What little karaoke I’ve done, I’ve done in New Jersey, more than a thousand miles from home. (I’m not entirely dim.) It might have been even better to have sung in the Philippines, which is even farther away, provided I didn’t sing “My Way”:
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?
We will pause for a second while you ponder the idea of an “inherently sinister” English lyric penned by Paul Anka.
One voice instructor in Manila explains it this way:
“I did it my way” it’s so arrogant. The lyrics evoke feelings of pride and arrogance in the singer, as if you’re somebody when you’re really nobody. It covers up your failures. That’s why it leads to fights.
And, let’s face it, Sinatra was someone with whom you did not mess. Not that any of us are Sinatra.
Let us not, however, assume that karaoke-related killings are unique to the Philippines:
In the past two years alone, a Malaysian man was fatally stabbed for hogging the microphone at a bar and a Thai man killed eight of his neighbors in a rage after they sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Karaoke-related assaults have also occurred in the United States, including at a Seattle bar where a woman punched a man for singing Coldplay’s “Yellow” after criticizing his version.
There have been times when I wanted to punch Coldplay for singing “Yellow,” but that’s neither here nor there. Nor in New Jersey, for that matter.