Film & TV

Meet Michael David Bodin, the Pinoy who won a Japanese singing competition

Here’s proof that an obsession with J-Pop is worth your while. I Can Sing in Japanese!, a show that’s been running since 2011 in Japan, has opened online auditions to all aspiring singers in Asia, regardless of nationality. the prestigious programme has attracted applicants from all over the world, including Denmark, Spain, and Jamaica amongst other countries.  The show is a platform for aspiring non-Japanese singers to showcase their talents on a national stage, with some of its past participants even going on to make professional debuts.  Incredible singing talent aside, viewers can also expect to be astounded by the impressive sight of non-natives belting out pitch-perfect Japanese tunes.

How exactly do you prepare for something like this? Previous winner, Michael David Bodin from the Philippines, shares his experience with GIST:

How did you come across this program? I have been a big fan of the show for a very long time. It was my dream to be on the show since I started watching it in 2008. I have been in Japan for 10 years now, and a lot of my Japanese friends would always encourage me to join the show.

What preparations did you make for the contest? Who chose the songs? Was it hard to sing in Japanese? I had at least two months to prepare for the show, and I chose the songs myself. I know quite a lot of Japanese songs because I learned kanji (Japanese characters) through songs. At first, it was a little hard to sing in Japanese, but once you get to know the language, everything will come in handy. It is really important to understand the meaning of the song in order to deliver it well to the Japanese audience.

What genres of songs do you like to sing? How many Japanese songs do you know? I can speak Japanese. I like to sing ballads, so I know a lot of popular Japanese ballads. I can`t give an exact number, but I know quite a lot. I fell in love with Japanese songs because the lyrics are really poetic.

What did you find most challenging about the whole experience? I think the most challenging part was choosing the right songs. I had so many songs that I like, but I had to choose only 2 songs. The ones I picked were really popular, so I felt a bit pressured. I had to give my best and wanted to make sure that I gave justice to the songs. My goal was to sing from the heart and make the Japanese people feel that I know the message of the songs.

Michael David Bodin, winner of "I Can Sing in Japanese!"
Michael David Bodin, winner of “I Can Sing in Japanese!”

How intense was the competition? There were 12 contestants in the season I joined. There were blocks – ABCD – and every block had three contestants. The winner of each group and two wild card participants competed in the final round for the title. I was one of the two wild cards and was really lucky to be on in the Top 5. From there, I was declared champion. It was really overwhelming because I did not expect to win, but I think I really gave my best in the final round. I love my finale song entitled Utautai no Ballad (Singer’s Ballad). It was such an emotional song to sing. It was a wonderful experience because we all share the same thing – our love for Japan.

Do you have any tips for aspiring contestants? Always sing from the heart and make sure you know what you are singing. Take time to understand the message of the song. In this way, the judges as well as the audience will feel that you really know the song. Also, always play with your strength.

Would you take up singing as a professional career? Yes, of course. I have always wanted to be a singer, and it would be great if it happens here in Japan. I am currently in an acoustic duo, Last Call, with Steve Sato. We’re an acoustic pop/rock duo based out of Japan. I Can Sing in Japanese! allowed me to pursue my dream.

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Interested parties can submit their application for I Can Sing  Japanese! via

The solicitation is open to all aspiring singers living in Asia, regardless of nationality and age. Applicants must submit their personal details and a link to their video submission of up to five (5) minutes in duration.  Applicants can join as individuals or as a group.  Submissions will close on Jan. 15.

Shortlisted participants will attend an on-ground audition in February next year, from which one winner will be selected by a panel of professional judges to participate in the upcoming season of I Can Sing in Japanese! in Tokyo.  Viewers can look forward to the unique singing program on GEM in 2017.

Audiences in the Philippines can catch I Can Sing in Japanese! and all the latest J-dramas and variety shows on GEM, which will be available on SKYCable Channel 116.

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Watch Last Call:

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