Start spreading the news: strangers in the night should NOT be singing "My Way" in karaoke bars in the Philippines.
As far as I'm concerned, newspapers will live on as long as they continue to publish hard-hitting, interesting, informative and cautionary articles like the one in Sunday's New York Times on the "My Way Killings."
Apparently, in karaoke bars in the Philippines, if someone starts warbling, "and now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain," they ain't kidding.
...the [Filipino] 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.”
While no one can fully state the case of which they're certain, there are numerous theories why Old Blue Eyes' signature tune could be listed as the cause of death.
One is the sheer popularity of karaoke in the Philippines, and, within that universe, the sheer popularity of this song. This theory is similar to the Going Postal Theory, which holds that the reason why there are so many on the job killings among postal workers is because there are so many postal workers.
Others attribute the "My Way"-inspired violence to the arrogance of the words. When combined with what might be a slight disconnect between the actual life and circumstances of, say, a Manila office worker, and the Ava Gardner, Rat Pack, Mafia-fringe, Academy Award, platinum record, life and circumstances of Hoboken's Own Francis Albert Sinatra - well, someone in the audience might just be inspired to heckle or chortle. Which might inspire the friends of the karaoke-ist to take umbrage.
These umbraged friends may not want to eat "it" up and spit "it" out. They just might want to eat up and spit out the heckler.
And what with the heat, the humidity, the liquor, and the ubiquity of illegal guns...the record shows that some people are inspired to haul off and do it their way.
All of this is causing many karaoke singers to avoid "My Way" entirely.
Some bars have taken it off their play list, entirely - although you never know just what song might provoke violence.
A Thai man killed eight of his neighbors in a rage after they sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
My guess, however, is that you're probably safe with "Knock Three Times", "Sugar Sugar," and "Sweet Caroline."
But - at least if I were in the audience - I'd advise karaoke singers to steer clear of "Horse with No Name", "Some People Call Me the Space Cowboy," and "Stairway to Heaven."* Not that I'd be carrying an illegal weapon, mind you. Still, these songs would represent a clear provocation to me, that's for sure. You wanna climb a stairway to heaven? Right this way. (While I'm in warning mode, perhaps all radio stations should remove these songs from their play lists. While I try not to be a distracted driver - no texting, no phoning, just an occasional Power Bar snack on a long drive - I could well drive off the highway or plough into the vehicle in front of me while lunging wildly to the radio to press "Seek" when one of these tunes comes on.)
In addition to outright bans on "My Way," some Filipino karaoke bars are looking at other ways to tamp down potential problems:
A subset of karaoke bars with G.R.O.’s — short for guest relations officers, a euphemism for female prostitutes — often employ gay men, who are seen as neutral, to defuse the undercurrent of tension among the male patrons. Since the gay men are not considered rivals for the women’s attention — or rivals in singing, which karaoke machines score and rank — they can use humor to forestall macho face-offs among the patrons.
First, I want to vote "Guest Relations Officer" the best euphemism of the year. Wow. They don't get much better than that.
Second, how about "tension deflector in a karaoke bar" as a job title? Gay applicants only, please.
Scooby, dooby, doo.
*Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," not the utterly charming and snappy Neil Sedaka "(I'll Build a) Stairway to Heaven."
And thanks to my brother-in-law, Rick T, for suggesting this as a good blog topic.