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#B Busting the Stereotype: Asians Can’t Sing

Posted September 30th, 2008 by kvietgrl · 64 Comments

Define Stereotype: A simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group. –

As we’re trying to simply explain how and why certain stereotypes about Asians exist through lighthearted humor, we are by no means endorsing them. We always try to make clear our mission. To balance the beam and hear the ‘other side” of the argument, Stuff Asian People Like is starting a series called ‘Busting the Stereotype” and we need your participation! Thank you so much for your contribution to last week’s “Busting.” Each week we will list a stereotype about Asians and if you are living proof that it’s not true, please post a comment. If you know someone that’s living proof, refer them to comment.

This week’s stereotype is ‘Asians Can’t Sing.’

1. If you are Asian and can sing, post a comment, and that basically counts as a vote against it. Youtube and imeem files are welcome and will be featured.
2. If you are Asian and can’t sing, post a comment. Youtube and imeem files are welcome and will be featured.
3. Both sides, do you agree with the stereotype that most Asians can’t sing? What are your thoughts and how do you feel about this stereotype?
4. Here are some guidelines to determine if you can or cannot sing: if ever in your life, people have told you enough times you’re good, then that might be a good indication. If people cringe when you want to see, hehe, then you’ll know.

We will then keep a running tab of which stereotypes are ‘busted” the most. Thanks for your continual support of the Stuff Asian People Like Project!

Note: We’re using a new comment box system to prevent spam. This may mean you’ll need to double click into the field boxes to write a comment.

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Tags: Activities · Chinese · Comedy · Customs · Habits · Hobbies · Humor · Japanese · Korean · People

64 responses so far ↓

  • 1 nikki // Sep 30, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Korean mezzo-soprano checking in.

  • 2 Jazzy // Sep 30, 2008 at 7:53 pm

  • 3 Jazzy // Sep 30, 2008 at 7:54 pm

  • 4 blissfulting // Sep 30, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    I’m a junior in high school this year, and I’ve been in choir since I was in the sixth grade. People have told me I’m good, but I’m not amazing by any means. Still, I consider myself to be adequate at singing, so I have to disagree with the stereotype that Asians can’t sing.

    Oh, and the people who say that have OBVIOUSLY never heard Wang Lee Hom…or Cho Kyuhyun…or JJ Lin…or Jane Zhang…the list goes on and on and on…

  • 5 jackie chan // Oct 1, 2008 at 8:07 am

    rofl i cant sing for my life. But no disrepect for those asians that can sing, they’re the ones who are breaking this stereotype

  • 6 Peter // Oct 1, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    wow!!! Jackie Chan@@@!!!!

  • 7 YvesPaul // Oct 4, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Yeah, Jackie Chan, you can’t sing despite your attempts and your albums, but you’re still a big star.

    Of course you can’t generalize Asians and say they can’t sing. The music industry is humongous in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. Someone must be singing rather ok. Plus karaokes are virtual training camps.

    Listen to Faye Wong, A-mei Chang and Jam Hsiao, at least by my standards, they can sing and they sing well.

  • 8 Anonymous // Oct 4, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I can’t sing. Although that doesn’t mean that Asians can’t sing. I believe they only sing best in their own language because, in my opinion, Asians (especially the males) sound very weird singing in English. Not saying they wouldn’t sound good though, but whites and even blacks sound much better and seem more proper when they sing in English.

  • 9 crayoncauldron // Oct 5, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    amazing undiscovered Asian Youtube singer/songwriter:

  • 10 Kvietgrl // Oct 6, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    the votes are neck-to-neck! =) continue voting, this poll will be open indefinitely.

    thanks for all the videos, we’ll have to think of posts featuring all of these amazing artists.

  • 11 Virginia // Oct 7, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Uhmm. I’ve been singing since I was in 2nd grade, and it’s practically my passion.
    And I’m asian. But I was born in US. And I’ve been in so many musicals, plays, and choirs.

    That’s weird how you can’t sing because of a RACE. What because you’re asian, you’re body has something that blocks you from singing good?

