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World’s biggest band launch their new album “Map of the Soul: 7” BTS

Tim Newton

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World’s biggest band launch their new album “Map of the Soul: 7” BTS | The Thaiger
BTS in the launch music clip for Map of the Soul:7
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From the first determined drum stroke in the new BTS music video (below) you get the sense that these guys mean business for their new album. The music video for their first official single ON kicked over more than 70 million views in its first 2 days since launch.

The world’s biggest band BTS – in terms of album sales, stadium tickets sold, and sheer internet presence – has launched their latest studio album, their seventh, Map of the Soul:7. And they’re spending their time launching it in the US, seen as the holy grail of pop for bands around the world.

The seven-member South Korean band has boldly gone where few ‘foreign’ language bands have gone before. Last year they notched up a major milestone becoming only the second band to have three consecutive No. 1 albums in the Billboard Chart in a 12 month period. The last band to do that was a British quartet called The Beatles… you may have heard of them.

But the white-washed world of American pop has been slow to come around to the invasion of the South Korean band that cut its teeth in the ultra-competitive world of K-pop before making headway in the international market. Indeed they’ve done just about everything differently than bands before and, somehow, etched out a brave new world of pop success, on their own terms.

Launching in June 2013, BTS (aka. Bangtan Boys, Bangtan Seoyondan, which translates as Bulletproof Boy Scouts), the seven members have played with hip hop, R&B, power ballads, pure pop and edgy rap styles. Seven years later their music is much more difficult to define as it crosses multiple genres and emerges as something new and distinct. 

But BTS is a lot more than its three letter acronym. BTS is RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook.

Much of their success is rooted in a few points-of-difference, all of them taken to new levels of professionalism and art.

• Every BTS music video is almost a piece of art, sometimes filmic and always beautifully crafted.

• BTS write, produce and perform. They act, sing, dance and rap. They are the total pop-package.

• BTS lean heavily on their authentic messages of loving yourself, acknowledging your shadows, accepting your frailties and, well, a lot of other ‘young people’ issues. Apart from the occasionally dark and ‘real’ messages in their music, all seven members appear humble and intelligent, and willing to share their ups and downs with fans (Band leader ‘RM’ has an IQ of 148).

• BTS have weaponised social media in a way never before attempted or achieved. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok… they have accumulated a vast online fandom, called ARMY. It’s easy to say that there has NEVER been such a motivated, dedicated fandom in music history, across borders, across languages.

• They have a well-catalogued rags-to-riches backstory, complete with hundreds of videos following their early days, failures and apprehension. From living together in a tiny dorm and cooking their own meals together, all the way to their world-wide popularity and chartered jets, it’s a fascinating journey that adds to their appeal.

• They are genuinely likeable and have always, ALWAYS, thanked their legion of fans, first and foremost, for their success.

‘7’ has held its position at No. 1 on Amazon’s bestsellers chart for nearly a month, and the upcoming US stadium tour (then to Europe and Asia) has already sold out. Even before its release, Map of the Soul: 7 was the fastest-selling album this year (4 million sales), selling four times the numbers of pre-release sales for Taylor Swift’s Lover.

There’s little doubt BTS will earn their fourth consecutive No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200.

Why ‘7’? The band says it’s a salute to their seven years together as a band and, well, there’s seven of them.

Their launch single (which follows two YouTube teaser music videos of the songs Shadow and Ego, plus a hugely popular performance of Black Swan on James Corden’s Late Late Show – 39 million views), is ON.

The music video released yesterday is an alternative version of the collaboration featuring Sia on the album. ON is a catchy anthem starting out with a stripped back church-like organ breaking into a precision drum-band punching out the rhythms for the track.

As with most of their work, all BTS members get their chance to shine. Just when you think you’re getting into the track (it’s in Korean and English), it changes direction and surprises. Wait until you get to the dance break in the middle!

The new album has 20 tracks including some from the previous Map of the Soul: Persona. But this is certainly taking a darker and edgier turn for the band which, seven years on, has a rich tapestry of styles in their extensive repertoire.

Full Track List for Map of the Soul: 7

Intro: Persona

작은 것들을 위한 시 Boy With Luv (Feat. Halsey)

Make It Right

Jamais Vu

Dionysus

Interlude : Shadow

Black Swan

Filter 시차

Louder than bombs

ON

욱 UGH!

