when I found him, I was having one of the hardest times of my life because of my family problems, and I found Mafu and his songs, and well, he really screamed the pain out of me. I want to be like him, who helps people.
Music as part of one’s life
Mika’s perspective on music may not be different from the other two, but for her, it’s a way of life.
There’s not really a reason for that, it just stuck. I have free time to sing music, I find myself singing. I’m having a hard time; I find myself listening to music and then I find myself singing. I am having a good time, again I listen to music to make it even better, and then I start singing somewhere down the line. It’s a realization of that.
You know, singing in itself just feels good. This feels a certain way, and yeah, it really just came out of nowhere; and I realize, “gosh, I really like to sing,” and I started to listen to myself and started to sing alone. Eventually came this feeling of wanting the other people to hear me sing so now I’m doing stuff like this. Basically, that’s pretty much it.
Choosing Her Song
We asked Kuri about her choice of song for Sing THE Virtual which made the audience turn their heads.
Last month, I watched No Game, No Life Zero again and then when I heard the theme song of it, wow. Wow, I love that song and I started to learn the song and I thought that I really wanted to sing this song, so why not make this song my entry in the competition? I really like the song. So, I want to challenge myself as well. I think it’s a very hard song to sing.
Anxiety and Excitement Building Up
We then asked Mika about joining Sing THE Virtual, and how she mustered up her courage to submit her song.
Yes. It was honestly a relief. I’ve mentioned this previously, but I didn’t watch the stream until my song finished playing. That’s just a testament to how scared I am of hearing myself sing.
When I submitted that recording, I scrolled through it, skimmed through it briefly and just to make sure that the tone’s okay. I can hear myself sing while recording, but then, like after the recording, I only briefly skimmed through it once and I submitted it so I can get through it and have at least had something.
You know, like when I actually submitted, I can’t run away from the contest anywhere, which is something I’ve always tended to do. Yeah, that was the most important thing to me just to get through it. That’s why the responses after are very shocking because I just recorded this with my fingers crossed. That’s pretty much it.
On Stage and Behind the Scenes
We then asked each of the winners of Sing THE Virtual their experiences during the competition. Everyone is on the same page. Norumaru understood that the judges appreciate his original composition.
Very relieved. My anxiety’s gone all of a sudden after my turn. I was very nervous before my turn. I couldn’t stop shaking and then after the song, I was calm. Then, after the judges’ remarks, their comments on my songwriting, my singing, I couldn’t believe what I heard because I thought I was gonna sing live and I just clipped a snippet from my stream. I thought the clip was very scuff, so I was super nervous because of that. I really thought we were gonna sing live, they were going to play the audio clip that we sent. I was very glad they liked my song, I was super happy, and after that I had nothing to fear.
They were really kind. They said they were giving words of encouragement, plus we became friends quickly. While we were in the waiting room, we were exchanging jokes and memes. At first, I was just silent, then I became very comfortable with them. I’m really thankful for the support.
Kuri felt the pressure as well, but her fellow rivals have her back—with memes. She also appreciates the fact that her singing reached the audience.
At first, I was so freaking nervous until the end, I know; but then, after the performance, after you guys played the performance. I was nearly crying at that time because when I saw the comments flooding with so much love, I felt so appreciated and I was so happy that time. I really almost cried at that time.
When we were in the waiting room, I was really nervous. I was shaking and then they started sending memes, and I started to watch it and yeah. It’s like they calmed us participants down. When I got to talk to them, they were so kind. They keep saying calm down, calm down, we’re here for you, like that.
On the other hand, Mika’s reaction will surprise you:
I really appreciate that people, you know, really liked it and stuff; and like they voted, and the judges all had really nice feedback and comments about what they heard. I dislike my own singing so much that it’s very shocking to hear that from other people, because to me, it completely doesn’t sound like that at all, you know.
Mika is also happy with the healthy competition among peers.
Oh my God, they’re really, really supportive, and they’re very kind. Everyone’s very friendly and very sweet. I was mostly quiet at the beginning, ’cause I was really nervous and I was just trying to calm myself down while listening to everyone. Everyone’s casual, chill, really supportive of one another. Nobody was really thinking about “you got to win.” It’s just like any time anyone’s turn is on, everyone would hype that person up. Then when they would come back everyone would be like, “Congrats! Let’s have the next one!” It’s a really healthy, really nice competition.
As Sing THE Virtual’s champion, Mika brings with her a cash prize of 5,000 pesos. Kuri and Norumaru both get 2,500 pesos cash prize.
Thank you for reading up to this point. You can watch the full Sing THE Virtual program on YouTube:
Special thanks to Virtual YouTubers Philippines and the Sing THE Virtual staff for assisting us for this feature story