  • 12 And...? // Oct 11, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Now where did that stereotype came from?I’ve never heard of that. I’m an Asian American vocalist and not trying to sound conceited or anything,but I’ve been told that I had amazing techniques skills and vocal tone.I’ve won many contests,and I’ve been in numbers of musicals and plays.What makes people think that a whole group of people can’t sing because of the amount of melanin in their skin?It’s like saying that Caucasians can’t sing because Miley Cyrus can’t(btw,I’ve got nothing against Caucasians.I know that there are lots of amazing Caucasian vocalists like Celine Dion out there,so don’t be thinking that I’m a racist.)
    Check out Priscilla Ahn,Faye Wong,Lee Hom,and probably Park Hyoshin(Korean.)Or even Cho Sumi.Asians can’t…what?
    @blissfulting:I agree with most of what you’ve said,but not on that Cho Kyuhyun part.That teen idol can’t sing for his life.

  • 13 Mae // Oct 14, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Don’t count out Filipinos. I will confidently state that Filipino singers definitely topple other Asian singers. Just search artists like Sarah Geronimo, Lani Misalucha, Eric Santos, etc.

  • 14 Mariafivehundred // Oct 29, 2008 at 2:45 am

    Thanh Bui, amazing AMAZING Viet-Aussie singer from Melbourne, made the top 12 on Aus Idol and even scored a touchdown in one of his performances. Check him out:

  • 15 betty // Nov 13, 2008 at 6:48 am

    i’m asian. i cannot sing.

    but i sing anyway. not at school, but at home because i LIKE to. i’m not flattering myself. i have recorded myself, and…i just can’t sing, end of story.

  • 16 jeff // Nov 16, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    um…well i listen to a ton of asian music and this person will just MELT you away of your stress . Her name is Joanna Wang and she is I think 19 or 20 yrs.
    just one of her many originals

  • 17 Han // Jan 11, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Personally I think that this stereo type is a total lie. The only think I think of it is the imagination that made up this stereotype.

    I’m not gonna rant, I’m just gonna make a big long list of great Asian singers:

    Jay Chou
    Ruby Lin
    Yasunori Hayashi
    Bi Rain
    Pham Quynh Anh
    Show Luo
    Wilber Pan Wei Bo
    Rainie Cheng Lin
    Kingone Wang
    Utada Hikaru
    Ayumi Hamasaki
    David Choi
    Kim jong Kook

    I think thats says alot. And I myself ain’t so bad singer, having reached into the Nationals.

  • 18 Yi // Feb 4, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I can sing, I just can’t sing popular songs.
    Was trained for choir and placed first in my state.

  • 19 angelica // Feb 19, 2009 at 2:50 am

    filipinos are asians and are great singers! if i posted all the youtube links you wouldn’t have space in this box

  • 20 Brandy // Apr 3, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Well, here is the truth. The average person can’t sing well. Some Asians can certainly sing, some better than others, but this stereotype has got to go.

    I sing too, and it bothers me that people just assume that I can’t sing because of my ethnicity. I haven’t had much training, but everyone who has heard me sing (at my best) tells me that I can really sing.

    I need improvement, as most do, but thank God I’ve never gotten the comment, “You sound Asian.” BECAUSE of this stereotype, that’s usually an insult. I wish it wasn’t.

    As for Asians from foreign countries or anyone who has an accent, their accent makes it harder to sing in English with the same quality. Their consonants are weaker, so they sing weaker in English. This is a language barrier problem that is sometimes confused with a lack of ability.

    You should check Jessica Sanchez out on youtube. She’s one of the best singers I have EVER heard, not “for an Asian”… FOR ANYONE. Watch & listen to the video and you won’t forget it. She’s only 13.

  • 21 Daniel J. Dick // Apr 10, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    My daughter is half Asian and I think she’s an awesome singer, but then I’m prejudiced. I sang Unchained Melody with an Asian music group in Jakarta for my sister-in-law’s wedding, and the MC was a famous and very respected singer. And who sang the part of Pocahontas? I remember a very beautiful Asian lady singing the part of a mother in the movie of Les Miserables. But, maybe I have such a high opinion of Asian singers because I’m caucasian and am not always exposed to the negative stereotypes Asians encounter. (Actually, I am exposed to them sometimes and tend to become somewhat angry and upset because my wife and so many of my closest loved ones are Asian. I’m also working on learning my second Asian language, so I probably don’t count as a typical Causasian either…oh well…I tried…:-)

  • 22 Daniel J. Dick // Apr 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    This will bust this myth about Asian singers…

  • 23 KC // Apr 10, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I agree with the previous poster that generally, most people can’t sing very well, regardless of race. I’ve been in choirs for more than 20 years and I’m usually selected to sing the big solo, if the part matches my vocal range. Starting in high school, I have clinched “leads” in musicals as well as sung as a soloist in various capacities, from accompanying myself on piano in variety shows (I’m a professional) as well as with jazz quartets, etc. etc. Brag brag brag.

