Sinatra’s ‘My Way’: Fatal Karaoke Encounters in the Philippines

In an unexpected and chilling phenomenon, Frank Sinatra’s iconic song “My Way” has been linked to a series of fatal incidents in the Philippines. Over a decade, more than a dozen individuals have tragically lost their lives while performing this popular karaoke track, earning it the grim title of the ‘world’s deadliest karaoke song.’

The song, released in 1969, quickly became one of Sinatra’s most celebrated hits. Its popularity transcended borders, making it a favorite choice for karaoke enthusiasts worldwide. However, in the Philippines, this seemingly harmless pastime took a dark turn as several individuals were murdered while singing this very song.

One such incident occurred in 2007 when Romy Baligula, a 29-year-old man, was shot dead during his rendition of “My Way” at a karaoke bar in San Mateo. The assailant, a 43-year-old security guard named Robilito Ortega, reportedly became enraged over Baligula’s off-key performance, leading him to pull out a .38 caliber pistol and shoot Baligula in the chest.

Another tragic event unfolded in 2018 when 61-year-old Jose Bosmion, Jr. was fatally stabbed by his neighbor, Rolando Cañeso, 28, in Manila. The altercation began when Bosmion seized the microphone from Cañeso during a birthday celebration and refused to relinquish it. The disagreement escalated into a violent confrontation, resulting in Bosmion’s untimely death.

These are just two examples of the numerous fatalities associated with the song. By 2019, Esquire reported that the death toll had risen to over 12. This alarming trend has prompted many karaoke bar owners in the Philippines to remove “My Way” from their song lists.

Theories abound as to why this particular song has incited such violence. Butch Albarracin, owner of a singing school in the Philippines, suggests that the song’s lyrics, which convey a sense of pride and arrogance, may provoke tension among listeners. Others, like Roland B. Tolentino, a pop culture expert at the University of the Philippines, argue that the incidents reflect the country’s broader societal issues, with karaoke merely serving as a trigger when certain social norms are violated.

In response to the escalating violence, the government implemented a 10pm curfew for karaoke bars in 2018. However, it remains unclear whether this measure was directly related to the so-called “My Way Killings.”

This chilling phenomenon serves as a stark reminder of the unexpected ways in which popular culture can intersect with societal tensions, leading to tragic outcomes. As the world continues to enjoy Sinatra’s timeless classic, it is hoped that further measures will be taken to prevent such incidents from recurring in the future.