Sidewalk Karaoke: Simple, yet so awesome

By Siena Yates

Sidewalk Karaoke on Maori TV.
Sidewalk Karaoke on Maori TV.

Forget Carpool Karaoke, New Zealand has its own show and it's for the people - not just celebrities.

Sidewalk Karaoke is Maori TV's new anti-talent show, designed to give the average Kiwi their 15 minutes in the limelight and a chance to make an easy $1000.

The show was brought in by the network to replace Homai Te Pakipaki, which finished last year on account of "budget cuts" and the tightening of purse strings.

Sidewalk Karaoke on Maori TV.
Sidewalk Karaoke on Maori TV.

Sidewalk Karaoke is the low-budget, low-fi answer to those cuts.

It's a simple set-up: a karaoke machine, an app which rates your performance, some lights, cameras and some action.

A small crew takes to the streets (and night markets) of Auckland, sets up the karaoke machine and passers-by pick songs from a lineup including hits by everyone from Prince to Beyonce.

In round one the singer picks a song and plays for $100. They have to score above 70 on the specially made app, which judges based on speed, pitch and tone.

If they score high enough, they move on to round two, in which the producers pick a song and singers have to score 80 or higher to either double their money or lose it all.

Finally, round three puts $1000 up for grabs, and you still only have to score 80.

The catch? You have to get someone to sing the song with you.

It's a simple format, but one which has garnered global attention.

Sidewalk Karaoke on Maori TV.
Sidewalk Karaoke on Maori TV.

Producer and show creator Bailey Mackey says interest in the format has been growing steadily and he's now negotiating deals with "potentially up to 33 countries".

And though he's keeping tight-lipped about the specifics, Mackey says the implications of the show's success are huge, not only opening the door for international shows to be produced here in New Zealand, but for more Maori to pick up work internationally.

"I think the fun is, you know, karaoke is one of those elements of life that is a lot of people's guilty pleasure. I think there's a little bit of a singer in all of us and there's nothing better than when you're at a karaoke bar and someone completely nails a song," he says.

"There's that mixture of envy and, I guess, hope that when it's your turn you'll do just as well."

And those watching at home will get their chance to find out, as the show's app will be available so viewers can play along at home.

Sidewalk karaoke on Maori TV.
Sidewalk karaoke on Maori TV.

Former Homai Te Pakipaki great Te Hamau Nikora is the show's host and sideline cheerleader for the contestants, and says even with the world's eyes on Sidewalk Karaoke, it's still a Kiwi show with a lot of heart.

"I'm sure now [international producers] will be watching what we're doing, and get to see my style I guess.

"And then hopefully I'll get to make that movie with Eddie Murphy that I've always wanted to make," he laughs.

"The show is really, really slick. It's homely, it's family, but it's entertaining and competitive at the same time. For me, it's like Homai Te Pakipaki but a step up and a step out, and a bit more accessible."

Tune in

When: 8.30pm, tonight
Where: Maori TV
What: Homai Te Pakipaki hits the pavement

- TimeOut

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