Thai Music - Pop (String)
In our last article about Thai music, we looked at Peua Cheewit. This time out we will look at the current Thai pop scene.
Thais sometimes call their pop music 'string'. Others, more harshly, call it bubblegum pop. It has a strong western influence and really started to become popular in the mid-nineties. Western artists such as Britney and Michael Jackson were heavily marketed and started making big inroads into the Thai music market. This was followed by the introduction of pretty Asian boy bands and girl bands from Japan and South Korea.
It was not long before Thailand was producing pop acts of its own. They are very much imitations of the pop stars from the west. There are many male and female singers with glamorous images, boy bands and girl bands. Thailand will never have a problem finding beautiful young people who can sing and dance and many of the stars are genuinely talented performers.
Pop is now the biggest music market in Thailand. There are many, many Thai pop stars. We will try to introduce just a few of the biggest names to give a taste of what they are producing. Again, we will include a few links to examples of these artists work on YouTube.
'Bird' Thongchai McIntyre (born 1958)
It is probably fair to call Bird the biggest pop star in Thailand. He has been a regular at the top of the charts since the mid-nineties and has a long string of hits. He first found fame with a few minor acting roles before landing the lead role in the internationally acclaimed 'Sunset at Chaopraya' (1996). He plays a Japanese soldier during the World War II occupation of Thailand who falls for a Thai woman in Bangkok.
He soon turned to singing and has never looked back. He is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars in Thailand. His mellow voice, clean cut image and middle of the road songs have made him popular with all sections of mainstream Thai society
His father (who died when Bird was still young) was Scottish, which explains the light skin and western nose look that Thai people consider so attractive and seem to insist upon in so many of their stars.
Bird's recent work has included collaborations with Mor Lam star Jintara and rock star Sek Loso.
Tata Young (born 1980)
Tata Young was groomed for stardom from an early age. She won her first singing contest at age 11. By the time she was 15 she had released her first album and was a big star in Thailand. She had a string of Thai hits and also did some acting work.
She is unashamedly driven and ambitious and soon started working towards international fame. She performed in the US, Australia, China and Japan. She has since had huge success in the Philipines, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.
She is the naughty girl of Thai pop. A little bit of a Thai Madonna. She flaunts her sexuality and is reputed to have undergone breast enhancing plastic surgery. She has had a string of high profile relationships including one with Thai tennis star Paradorn Srichaphan. Behind the controversy and sexy image, she is actually a very capable singer.
Her father is American, which gives her that light skinned, luke-kreung (mixed-race) look that Thais love so much.
In 2004, she released her first English language album 'I Believe'. It included the single 'Sexy, Naughty, Bitchy', which stirred up more controversy in Thailand. In 2006, she released a second English language album and she is currently working on a third. She has had tremendous success across much of Asia but she still has not broken into the English language market as much as she would like.
YouTube - Sexy,
YouTube - Dhoom Dhoom
YouTube - Yaak Geb Ter Wai Tung Song Khon (Want to Keep us Together)
It is a little unkind of us to file Da Endorphine under pop. She is a genuinely talented singer with a distinctive and powerful voice. She is currently the biggest selling female star in Thailand. She initially found fame with the band Endorphine formed in 2004 but she subsequently went solo and took the name Da Endorphine.
She released her first solo album 'Parb Luang Tah' (Illusion) in 2007. It was a huge success. In 2008, she released her second album 'Sound About'.
She has a tiny frame and a tomboy look but belts her songs out with tremendous power. She has been unable to perform recently because of a throat problem but she has now recovered and is due to play Phuket Brewery on 22nd August 2009.
With only two albums, she already has a long string of hits:
Palmy (Born 1981)
Palmy is yet another Thai pop star who is a luke kreung (mixed race). Her mother is Thai and her father is Belgian. After spending her early years in Thailand, she completed her schooling in Australia before returning to Thailand. She loved singing and immediately set about doing the rounds of the record companies to audition. Remarkably, she quickly got a break with Grammy and released her first album at age 21.
Her great voice, bubbly personality and clear enthusiasm for singing quickly made her a big hit.
Thai record producers quickly started creating their own imitations of the western girl and boy bands. It is not difficult in Thailand to find good looking, energetic young singers and dancers. Probably the most successful of all these girl and boy bands has been Girly Berry.
They are very attractive young women and they market an overtly sexy image, which has not always gone down well with the more conservative parts of Thai society.
In 2008, the Thai government were looking for some celebrities to front their annual campaign for women to dress modestly during the Songkhran water fight festival. They thought Girly Berry with their sexy image would be ideal candidates because if they would dress modestly it would encourage all young Thai women to do the same. Girly Berry happily accepted the role only to appear all over the front pages of the national newspapers on the first day of Songkhran both wet and very skimpily dressed. It was great publicity for the band but did not go down too well with the authorities.
We can only hope to introduce a few of the current big names of Thai pop. There are many, many more. Next time out we will take a look at the rock band scene in Thailand.
Thai Music -- Genres & History - An introduction to the main genres of Thai music and their history.
Thai Music -- Mor Lam - An introduction to the stars of Mor Lam (Thai folk music).
Thai Music -- Luke Toong - An introduction to the stars of Luke Toong (Thai folk and country music).
Thai Music -- Peua Cheewit - AAn introduction to the stars of Peua Cheewit (Thai songs for life).
Thai Music -- Pop - An introduction to the stars of Thai pop music.
Thai Music -- Rock - An introduction to the stars of Thai rock music.
Live Music in Phuket - We finish our series about Thai music with a look at the live music scene in Phuket.