You know you have made it in life when you have a song written about you. Thailand is that kind of place that constantly creates situations and material to make some quality tunes. Whether it’s from the perspective of a jilted lover, a dismembered love-rat, or a dreamy love song about meeting your partner for the first time as your eyes met across a smoky brothel, songs are created in Thailand every night, they are just not usually written down or remembered. Here are three of the most popular hit-songs written by Westerners about Thailand:
#1 – “One Night in Bangkok” by Murray Head
“One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster” is a catchy hook that gets you every time and has become the anthem of the foreign Bangkok expat over the past 3-decades. This 1984-hit was a collaboration between the British actor and singer, Murray Head, who rapped his way through the song, alongside the Swedish singer-songwriter, Anders Glenmark.
When you hear the immortal lines of “The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free,” or “You’ll find a god in every golden cloister,” and especially, “and if you’re lucky then the god’s a she,” it becomes quite apparent that the song is focusing on Thailand’s more hedonistic charms rather than its rich culture and history, but that’s why we love it, right?
#2 – “Pattaya Pattaya Pattaya” Lou De Pryck
If you were going to write a song about a location in Thailand that merges love, deceit, treachery, beauty, excitement and disembowelment like no other, no doubt that prize would go to Pattaya. Wait a minute, there is already a song written about the hedonistic city by the sea that is aptly named “Pattaya, Pattaya”. It was so good that they named it twice!
The song was written by now-Pattaya-resident and Belgium songwriter, Lou De Pryck. Lou was a major player on the Belgium music scene during the 1970s and 1980s. The ‘Pattaya Song’ was a remake of Lou’s former hit, ‘Kingston, Kingston’ about Jamaica and adapted it to ‘Pattaya, Pattaya’. The song is a fun and joyful ode to the city that never sleeps and as Lou has sold over 20-million records worldwide during his career, the song has become an anthem in the city.
#3 – “Pattaya Wonderland” by Barry Upton
There is nothing more interesting than bobbing and weaving through crowds of colorful characters in Pattaya from holidaymaking families and hordes of Chinese lemmings, to bar babes, Somchais, skunk pussies, wealthy real-estate developers and vagabonds, Pattaya is an eclectic paradise that really has to be experienced to be believed.
“Pattaya Wonderland” is a song that was created by local Thailand expat and musician, Barry Upton, who captures a more sweet and angelic side of Pattaya that is also a very real part of the city and a contrast to some of the other songs about partying and hedonism. The song focusses “Sunshine in a land of smiles” and “daytime, nighttime, any time’s a good time to love in Pattaya” and is a happy-go-lucky rendition that is quite infectious and reflects on the good times on holiday in Pattaya.
Not every country in the world has foreigners writing songs about it. Take Azerbaijan for instance or Northern Ireland! Thailand has created the atmosphere for songwriting through its interesting and thought-provoking environment. If you are a musician and live in Thailand or are on holiday here, it could be your song that is the next one to become synonymous with Westerners in Thailand.