As bad as it is to stereotype a whole race, there are certain stereotypes that are more rooted in reality than others. Let’s be honest—Koreans do drink alcohol like water, Chinese really will eat anything, the Japanese are all-around freaks and Filipinos love to sing. Seriously, it’s like Filipinos are born with a musical gene. I’ve only met two Filipinos in my life with no musical skills and they were looked upon as if they had the Elephant Man disease. I remember a few years ago when the film Colma: The Musical came out and someone told me it was about a gay Filipino teen who breaks out into song and dance for no reason. I assumed it was a documentary.
A lot of Asians are into karaoke, but I don’t think anyone can top the Filipinos in their passion for it. If you’ve gone out to karaoke, I’m sure you’ve experienced something like this—everyone is singing, drinking and having a good time. Then, a Filipino dude or dudette walks in. The Filipino individual acts all shy and protests when you ask them if they want a turn, but when he or she takes the mike, they have an amazing voice that could give Simon Cowell multiple orgasms and suddenly everyone else is self-conscious about their own “sucky” singing and the evening isn’t as fun anymore. Well, if you think that’s bad, today’s New York Times has a story about how picking the wrong song when you karaoke in the Philippines could get you killed. Yup, killed.
And what is this deadly song? Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”:
According to the New York Times:
The authorities do not know exactly how many people have been killed warbling “My Way” in karaoke bars over the years in the Philippines, or how many fatal fights it has fueled. But the news media have recorded at least half a dozen victims in the past decade and includes them in a subcategory of crime dubbed the “My Way Killings.”
The killings have produced urban legends about the song and left Filipinos groping for answers. Are the killings the natural byproduct of the country’s culture of violence, drinking and machismo? Or is there something inherently sinister in the song?
Whatever the reason, many karaoke bars have removed the song from their playbooks. And the country’s many Sinatra lovers…are practicing self-censorship out of perceived self-preservation.
The article does point out that karaoke-related killings aren’t just limited to the Philippines. For example, an enraged Thai man killed eight of his neighbors after they sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads.” But your chances of getting killed during karaoke are supposedly greater in the Philippines. One possible explanation for this:
…because of the ubiquity of the pastime. Social get-togethers invariably involve karaoke. Stand-alone karaoke machines can be found in the unlikeliest settings, including outdoors in rural areas where men can sometimes be seen singing early in the morning. And Filipinos, who pride themselves on their singing, may have a lower tolerance for bad singers.
Indeed, most of the “My Way” killings have reportedly occurred after the singer sang out of tune, causing other patrons to laugh or jeer.
Wow, Filipinos do take their music seriously. But why “My Way?” A number of theories have been put forth about the possible reasons; from the “macho” lyrical content of the song itself to the fact that it’s just a popular karaoke selection so if violence is going to erupt, it’s more likely to erupt during that song.
But whatever the reason, if you find yourself in a karaoke bar in the Philippines and you know you can just kill with “My Way,” perhaps you should consider another selection or you may not be the one doing the killing. May I suggest “All You Need Is Love?”