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Singing Filipinos don’t go ‘My Way’

I don’t do karaoke, but I’ve thought I should have some go-to karaoke songs if ever in a position where my singing could save a damsel in distress or my own life. (Preliminary list: Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy With It”, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” and, of course, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.'”)

Now, thanks to The New York Times, I know that if my sing-or-death scenario ever happens in the Philippines, there is one song absolutely to avoid – Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”

According to The 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 story does not say if anyone has been prosecuted for the karaoke-related attacks, unlike a Seattle woman charged in 2007 with hitting a man as he began singing Coldplay’s “Yellow.” But it does point out that karaoke is something of a national pastime on the archipelago, and many karaoke bar owners have simply removed the Sinatra standard from their playlists.

No one is quite sure why “My Way” elicits such a deadly response, but The Times offers an anecdotally-based guess:

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.

Yup, I’ll stick to practicing those Steve Perry high notes.