Since late summer 2001, "Karate-Pekka" has become a household name among Finnish net dwellers, following the tradition of Petri Nygård, All your base, Hatten är din and so on.

It all started as Erno Paloheimo created a web page featuring mp3s, on which a middle-aged Finn sings classic easy listening hits in a terrible tone deaf style over cheesy music tracks. The guy is clearly not a professional singer, hardly even an amateur one.

What made these horrific - but rather funny - songs become such "hits" was that nobody seemed to know who the guy behind them really was. The "official" story states that an unknown man had booked a studio somewhere in Finland, recorded seven tracks with unknown motives and forgot to erase the master afterwards. Some other person working in the studio then supposedly discovered the recording and made a bootleg CD-R out of it. Soon somebody encoded the monstrosity into mp3s, and the rest is history. A recent update on the page informs us that "Karate-Pekka" was friends with the studio owner and was let to record his stuff free of charge.

Naturally, a lot of critical listeners simply refused to believe the story, which in itself sounds like the stuff urban legends are made of. Furthermore, the songs don't exactly sound like anyone could've made them seriously - more like the material on soundtrack albums for Finnish TV comedy series. On the other hand, who would go to such trouble just to create a joke for a very limited number of Internet users?

The net has seen a lot of speculation about the true identity of Karate-Pekka, where he got the name from etc. A person using the alias "Pok" has publicly claimed that he knows who the incognito superstar in question is: a middle-aged alcoholic from the southern Finland town Viiala, who is friends with the guy's uncle, a local studio-owner. Supposedly Pekka tried to imitate some tile-breaking karate moves he had seen on TV while drunk, got his hand busted up badly and thus earned his nickname. Pok went on to claim he possessed more such recordings, but so far I haven't seen then available anywhere. It is highly likely this is just a bunch of BS, but in my opinion it sounds convincing enough to be mentioned here.

Still, as of now the identity of Karate-Pekka remains a mystery. His popularity (notoriety?) is rising, and I'm not surprised if we'll see a bit about the man on MTV3's evening news some time soon. :)

Is the guy for real? Does he even exist? Is he the new Irwin Goodman? It's up for you to decide.
You can download all the seven tracks made public at ..

It seems like the Karate-Pekka "home page" has now been removed. The mp3s are most likely still floating around the internet, but as a meme K-P was (fortunately) a rather short-lived one. Let's just hope nobody lets the poor bastard into a studio again.