Photo: Wong's Bar, Bangkok.

Idle banter forum

karaoke on the bus

Posted by sayadian on 16/7/2011 at 20:14

I feel like apologising sometimes for the impression of Cambodian music most travellers get when their only exposure is to the nauseating karaoke they play on buses in Cambodia.I started this thread after Madmac mentioned the Cambodian-American fusion band Dengue fever whose lead singer Chhom Nimol has a hauntingly beautiful voice reminiscent of the unique Cambodian 60's style when young singers were inspired by listening to American forces broadcasting rock and pop music in Vietnam.The exuberance of Pen Ron or the sheer incredible range of Ros SereySothea. Sadly, the Khmer Rouge ended all that and killed these great singers.
There is also Khmer traditional music with instruments like Chapai which create a true Cambodian 'blues' feel.
Back to Karaoke, I don't know how people feel about some of the hideous videos they show. The one where the girl pushes her best friend, who is wheelchair bound, over a cliff because of jealousy is totally revolting. My favourite at the moment is the drunken driver singing to his girlfriend before he plunges through the side of a concrete bridge in a fireball and then sings of his sadness as she lies there with a broken neck.Some of them are classic non-pc. e.g. the male teacher who seduces his young student and of course it all ends in tragedy-the main theme of most Cambodian karaoke.
Anyone got any comments about music in S.E.Asia?
Myself I prefer the Laos-Isan folk music, very relaxing.

#1 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 16/7/2011 at 23:10

That's funny, I like Issan folk too. Yes, and you forgot to mention that Chom Nimol is hot!

As for themes in music here, Thai pop has that recurring theme as well. I loved him, and he screwed me over. I loved her, and she screwed me over. It's wearying. I want to say "toughen a up a little bit for Christ sakes. Think of the troops who are fighting in Afghanistan and find out their wives are screwing around. Now THAT sucks (having had first hand experience on that one). Even then, no point in crying in your beer. Nobody is going to care anyway. Get another draft choice."

Alas, you can't have a conversation with a music video. They just don't make them like "Thriller" anymore.

#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


Posted by exacto on 17/7/2011 at 01:05

i like the thai issan folk music like mor lam and luk thung also. they are fun and clever and easy to listen to styles, unless you are trapped on a bus for eleven hours and they are playing those karaoke-style videos over and over again on the world's loudest no fidelity sound system.

i'm not sure it is only music videos with those disturbing themes. the thai-language movies i've seen with my friends often had mindlessly violent storylines with themes of mental illness, murder, and suicide. fun stuff, huh?

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,651
 Where has exacto been? 

Posted by exacto on 17/7/2011 at 01:11

.

#4 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,651
 Where has exacto been? 

Posted by eastwest on 17/7/2011 at 10:16

I'm not familiar with the issan folk music but in general I mut say that asian music doesn't do much for me. Folk, traditional or modern. I know it's a huge continent and plenty of great bands and I'm generalizing here
It's one of the few areas in which this continent is seriously lacking when compared to the americas, africa or europe. Off course you have the occasional good band such as Cambodia Space Project or Dengue Fever but as a whole I find it very poor. But, you can't have it all.
Dengue Fever, as good as they are, are still a very much western influenced band.
I'm missing a great truly asian band/singer where the base/origin of the music is asian that would really "catch" me.

Completely agree on the video themes. I guess there must be a video-producers guidebook for successfull videos that states that at least 2 people should die.
And on a related note are the (mostly) korean soaps that have their fair share of misery and are immensely popular. Always great to walk into a local shop and try to order something when a soap is shown on TV.

#5 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778

Posted by sayadian on 17/7/2011 at 14:27

As you say EastWest Dengue fever are a Western influenced band but they do covers of songs by singers like Ros Sereysothea,Pen Ron and these originals were influenced by Western rock music but came up with a unique sound fusing the Cambodian penchant for female singers to hit the high notes with rock and pop.Some of the guitar backings on those early recordings is truly amazing, very talented.Wonder what would have evolved if the KR hadn't taken over and killed them all.
The worse pop music I've heard over there has got to be Vietnam.

#6 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 17/7/2011 at 23:22

Carabao
That's a damn good band. Been to two of their concerts, and well worth the take.

As for Television - my favorite Thai TV theme is where the guy rapes the girl and then she falls in love with him. Oh yeah, this happens all the time!

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 18/7/2011 at 13:18

Her's a delightful compilation featuring the bubbly Pen Ron with great footage.See if anybody can recognise the location.The modern Riverside Bistro? who is the older guy sitting on the stage? Probably her 'Bong Tata'.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCotIDR3k3E
Madmac
Carabao must be drawing their pensions by now.Though I've never figured whether it's his name or the name of the band.I believe 'Carabao' is Tagalog.Still see his face plastered on ad posters in Thailand.

Here's one of a typical Isan music festival.The guy singing is not the best but I posted it to show the sheer exuberance of the people. I love the 'Ram Wong,' this dancing is typical in Thailand,Laos and Cambodia.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg3BhWD8-**

#8 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 18/7/2011 at 17:09

It's kind of like Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band. Bruce is Bruce, but he's not a solo performer. Carabao is the same.

And yes it's Tagalog. In Thailand calling yourself a Buffalo (Kwai) wouldn't not work. Hence Carabao used a different name.

#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 18/7/2011 at 17:52

Ah yes got the connotation.A bit like the poster on here calling himself 'pajero.'
It's not something I'd like to be called in Spain :-)
It always gives the Thais a smirk when people go to Kanchannaburi to see the bridge over the river kwai.
I often wonder, because Kinnear is a Western name, when a Joy Kinnear is going to turn up in Cambodia should cause a few giggles as it's an impolite word for copulation.

#10 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 18/7/2011 at 18:40

It's not really the "River Kwai" however. As in, the name of the river isn't Buffalo river. Closest I can come to writing it in English is Kweo. I suppose you were already aware of that though.

#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 18/7/2011 at 18:57

It isn't, that's true but all the tourists call it that and the way they say it makes it sound like another thai word as no doubt YOU are aware :-)

#12 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 18/7/2011 at 20:25

Yep - although sadly I have never been there. I am thoroughly domesticated and it's a long ride on the bike from Muk. But I do want to go and pay my respects to the fallen.

#13 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 18/7/2011 at 21:51

The War Graves Commission keep the graveyards immaculate.It's a very sad place when you read some of the ages of the soldiers who died from maltreatment.Many only 18 years of age.

#14 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 18/7/2011 at 22:18

I read the book "The Colonel of Tamarkan" and it illustrates it well. Yep, tragic. What happened with the Imperial Japanese Army, which had behaved perfectly decently to its captives in WW I, is a good illustration of how things can go wrong and a people lose their way.

#15 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.