00:00 (Zero O’Clock)

Inner Child

친구 Moon Respect

We are Bulletproof : the Eternal

Outro : Ego

ON (Feat. Sia)

But there’s stormy weather ahead for the band and ARMY with South Korea’s compulsory military conscripton looming over the seven 20-something members. The oldest member, Jin, reaches 28 years of age in December this year which will force him to enter the mandatory 2 year military service. And that will be followed over the following four years by the other band members – Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook. Although there’s been a strong media and online push to get an exemption for the group, (in 2019 BTS contributed $4.65 billion to the South Korean GDP), the members have all said they look forward to serving their country.

For now BTS are switched ON with their new album and their reshaping of the world pop industry will continue, for at least the rest of 2020.

World's biggest band launch their new albumYou know you’ve made it in the pop music world when you end up on Carpool Karaoke

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

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Entertainment

Violette Wautier new release “Brassac”

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Violette Wautier new release “Brassac” | The Thaiger

Violette Wautier’s new dreamy alternative pop single “Brassac” proves is met with excitement from her fans both in Thailand and around Southeast Asia!

After more than a year away from the recording studio, Thai-Belgian artist “Violette Wautier” has returned with an instant alternative pop hit, “Brassac”Premiered on March 8th 2020 on YouTube, the highly anticipated English single has already hit 200,000 views overnight. Spotify has also picked up the dreamy track to lead their “Indie Shuffle” playlist, allowing Violette to reach more fans worldwide.

Violette Wautier new release “Brassac” | News by The Thaiger

Named after a small town in the South of France, “Brassac” is an irresistible alternative pop anthem about a short-lived summer romance. Violette sings about falling in love quickly and embracing the rush of getting to know someone before the season inevitably draws to a close: “So love me slowly… Stay awake all night… We don’t need forever… Just you and I.”

To capture the sunny vibes of “Brassac”, the music video plays with beautiful warm imagery, Violette’s carefree dancer-like movements and a storyline about two people sharing momentary happiness together as lovers.

The combination of playful lyrics, electric synths, and Violette’s signature airy vocals makes “Brassac” the perfect third track for her upcoming album. It is a gentler, upbeat singalong song that follows Violette’s first two edgier singles, “Drive” and “Smoke”.

 

ABOUT “VIOLETTE WAUTIER”

Since rising to fame in 2013, Violette has garnered national recognition for both her music and acting. In 2018, Violette released her first English single “Drive”, topping various charts across the country. Following this success, she dropped her second single “Smoke”, which went on to break the record for most views for an English song performed by a Thai artist on YouTube with 61 million views. Her music has crossed borders, with “Smoke” also ranking No. 1 on Apple Music Chart in 8 countries, including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and Vietnam

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Thai Life

‘Watching the Thais’ – understanding Thai culture

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‘Watching the Thais’ – understanding Thai culture | The Thaiger

Why does a Thai smile at you after crashing into the back of your car? Why do Thais deplore walking?

The heat, the heat.

What about the weather? Why is everything done as a pack? What is all this ‘face’ stuff about?

Lies? Confrontation? 

Sleeping and shopping?

Just what is it with the Thais? 

What’s it all about?

Author and academic Tom Tuohy answers all these questions and much more in his new book about the Thais and all their quirks. I wish I had read it before I learned the hard way.

“The psychology and general atmosphere whilst using public transport in Thailand is also interesting to think about. When you happen to find yourself on, for example a regular Thai bus, some general considerations need to be noted.

“The same driver will invariably drive as if he has a prior appointment (which he’s only just remembered), with some mysterious benefactor who is going to alter his and his family’s life radically. It is apparently for this reason that he will proceed to slam hard on the brakes at every juncture.

“It amazes me how these drivers wait till the last second to do this, instead of gently easing on the brakes when approaching a junction. What results is a collective surge of passengers moving forward en-masse like an unintentional human, as opposed to Mexican Wave: grandma on her weekly visit to feed the ducks in Lumpini Park gets a new seat on the floor; Somchai, the 7-11 employee gently and apologetically extricates himself from the cleavage of Navaporn, the cute SCB teller; students from nearby colleges hang on for dear life, hoping their hair isn’t messed up and make-up isn’t smudged when they collide with the stainless steel handrails.

