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A Song that Kills People: The True Story of Violence Triggered by Music

The Deadly Consequences of Singing 'My Way

By KamyaPublished about a year ago 4 min read
Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

When you hear the word superstition, what do you think of it? You may immediately imagine a black cat or a ghost without a head.

However, here we'll look at a different kind of superstition - the one that exists in the Philippines regarding the song "My Way" by Frank Sinatra.

By Reprise Records -, Fair use,

Karaoke singing is a beloved pastime in the Philippines, particularly among the impoverished. According to Dr. Vern dela Pena, a musicologist from the University of the Philippines, "By singing aloud, the poor transport themselves out of their often miserable situations.

It's a magical moment that is separate from their ordinary life." This is especially significant considering that almost half of the population lives on less than $2 a day, and a mere five pesos, which equates to approximately 10 cents in US currency, and this is all it takes to enjoy a video game machine or a private room in a karaoke bar.

Despite its popularity, some karaoke machines in Manila have banned the song "My Way" by Frank Sinatra. The fear of singing this song, especially in public, has even been expressed by some Filipinos.

At this point, you may be curious about why this song is so dreaded by the Filipino people.

By Pokman817 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The New York Times reported that from 2000 to 2010, approximately six murders were attributed to individuals singing the song "My Way." The topic gained widespread attention on May 29th, 2007, when a 29-year-old karaoke singer was fatally shot by a security guard at a bar in San Mateo, Rizal.

The security guard had become irritated with the young man's off-key rendition of the song and demanded he stopped singing. When the singer refused, the guard pulled out a 38 caliber pistol and shot him. The frequency of such killings has given rise to urban legends surrounding the song, leaving many Filipinos searching for answers as to why this is happening.

Despite the Philippines being the primary location of these violent incidents involving karaoke, similar events have occurred in other countries, primarily in Southeast Asia. These episodes are referred to as "karaoke rage," where singers are either harassed, attacked, or even killed while performing.

In Thailand in March 2008, a man was taken into custody for murdering eight individuals, including his brother-in-law, due to a quarrel that arose from several karaoke offerings, including repeated performances of John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads".

Later in the year, in December 2008, a man at a coffee shop in Malaysia monopolized the karaoke microphone for so long that other patrons stabbed him to death. In August 2012, a man used a meat cleaver to kill two others in a Chinese karaoke parlor during a fight over the microphone.

An American was fatally stabbed in July 2013 for refusing to stop singing in a karaoke bar in Grabby, Thailand.

In June 2014, a karaoke singer in Seattle, Washington, was attacked and beaten by a woman who wanted him to stop singing Coldplay's "Yellow."

The question that arises is how karaoke can trigger such violent behavior in the first place. There are several possible explanations for this phenomenon.

The Times reported: that violence tends to stem from anger over poor tuneless performances of the song.

A 63-year-old Filipino barber in the town of General Santos named Rodolfo Gregorio told The New York Times, "I used to like 'My Way,' but after all the trouble, I stopped singing it. You can get killed." Furthermore, Gregorio said, "The trouble with 'My Way' is that everyone knows it and everyone has an opinion."

An owner of a singing school in Manila, Butch Albarracin, had his own novel explanation for the violence linked to that song: "The lyrics evoke feelings of pride and arrogance in the singer, as if you're somebody when you are really nobody. It covers up your failures. That's why it leads to fights."

Another possible explanation is the violent nature of the society itself, where karaoke acts as the catalyst for the murders to carry out.

According to Roland B. Tolentino, a pop culture expert at the University of the Philippines, "The Philippines is a very violent society, so karaoke only triggers what already exists here. When certain social rules are broken, this could explain why many karaoke rage incidents occur more frequently in the Philippines compared to other countries."

Rodolfo Gregorio, a 63-year-old barber from General Santos, Philippines, shared with The New York Times that he used to enjoy singing "My Way," but stopped due to the violence associated with it. He revealed that the problem with the song is its popularity and the opinions it evokes from people.

According to Butch Albarracin, the owner of a singing school in Manila, the lyrics of the song can incite a sense of arrogance and pride in the singer, leading to fights and even violence. This could be due to the desire to hide one's failures.

Another possible explanation for the violence associated with karaoke is the violent nature of Philippine society, with karaoke acting as a trigger for existing violence. Roland B. Tolentino, a pop culture expert from the University of the Philippines, believes that "The Philippines is a very violent society, so karaoke only triggers what already exists here. When certain social rules are broken, this could explain why many karaoke rage incidents occur more frequently in the Philippines compared to other countries."

The consumption of alcohol could be a contributing factor to instigating violent behaviors, as exemplified by the recent shooting incident in Thailand where the perpetrator, who shot eight people, including his brother-in-law, stated that everyone was drunk at the time of the incident.

He had previously warned them about their loud karaoke parties and threatened that he would shoot them if they did not stop. He had even explicitly stated that he would return to finish them off if his warning was ignored.

To sum up, if you plan to sing at a karaoke bar, make sure you dress in complete bullet-resistant attire to prevent such incidents from happening to you :)

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About the Creator


We should enjoy every moment fully, fall in love, make the most of our time, and live without regret. We should cherish the fact that there are still many moments in life that we have yet to experience for the last time.

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    KamyaWritten by Kamya

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