Have you ever taken karaoke too seriously?

According to a widely read feature in Saturday’s New York Times, there have been at least half a dozen murders in the Philippines after people sang karaoke to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The “My Way Killings” have occurred “after the singer sang out of tune, causing other patrons to laugh or jeer.” This is so sad and messed up. We at PopWatch are such losers at karaoke that it has never occurred to us that things could so easily turn violent. The most potentially violent karaoke-related scene I’ve witnessed was when a coworker who may or may not be pictured muttered an obscenity under his breath after a karaoke-bar manager politely requested that we depart the premises because our paid hours had long expired. I guess I once technically killed a pitcher of Sapporo when I fell during “I Am The Walrus,” but I don’t think that counts. Wow, we’re cool! Your stories will be better. Tell us: Have you ever had violent thoughts during karaoke? And how did you suppress them?

PopWatch has always advocated private room karaoke, the benefits of which also include padded furniture, not subjecting strangers to the horrific sound of your voice, and the freedom to move about whenever, wherever you want.

Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett

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  • David

    No violent thoughts, but I was in Korea for a bit, and I imagine they have a bit in common with the Philippines when it comes to karaoke. Choreographed dances, strutting around on a stage working the audience, American idols would kill to have that kind of experience. It is pretty wild, and also significantly more fun than the karaoke I’ve been to in the U.S.

    • Maserda

      Kareoke is actually a serious form of singing/performing in Asia (mainly Japan and Koreas). They have it in their homes and train their kids how to sing using such machines. The kareoke machine was actually first invented as a training device!
      Meanwhile, the USA loves using this activity to make fun of ourselves. We don’t care if we are out of tune (we’re typically too drunk to care). Gotta love the cultural differences.

      • wakeforce

        Have you ever heard a Phillipino try to sing “rolling down the river”? Hilarious!

  • Karen

    I’ve never done private room… but I have wanted to hurt people that sang “Blue” or Killing Me Softly”.

    I’m not a perfect singer by any means, but I believe if you only sing songs you are good at, you are taking karaoke too seriously.

    Did you know that karaoke is the Japanese word for empty orchestra? It’s hauntingly beautiful– HIMYM, S1, Pineapple Incident

    • JosieG

      Every time I hear anything about Karaoke I think about HIMYM! One of the best episodes ever. It is hauntingly beautiful.

      • Angie

        It’s also steak sauce.

  • A

    Do people still do Karaoke? Wow, I thought that went out of style years ago.

    • GH

      They sure do. They’ve also added fake instruments and call it Rock Band or Guitar Hero.

    • Vicki

      Are you kidding? They have a website devoted to it http://www.karaoketraveler.com,with thousands of places to sing all over the U.S. and world championships.

  • Ed

    They take karaoke very seriously in the Philippines. And I have a lot of Filipino friends here in the States, and almost all of them have karaoke machines in their homes. It’s almost a sport.

  • Sandra

    Right, so that’s terrifyingly over the edge, but my brother-in-law, who I’d classify as a loveable loser, is MAD for the karoke. He’s always regaling me with these tales of how he brought some bar ot its feet with his rendition of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” I’m glad he’s having fun, but he takes it way too seriously. He considers himself some sort of performer – and yes, he’s a regular at the local karaoke bar.

  • Dave H.

    First, ‘private room karaoke’ is for children. The REAL karaoke singer is willing to get up in front of complete strangers and risk humiliation. If you want to sing in a private room, you might as well sit in your living room and sing along with your CD’s…it’s cheaper. As I have a mellifluous voice, I have never brought that level of consternation to my karaoke sessions, although once (true story!) after a particularly terrific rendition of Mack the Knife brought down the house, I thanked the cheering audience and proceeded to jump off the stage, my foot hooking on the mic cord and firing the mic across the room, hitting someone in the head. That’s the best I can do.

    • KC

      The fun of Norebongs (what they call the private room karaoke in Korea) is that your singing with your friends and you get to sing more often. How else could you have space to get up and do the Thriller dance when your singing that song?

      Plus…tambourines! Enough said.

      • ger

        I’m so glad that someone else knows that the private room is all about the tambourine.

  • Patrick Murphy

    >”I’m not a perfect singer by any means, but I believe if you only sing songs you are good at, you are taking karaoke too seriously.”

    I prefer not getting booed off-stage. Although clearly someone is taking bad singers way too seriously over there.

    • Karen

      Most places I know won’t boo.. As long as you’re entertaining, it doesn’t matter how much vocal ability you have. My “Dance 10 Looks 3″ brings down the house, even if I don’t hit the high notes!

  • pinky

    I love to watch kareoke – there are some TERRIBLE singers out there but it takes guts to get up in front of a room full of strangers and let it rip. Kudos to all the kareoke singers out there! Even when you’re bad, you’re really good.

  • harry

    well I live in a college town and when people sing a song that everybody knows(Thunder Road) it almost starts a riots with the fratt boys. teettering the brink of violence if that could count.

  • Stacie

    I was on a booze cruise and it was toward the end of the night. The resident fun guy (read: obnoxious) had been pushing everyone to sing all night. He finally got up there, talking through a Johnny Cash song, and we got our entire group to leave en masse. He looked so sad up there as we all left!

  • cib

    I really do not have violent thoughts but I would just like to share stories… We love Karaoke here in the Philippines, and whenever there is a fiesta (feast) in a town or a barrio, houses always have karaoke machines and it would go on and on for more than 24 hours… It is sometimes pretty hilarious that we would go around town and count how many karaoke machines there would be.

    It is funny and scary at the same time when someone will sing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” because someone might actually get shot for hitting the wrong notes… As for other songs, the top two and top three most requested songs in Karaoke is James Ingram’s “Just Once” and “Zombie” by The Cranberries.

  • marcus

    although i do karaoke and not all the performances are great i cant say i have ever sat there wishing someone dead because of their singing, i’ve wished them off the stage but taking someones life over their singing?????? How can it be that singing a certain karaoke songs would get you killed?
    the x factor judges have to sit through hours of potentially bad auditions and haven’t attacked anyone, well it’s not been reported if they have so really if this is happening surely it would be connected to a gang initiation or something more sinister than just mob culture, alcohol and a mic hog.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m contemplating making that picture my screensaver here at work…

    And yes, it is possible. When you hurt yourself, when you “practice” your songs prior to participation, when you stalk where your favorite host will be each night of the week…

    I’ll stop now.

  • keith

    Well, another community that often takes kareoke very seriously is the gay community. Oh, lordy. When I was younger I went to a gay bar every Sunday to meet up with friends. Sundays was the kareoke night. The place was standing room only and there were some honest to goodness damn good singers. And some not so good singers. And most of them, bad and good, sang every week without fail as if they were actual stars. After a while, it all became a little sad. Don’t get me wrong. We had a blast. But I often wondered if the performers thought of themselves as celebrities. It was bizarre.

    • Dave H.

      Believe it or not, the ‘regulars’ who go every week have a blast too. We don’t think we are celebrities, just people who like the thrill of singing in front of a crowd and hanging with friends between songs. If that’s ‘bizarre’ or ‘sad’, so be it, but it’s no sadder than people who go ‘clubbing’ or go to the sports bar every weekend to watch the ‘big game’. Just saying.

  • DawninDenver

    So is anybody out there from NYC and can tell me a fun Karaoke night at a NYC bar when I’m there in April?

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