“The unflappable ticket-collector, almost always a woman, moves slowly down the bus, click-clacks open and shut her klaxon-like metal pencil case full of five- and one-baht coins, and carries on collecting the money as if nothing ever happened. ‘Mai pen rai!’ the elderly gentleman mumbles in the corner. ‘Amen brother’ I say quietly to myself as I pick myself up off the floor!”

(Watching the Thais, Chapter Three, Thais and Movement , Keep on Walking, Johnny Walker)

If you are one of the forty million or so expected visitors to Thailand this coming year, or an expat interested in moving to the country, this book is a must for you. The book is divided into ten chapters, each one detailing some of the virtues as well as common misconceptions about living and working in Thailand.

Common questions asked by visitors are also dealt with: why do Thais walk so slowly? Why do they like spicy food? Why are they always smiling? Why does nothing seem to upset them?

Towards the end of the book, a series of blogs discuss deeper aspects of living and working in Thailand e.g. the state of Thai education, cross-cultural communication, the Thai floods, marriage to a Thai, and the way the Thai riots in 2010 were presented by the foreign media. If you are planning to spend any length of time in the country and really want to understand the Thai modus operandi, this book will give you a great insight into the uniquely Thai way of thinking and being.

“This is a book I wish I’d read before I went to Thailand for the first time (although it hadn’t been written then). Even now, 23 years later, it taught me things I didn’t know.”

(Timothy Hallinan, author of the Poke Rafferty and Junior Bender series of books)

“Watching the Thais” is a great resource for anyone with an interest in the magnificent kingdom of Thailand. A great read – informative and entertaining.

(James Newman – Author of Bangkok Express and The White Flamingo)

“Though he doesn’t yet qualify as an Old Thailand Hand with two decades in residence, he has lots of personal impressions of the Land of Smiles. Tom, Ajarn Tuohy, is well read on the subject.”

(Bernard Trink, Nite Owl columnist for the Bangkok Post)

To buy the book, click HERE or HERE

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Phuket

‘Leaving Thailand’ – From Phuket with love and heartaches

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‘Leaving Thailand’ – From Phuket with love and heartaches | The Thaiger

“In his new memoir “Leaving Thailand,” a former journalist, film tech and Phuket resident looks back on his life and loves in the kingdom that continue to haunt and inspire him.”

By Jim Algie 

I’m wary of memoirs set in Thailand in which a sex-starved Western man descends on the country to get caught up in the carnal circus of bars, bargirls, sex tourists, wastrels, pleasure-seekers and those eccentric expats I call “Bangkooks”.

But Steve Rosse quickly differentiates himself from the herd in the first story, “A Woman of Bangkok,” by noting how he stumbled upon the famous novel “about a young Englishman who falls in love with a Thai ‘dancing girl’ in Bangkok circa 1950. She takes all his money, breaks his heart, costs him his job, and finally leaves him to a future of failure and bitterness. But despite its turgid plot, the book is brilliantly written. It is a story full of wit, pathos and plain old human drama, and it’s one of my favorite books in the world.” 

I quote this passage at length not only because it sums up the story arc of so many Thailand books, but also because Rosse brings many of the same qualities, like “wit, pathos and plain old human drama,” which are the lynchpins of Jack Reynolds’ book, to these stories. The effect is a fresh take on a hoary genre that quickly morphs into something much more substantial and distinctive.

In the early parts, however, the blow-by-blow descriptions of the harlots-for-hire scene on Phuket around 1990 are tastefully done and largely sympathetic to the women. As a student of both Thai language and culture, Rosse casts himself as both participant and observer. By straddling that divide, he brings plenty of universal observations about life and hedonism to this specific milieu: “Everybody bears some burden of self-loathing, and for some that burden is so heavy they will only allow themselves joy if it’s connected to an act of penance.” 

From the nether regions of Phuket the memoir scales the heights of high-society after the narrator, despondent about breaking up with a bargirl, marries a respectable Thai lady he doesn’t love and starts a family. 

Now working in a five-star hotel, Rosse’s depiction of his life as a PR shill is both candid and comedic: “Normally I would greet a VIP in the lobby and walk him to the dining room, doing the warm up jokes on the way. Find out if the VIP has enough English for the intellectual jokes or if I would need to stick to jokes about farts. Settle in over appetizers and aperitifs, laud the hotel, hand out business cards, and then when the food hit the table ask for my photo opportunity.” 