    As for others… In my circle of acquaintances, I know of three others like myself: “female Asian lawyers who also sing professionally. ” I know of other Asians who sing well who aren’t lawyers too, don’t get me started… !!!

    Every race has its share of good singers and bad singers. No one race has a monopoly on poor singing, and for the record, I have never heard of this myth before today.

  • 24 Wanda // Apr 21, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    I don’t think singing well has anything to do with race or ethnicity. Some people are just naturally better able to sing than others. Some of my favorite singers are Asian: Hwan Hee from Fly to the Sky (Korea), Jacky Cheung (Hong Kong), Leehom Wang (Taiwan, but his first language is English), Huang Pin Yuan (China), just to name a few. What I love are great voices, in any language, and I don’t think a great voice has anything to do with ethnicity. It all comes down to the vocal chords, pitch and timbre and how those things combine to make the varied and often beautiful sounds of the human voice.

  • 25 LaughlinNVcasinos // Apr 28, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I agree!

  • 26 Nero // May 4, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Although people don’t like stereotypes, I do believe there is truth in the statement that overal asians are worse singers than white people. I also believe that the average black person sings better than the average white person. Why? Well, it’s just a matter of racial evolution. Certain races are just better at some things than other races, because they have adopted themself to their living enviroment in thousands of years. Although evolution didn’t cause the average black person to be better at sports (compared to other races with the same amount of training), it is highly possible that they are better at sports because in their living enviroment endurance and psysical strength were more important than they were in europe and asia. So their race developted more in that direction, while the average asian person is smarter than the average black or white (this has all been proven).

    The same thing goes for men and women. Did you know that about 5 times more women can sing than men? If you watch shows like idols, x-factor and such you will notice that in the end they always have way more good female singers to choose from than male singers.

    Also every good side, has a bad side. If you’re very calm, you’re likely to get mad less easily( which is a good thing) , but you will problably more likely to be overwalked by others.

  • 27 Nero // May 4, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    But now you might say: ” But it’s not likely that evolution choose good singers”

    I totally agree. I do believe singing is problably just a side effect of certain other genes that might have nothing to do with singing. It’s like the male hormone testostone. It will both give you more strength, but will also make you less sensistive to be good with words. Those 2 traits don’t seem to be related, but actually are (both causes by the same hormone). I think this is exactly the case with singing. It’s just a side effect of something else.

  • 28 Nero // May 4, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I’ve just been reading all comments and alot of people seem to think that if they can list a group of good asian singers, or if they are asians singers, this is representive for the average of a large group. We’re not talking about individuals. It’s about the AVERAGE. The average male is taller than the average female, but their are TONS of exceptions. It’s not a rule. It’s just an average. I’m white and I know these kind of theories don’t mean ‘

  • 29 Nero // May 4, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I’m white and I know these kind of theories don’t mean that ‘ black people ‘ are better at me or ‘asians are smarter’ or that ‘ i can sing better than an average female’ , simply because i’m not ‘ the average male’ , so I am not representive for the large average group. I am an individual who may or may not be close to the average of my race when it comes to these things

  • 30 VY(Pronounced V) // May 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    WHY are you guys making fun of Asians.Im a 12 year old asian and my WHOLE family can sing better then those oh-i’m-so-talented-and-special white peoples!Yeah iight.Is this website making fun of the asians?I will do something about this if you are,just because i’m 12 doesn’t mean i don’t have power.I got more power then white people.And do you know why we have slanted eyes?its not because we aer born with may get it in your genes if your mom ties their hair up.We have slanted eyes because we tie our hair up in dif styles and we tie em tight.Unlike you white-azz peoplesur hair loose to look smexxii.I’m sorry to say but white people should stop talking and look at themselves.You guys just feel sad for yourself because you are just PLAIN WHITE.You do EVERYTHING you can to make yourself superior.Spanish people,mexicans,puerto ricans,cubans, look betta than ya”ll.You know why you are jealous of us?it’s because we are the only ones that are unique.Dark,sleek,soft,shiny bkack hair,unlike ya’ll who get perms and try to make your hair look soft.We got posture,we slender and ain’t fat.Smarter straight A’s and more gansta.True,we can’t beat our friend the niggas and we are in line with spanish.One thing we have in common with them is that we hate racist whites.We can sing betta too,so yeah,try and sing ahd hear yourself croak.We are SOMETHING and don’t be jealous that you are not.Oh wait,yes be jealous,cause that’s the only feeling you can get when you see US.We are natural.Not fakies.We are the gift from nature.Numba 1 and always will be.
    No matta whut it is…

