The Philippine’s Deadliest Croon

Bad karaoke can feel like an assault on your senses, but who knew that it can actually lead to assault in the first degree?

This NY Times article reports that so many fights and even homicides have occurred in the Philippines over Sinatra’s beloved karaoke songs (one ditty in particular: “My Way”), that it merits its own crime category: ” My Way Killings”.

Croon at your own risk

Photo by Jes Aenar for the NYT

The story attributes this phenomena to several possibilities:  “a natural byproduct of the country’s culture of violence, drinking and machismo” (this passes for journalism?!), to the lyrics of the song itself, to Filipinos’ “lower tolerance for bad singing” and violations of karaoke etiquette.

And karaoke-induced violence is not limited to the Philippines — there are recorded cases in Malaysia, Thailand, and Seattle, where a woman criticized and then punched a man for singing Coldplay’s “Yellow” (I swear it wasn’t me, I only throw dem ‘bows if someone effs up “Baby Got Back”).

Now I know ya’ll Pilipinas/os take your karaoke very seriously, and I’m sure there’s endless riffs that can be made about magic mics and your Tito’s BBQ last summer etc. etc., which I’ll leave for the comments section. But what’s even more interesting is the way in which they’ve effectively and creatively dealt with the tension — with gay men as karaoke buffers — using humor and neutrality to diffuse potential scuffles. Maybe karaoke joints could also take a pointer on musical harmony from those MJ prison dancers


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