Karaoke Singing Can Get You Killed in the Philippines
By Chad Upton
I’m not a great singer, and I know this. Despite that fact, I’ve done karaoke a couple times on vacation.
In some countries, karaoke is comparable to television singing competitions — part of the entertainment is the fact that some people can’t sing. In other countries, karaoke is dead serious.
In the Philippines, they’re known as “My Way Killings” since there are at least six documented incidents of someone being killed for murdering Frank Sinatra’s version of “My Way”. Those are just the documented ones, there are more that are suspected but unconfirmed.
For this reason, singing “My Way” is officially banned in some places and in others it is simply removed from karaoke machines. Of course, there are some bars where it is still available to sing, but few dare try.
Filipinos take pride in their singing and many people know Sinatra’s version of “My Way”. This makes it easy to find fault in someone’s performance. Because karaoke is so ubiquitous in the Philippines and it is often done at bars, violent occurrences are more likely to happen than in other countries. Another theory is the lyrics themselves can make the singer sound arrogant — a potentially offensive quality.
Some blame societal violence and the frequency of the song as a likely coincidence and suggest the underlying reason is poor karaoke etiquette:
- Stage or Microphone Hogging (butchering song after song is sure to get on people’s nerves)
- Criticizing other performers
- Choosing a song a regular singer usually sings
- Singing songs that were already sung
On the other hand, karaoke is much less serious in many countries.
Despite my poor singing, I was actually cheered by the crowd to “sing” again. That said, I think it was my light humor during the instrumental sections that they were really after.
One more thing, karaoke is Japanese for “empty orchestra”.