  • 31 VY(Pronounced V)(a girl) // May 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Aww look,nero is white,no wonder he hates us Asians!I’m sorry man, but all you gonna feel is envy,jealousy,hatred,and hurt.So say what you want butit ain’t gonna be true and you know it.Bye wigga!
    No matta whit it is…

  • 32 Janice // Jun 7, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    hahahah i’m asian but.. u be the judge

    jani x

  • 33 Jiyan // Jun 12, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Filipino-Chinese Baritone/tenor present.

    Imo, the reason why there aren’t so many Asian singers in America is because we’re more practical and decide to build a career and fanbase in Asia rather than here.

  • 34 Roxzane // Aug 24, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I’m asian and I can sing! I have been in a choir (Soprano) since grade 6 but have been singing since when I was very young, and I still sing. (Note: Not trying to brag ^^) I have been told that I am a great singer, I have been chosen in auditions for a choir, I have done many solos in singing, and have been told to join a traveling choir before. (Though I moved and I couldn’t T.T ” ) I hope that proves it, though I have never heard of this stereotype :P

    ***I am thinking of uploading videos of me singing on YouTube so if I do I will post a link as proof and please rate when I do, I am still not sure if I really sing well ^^ ***

  • 35 Nero // Oct 7, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    i’m far from a I don’t really get why some people take it that way. I meant that overal it ‘seems’ black people are best, then white, and then asians at singing. Just like women are better at singing than men. In most things asians are actually ‘better’ than other races (such as intelligence). I’m also just talking about averages, not invididuals. Some people feel discriminated so easily. I don’t mind if some statistics or averages show that white people on average are less talented than blacks or whites. First of all; it’s just an average number, it does not mean ‘you’ are better or worse at something. It’s like saying that men on average are taller than women. Those things are just averages, but still facts. Look up the book “Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective “. It’s pretty interesting. Alot of biological differences between the 3 main races are measured, and almost at all times the line is either asian-white-black or black-white-asian. Meaning that black and asians are most apart and white mostly the average in between. I think it does make alot of sense if you look at all AVERAGE races’ behaviour. All things have benefits and downsides, so no one is better or worse in the end.

  • 36 mae // Oct 19, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    I’m an alto 1 madrigal singer in our school. So yeah…i think I can sing…=)

  • 37 m.i.m.i. // Nov 4, 2009 at 5:28 pm


    Well, from what I’ve seen, if y’all consider Miley Cyrus to be a singer….

    Then you must have awful ears. Thus, you can’t judge whether or not an Asian (wtf, why is race involved in vocal cords?! lol) sings good or awful.

  • 38 Laura // Nov 22, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    OMG its only cuz asians arent on the western markets tht ppl think they can’t sing- i listen to aWEsome music from taiwan, SOUTH KOREA, and also Japan-(which is lyk the 2nd biggest music industry in the world). srs-want proof asians can sing?? try; South koreas Big Bang (and their solo projects (G-Dragon-breathe, Tae Yang-wedding dress), F.T Island (lee hongki), Lee seunggi, 8Eight, 2NE1, BEG, 2PM-the list goes 4EVA, taiwans JJlin, Wang lee hom; & Japans alice nine, 12012 (yes japan loves visual key)

  • 39 Laura // Nov 22, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    o & thought i’ll add tht lyk at least for south koreans they LEARN japanese to make it in japan n they also tour in malaysia, phillipines, singapore, etc etc n they don’t speak the language-lyk ppl frm all ova asia LOVE thm evn tho they (lyk me:p) can’t understand korean

  • 40 Serena // Dec 7, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Cathy Nguyen on Youtube is amazing. And Thanh Bui from Australian Idol is also very good.

