2018 is now well underway. And while information with regards to Eurovision 2018 in Lisbon has been coming thick and fast over the past few months, there’s another continental-wide singing contest coming up this year that we’ve heard relatively little about since its announcement: the Eurovision Asia Song Contest 2018.
So while we wait for more information to come from those organising the contest, we thought we’d continue our wishlist series to keep the buzz going and give you a glimpse of what might wait ahead. And this time we’re heading to Thailand.
With a population of 68.8 million, the music of Thailand has been heavily influenced by its location at the intersection of India and China. Its traditional musical instruments include the jakhe (Indian origin) and the klong jin (Chinese origin). Despite never being colonised, various forms of western music still found there way to the country, with jazz and western classical music becoming popular in the late 1800’s. After World War II, the genre of luk thung (also referred to as Thai country music) emerged to become a popular style. Eventually, in the 1960’s rock music took centre stage, and by the 1990’s western pop finally got its time to shine, taking over mainstream listeners. Initially known as string music, Thai pop has dominated the music industry of Thailand ever since.
It’s clear Thai music has been influenced by a number of styles and genres. So here are five artists that represent the best of Thai music, and who we’d love to see perform for Thailand at Eurovision Asia.
Bird Thongchai (real name Thongchai McIntyre) is Thailand’s no.1 superstar. Having sold over 25 million albums, he’s one of the most successful musicians in Thailand’s history. Known for his string and luk thung music, Bird released his first album in 1986 and is still going strong today (his concerts usually sell out within a day). He’s won too many awards to name them all, but notably, he became the first Thai artist to receive an International MTV Award. He’s also been honoured three separate times with royal decorations from Thailand’s honours system. His vast experience of performing live, in addition to his award-winning performances in numerous films, television shows and musicals, would set him up well for appearing on the Eurovision Asia stage.
Bird also has some international acclaim. For anyone who lives near St. John’s University in New York, you’ll be able to see an award-winning documentary of his life entitled Crossing Borders. In 2010, Bird also embarked on his first international performances, singing in Los Angeles in addition to at the 50th Anniversary of the Lincoln Centre in New York.
But Bird is certainly not a one-trick pony when it comes to his music. He’s currently embarking on the Bird Marathon Project, where he’s collaborating with eight other Thai artists of varying styles. A teaser of each collaboration is shown in the video above. From pop, to rock, to indie, to country, to even rap and EDM, Bird can do it all and still slay! No doubt this ability to own multiple musical genres would serve him well when trying to choose the correct song for Eurovision Asia.
From a Thai legend to a rising star. Jannine Weigel is a German-Thai singer, who was originally born in Germany but moved to Thailand at the age of 10 in 2010. Once there, she entered the televised singing contest Singing Kids, where she placed third. She subsequently signed a record deal with MBO (the ‘teenager branch’ of Thai music group GMM Grammy) and she has released a number of Thai-language songs through the label under the name Ploychompoo. She is now the main star of MBO – her 2016 single “Pliw” (“Away”) charted at no.3 in Thailand, and the music video sits at over 105 million views, making it the most watched video on the MBO YouTube channel (by a margin of 82 million).
However, Jannine is also living a Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus double life. In addition to her Thai music and releasing the German-language single “Zurück Zu Dir”, she has also developed a fully fledged English-language career. Initially starting off doing cover songs on her personal YouTube channel, she’s subsequently released two English-language EPs (2015’s Genesis and 2017’s Deep End). Her sound is constantly maturing, and her recent English-language music has allowed her to show off another side to herself that doesn’t come across in the more girl-next-door style of her Thai-language music. Her latest single “Ghostbuster” epitomes this.
We don’t know yet if Eurovision Asia will have the same three-minute rule on its entries as Eurovision does, but “Ghostbuster” happens to come in at two minutes 45 seconds. Should Thailand just internally select Jannine and “Ghostbuster” straight off the back? Or should Germany try and recruit her in the future?
This list just wouldn’t be complete without a T-pop girl group. And GAIA are just that. Comprised of Joy, Pam, Junji, Pleng and Nun, the group debuted in 2013 with the song “Audition”, which charted well in Thailand and the music video of which currently sits at over 7.5 million views. They had a steady career following this, with 2014’s “Love Potion” (see above) being their most popular single. The song charted in the top 10 of the Billboard Thailand chart, and the music video has amassed over 13 million views.
While they may not have released any music since 2016’s “Love Me Please!”, what better place than Eurovision Asia for the girls to come back together and show just how much spice they can serve. No doubt they’d be able to show all of Asia (and Oceania) that they can compete with even the best k-pop, j-pop and c-pop girl groups out there.
Endorphine was one of Thailand’s most popular rock band’s in the early 2000’s. Unfortunately, after releasing two studio albums the group broke up in 2006 (click here for an example of their work). But undeterred from pursuing a music career, the band’s lead vocalist Thanida Thamwimon went solo under the name DA Endorphine (Da was Thanida’s nickname whilst a part of the band). She has gone on to release four studio albums and ten EPs, the songs from which have given her four number 1’s and 12 top-5 singles. Her latest no.1 “Thex mi chan chan mi khir” is shown above.
She has won numerous awards during her solo career, including Best Female Singer at the Star Entertainment Awards in both 2007 and 2010. DA’s vast experience in the music industry would no doubt provide useful when competing at Eurovision Asia. She’s shown that she can handle rock as well as slower-paced ballads. So with this breadth of music under her wing, she’d be able to adapt to whatever song she took to the competition.
BiToey Rsiam (real name Suteewan Thaveesin) is a Thai pop singer. In 2002 she won the singing competition Panasonic Star Challenge, and has gone on to release a number of hit singles. Her most successful song was 2013’s “Rak Tong Perd (Nan Oak)” (otherwise known as “Splash Out”), with the group 3.2.1 (see above). The music video for the song reached 4 million views within six days, and presently has 147.8 million. The song’s success made her one of Thailand’s top pop singers at the time.
However, BiToey has also been given the nickname ‘sun samer hoo‘ (crotch-high shorts) due to her sexy fashion sense and outspokenness. The music video for her 2015 single “Tid hnub” (“Sticky”) has been referred to as the Thai equivalent of “Anaconda” (we’ll let you watch below and see if you agree with that assessment). But with lyrics such as “Sticky, sticky, so sticky / If you love me, see me, score me / Glue my heart to yours”, the song and styling didn’t always get a positive response in Thailand. However, speaking to BK magazine, BiToey notes that “I wear shorts because it’s my inner character. I know that I look my best in shorts.” She goes on to add: “People always say that I’m famous because of my looks. But the truth is I’ve been touring nonstop for three years. People loved watching my show long before I made the news as a sexy singer.”
She’s got the looks to become the first winner of Eurovision Asia’s Next Top Model, and the attitude to deal with the pressures that go with it. All she needs now is to bring one of her killer songs and jaw-dropping stage shows, and she could slay the Eurovision Asia stage like no other!
So, what do you think of our five choices? Do you want to see any of them represent Thailand at Eurovision Asia? Which other Thai artists have we missed that you think should be included? Let us know all in the comments below!