In one of the most memorable tales in “Leaving Thailand” (available from Amazon as an ebook or paperback), the author develops an unlikely friendship with their young nanny from Myanmar, both of whom have been tyrannized by Steve’s wife. (“A 38 year old man and a 13 year old girl. We were Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot in an empty, sterile, existentialist landscape.”) 

But the story’s strong suit is that it plays out against a far bigger backdrop than the Phuket setting across a much wider swathe of personal history. In 2003, now in Iowa with his wife and children, the author took out a classified ad in The Phuket Gazette to try and track Pui down. The search results were zero.

Along the lines of JD Salinger’s classic short story, from which the title “For Pui with Love and Squalor” is taken, the friendship between Steve and Pui breaks free from the constraints of time and geography to float in a timeless realm. Sure, the particulars may have changed a little, but since maids and nannies from Myanmar remain fixtures throughout Southeast Asia, the story’s huge heart still pulsates with vitality.

In both Thailand and the US, the author covers plenty of ground. He takes a long trip up north to go trekking and smoke opium with a hill-tribe, which used to be a rite of passage for many backpackers. Once again, the story is not without its blackly comic interludes. When the author arrives back at JFK in New York an opium pipe he’d bought as a souvenir and forgotten about falls out on the table when the Customs agent searches his bags. After whisking him off to the back room for a personal search, he writes, “I told God, ‘Dear God, if you keep this cop’s finger out of my ass, I promise I’ll go back to Thailand and study Buddhism.”  

There’s also a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Oliver Stone movie, “Heaven and Earth.” Steve was the Head Set Dresser, and the only foreigner working on a team of nine Thai men. It’s another autobiographical piece in the collection with much grander ambitions than mere diarizing. In one passage he skewers the foreign stereotype of lazy and unreliable Thai male workers; these guys are both diligent and resourceful. In another, he conveys the main drawback of being an expat stranger living in very strange lands.

“And after two years of being the farang in Thailand, always being just outside the conversation, always trying to learn the rules and not accidentally insult anybody, always paying more for everything, it felt good to finally be on the team.” 

For me, the most captivating story is “Cellies.” It starts in Iowa at a high-school graduation party in a bean field, illuminated by the lights of pickup trucks and energized by kegs of beer. Coming home from such a party, similar to one that Rosse attended, a blonde cheerleader is paralyzed for life when her boyfriend rolled his pickup on the way home. 

Dorothy ends up in a nursing home across the street from the house where Steve grew up. After returning from Thailand in 1997 with his wife and two kids he winds up living in the family home again.

The contrast between all the developments in his own life, going to university then working in the film biz in New York, travelling all over Thailand before his bittersweet homecoming, and the details of Dorothy imprisoned in that nursing room, unable to move but still possessing the gifts of speech, sight and hearing, is both a devastating juxtaposition of parallel lives and a considerable feat of empathy for this hapless woman.

Hemingway famously said that the best stories are like icebergs; the biggest parts of them float beneath their surfaces: “The Old Man and the Sea” isn’t just about a fishing trip, right? 

“Cellies” put me in mind of that quote, but also my hometown in Canada and all the old friends who never left. Maybe they were paralyzed by a lack of curiosity about the bigger world or all tied up in the straightjacket of a 30-year mortgage. I don’t know. It’s an open-ended kind of story. Do your own reading and choose your own interpretation.

For the most part, the stories unfold in chronological order. Towards the end, however, the author’s reflections span the vast gulf of nowadays and yesteryears after a return trip he made to Thailand in 2019. 

Full of articulate and realistic stories written with candour and humour, the collection is a worthy non-fiction successor to “A Woman of Bangkok” told by “A Guy on Phuket,” who, despite the book’s title, never really left the kingdom.  

Jim Algie is the author of the nonfiction collection “Bizarre Thailand” and the more recent book of music journalism and literature, “On the Night Joey Ramone Died: Tales of Rock and Punk from Bangkok, New York, Cambodia and Norway.” Both are available from Amazon.

'Leaving Thailand' - From Phuket with love and heartaches | News by The Thaiger

The author, Steve Rosse

'Leaving Thailand' - From Phuket with love and heartaches | News by The Thaiger

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