February 9, 2010

FYI: Don't Sing Out of Tune

This urban legend from the Philippines has been pinging around the web recently, Normitsu Onshi from the NYTimes reports:
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, like Mr. Gregorio here in this city in the southernmost Philippines, are practicing self-censorship out of perceived self-preservation.

Karaoke-related killings are not limited 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.

Half a dozen killings in ten years is a slender thread to hang a theory on, but perhaps this story originated in the Philippines itself... which, if so, would be an indication of some soul searching... for what, I'm not entirely sure.

Posted by Dennis at February 9, 2010 9:06 AM

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