  • 41 kimberly // Jan 29, 2010 at 3:26 am

    i sing

  • 42 Angela // Feb 14, 2010 at 10:17 am

    It makes you wonder where the hell does these stereotypes come from? Who said Asians can’t sing? I have heard some wonderful strong voices from a lot of Asians and was blown away! It is just as bad as saying African-Americans can dance. I am African-American well, I can dance though,Hehehe. There are some horrible African-American dancers where you couldn’t tell if they were dancing to the words or the beat. So funny!!

  • 43 Jessica // Feb 24, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    hey dont forget bout the koreans were really in the sing business and stuff, we also ASIAN can rap, hiphop, r&b, soul, county (those really good singers) and much more really!!! the only reason why people say we cant sing is because many asians comes from different lands speak it too and many are going to be imgrants(spelled wrong) like my mom shes great singer when it comes to korean sing, but lack in english singer :) so ya yup u cant really call asians bad singers :P

  • 44 erin // May 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Have you guys ever heard of Charice Pempengco? She’s only 16 and can sing Whitney Houston songs.

  • 45 Simon // Jul 21, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I can do just about everything better than most.. i know that sounds conceited… but it’s true

  • 46 Bill // Jul 29, 2010 at 12:12 am

    Check this cover of Carpenters – Super Star

  • 47 Pai // Aug 16, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Huh, I didn’t know about this stereotype before. I guess this must be the reason why my white American friends were so amazed that I could sing! Even not professionally, but still.

  • 48 Pho_is_good // Aug 18, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Hollywood has a funny grip on people’s views….this is why its been like this.
    Us being not able to sing is largely wrong, I guess cause it was the stereotype stuff again

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  • 50 George // Oct 16, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    I think thread like this are good. I have heard many blacks say they think Asians cant sing, but then I show them this, and they are sometimes moved to teard from these beautiful Asian female singers. I was as well. And Im a black male. Some Asians might be racist towards blacks, but the ones I know are wonderful people I am proud to call my friends. Listen to these beautiful Asian voices:

  • 51 George // Oct 16, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    @erin, YES! I have heard her sing on YouTube. Many many Asians can sing. Its just that white America will not allow them to have a chance. I am a black male who loves Asians and all races.

  • 52 Filipina At Home // Dec 5, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Check out Lea Salonga if you haven’t heard of her…

    The Broadway hit Miss Saigon has a sizeable Filipino group in it, up until now.

    Go to a club any where in the world. Chances are, there is a Filipino in the band, if he/or she is not the SINGER.

  • 53 Estar // Dec 6, 2010 at 6:28 am

    i don’t understand why people would say Asians can’t sing… i mean like, isn’t it something everyone can do? sure some of us may sound a bit edgy here and there, but isn’t that the same as every other race???

    don’t be a hater just cause we’re cool ;D

    and yes i do sing, at home, at school, no matter where, i can and will sing and no one can stop me :]

  • 54 thea // Dec 22, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    My older sister can sing – I think that’s a result of being pampered by all of our relatives while I wasn’t even born yet. I can hardly sing. I’m not great by any means, but I’m much better than my mother who is tone-deaf and my younger sibling whose singing is more like breathy speech.

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  • 57 A // May 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Asians can so sing! I can’t, but Park Bom has a really pretty voice

  • 58 joannebiebz // Mar 15, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    This Asian can definitely sing!!!

  • 59 Sr // Apr 9, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    You guys obviously stupid for thinking Asians can’t sing. It shouldnt matter what race we are! Black white Hispanics Asians! It doesn’t matter! Us Asians can sing! You guys haven’t heard of Yesung(Sorry sorry answer) Charice, Cho Kyuhyun(he has no emotion but his voice is still beautiful) Lee Hongki, Davichi, Junsu(JYJ) and many others.

  • 60 Mr. Duby // Apr 18, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Asians can sing VERY well in their own language. It is something about the English language that inhibits them.

  • 61 BubblesLOL // Mar 11, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Have you ever heard Jackie Chan sing?! Or Jason Chen? They are both awesome!

  • 62 Kpopfan // Mar 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I can name so many, but here are a few:

    Kim Taeyeon, leader of a South Korean girl group called SNSD (Girls Generation)
    A couple of English covers:

    Ailee, a rookie solo singer:

    Like I said, these are but a few examples.

  • 63 Tiffany // May 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    many people have told me that i’m an asian pop star, only at 14 yrs old…..i vote against!

  • 64 ilovehorseyrides // Sep 27, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    My dad can’t sing!!! LOL

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