The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Office DJ: Songs for a karaoke session

Picture 183.jpg

Assistant Data Editor Anh Nguyen in 2007. Photo Courtesy of Anh Nguyen.

Karaoke is a touchy subject. 

It’s a staple of the Asian household, yet any second-generation kid shudders in fear at the thought of their parents picking up the mic.

I’ve come home too often to my parents belting their favorite ballads, only to cringe in embarrassment as I retreat to my room each time. 

Classics like Cẩm Vân’s "Hà Nội Mùa Này Vắng Những Cơn Mưa" and Lệ Quyên’s "Để Nhớ Một Thời Ta Đã Yêu" always warrant a rendition when they come on shuffle, according to my parents. They loved ballads from the late 90s and early 2000s that made them nostalgic for the Vietnam they grew up in. 

My childhood is made up of the Vietnamese house parties my parents used to drag me to, where they would wear out the staple karaoke machine as I hid with the other kids that were forced to come. We bonded over the sound of our parents screeching "Ước gì" as we ate snacks and played video games in camaraderie. The night would end with my sisters and I begging our parents to go home, bored out of our minds and distressed from the many hours spent listening to tone-deaf performances. 

Looking back, I overreacted.

In the midst of my immaturity I failed to see the sacrifices they made in lieu of the home they once knew; the music of their generation was the only thing that didn’t cost a plane ticket to retrieve.

When my friends would travel across the country to their grandparents for Thanksgiving and Christmas, my family filled the void with long nights of karaoke and "Paris by Night."

As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to acquire a similar perspective on music: that it is a gateway to the memories we want to remember. 

This phenomenon of music-evoked nostalgia is a constant reminder that nothing ever stays the same, yet sometimes it makes me believe that I can turn back time. 

I’ll always be reminded of the last time I saw my childhood friends in Vietnam when I listen to "Em Dạo Này" by Ngọt. "Tóng Huà" by Michael Wong is a go-to when my roommates and I are drunk out of our minds. "Bound 2" is an ode to the weekly road trips I made with my freshman-year friends. And "Out of Time" by The Weeknd will always remind me of my first love. 

Funny enough, I’ve begun to sing in my car as I blast my favorite songs, driven by the same nostalgia-induced dopamine that makes my parents sing their hearts out every day.

I’ve compiled a playlist of what I’ve been listening to recently, some of which are my karaoke go-to’s. As you carry on, I encourage you to sing your heart out in a karaoke session. 


To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Anh Nguyen

Anh Nguyen is the 2023-24 data editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as the DTH's data editor and assistant data editor. Anh is a senior pursuing a double major in statistics and information science.