Arts, Culture & Media

Sinatra's 'My Way': Deadly karaoke in Philippines

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The album cover from Sinatra's original LP 'My Way'

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Story by Marco Werman, PRI's "The World"

Whatever you think of Frank Sinatra's "My Way," in the Philippines it can get you killed if you sing it karaoke style. The "New York Times" reported on this story over the weekend. 

Karaoke is very popular in the Philippines and people get very passionate about it. Apparently, several Filipinos have been killed over the years because of how they sang their version of "My Way."

According to popular culture specialist Roland Tolentino at the University of the Philippines, the killings are often alcohol-related.

"You'd get a lot of drunk men ... who would get into an argument over another person's singing of "My Way," and some of these things do lead to very violent endings," Tolentino told the BBC.

Another problem, says Tolentino, is that the song emboldens the singers because of its triumph over adversity theme. But in the end, this being karaoke, how you belt out the song matters too.

"It’s also the singing because "My Way," at least in the Philippine context, is like the recap song," he said. "It's the last song of the karaoke activity, so by that time a lot of elderly men are already drunk and probably emboldened, then would go into fierce arguments and probably pick up guns or something."

Butch Albarracin, the owner of Center for Pop, a Manila-based singing school, had a more  "existential explanation" in "The New York Times." 

"'I did it my way' -- it's so arrogant," Albarracin told the paper. "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."

PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston. More "The World.

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