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Foreign language Number One songs – rare indeed

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Foreign language Number One songs – rare indeed | The Thaiger
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The lack of non-English music is a constant in the US, and most other English-speaking markets. The world music industry has been a tightly controlled clique for decades with record labels having the power to determine which artists ever make it onto the charts.

The selection of foreign music Number One hits in the American charts, for example, is tiny. Understandable, mostly because, well, the lyrics are in a foreign language. The situation isn’t much different in the other big English-speaking charts around the world.

Since 1958, when the Billboard Hot 100 started being compiled, there have been more than a thousand Number 1 songs. Only seven haven’t been in English. For the ones that aren’t in English, three of the others have been in Spanish, the second most spoken language in the US with 41 million citizens describing Spanish as their native language.

This small club is likely to get a lot more members now that the power is being taken out of the hands of the larger music companies and their chosen producer, and now being put fairly and squarely in the hands of the listeners and fans. To say the music ‘business’ is going through a sea-change is an understatement. The power of fans to download, share and discuss their musical tastes is a powerful new business model for the dissemination of music.

And if you don’t have a kick-arse video to accompany your music these days, forget about it.

Whilst the larger music companies still play a part, their grip on the tastes of millions is dwindling rapidly.

But with all these changes, a democratization of world music, comes the challenges of finding a new, workable, fair business models that will reward the writers, producers and performers. There is still a long way to go as we settle into the new paradigm.

But kudos to this small club, who could probably hold their meetings in a large phone booth, who reached the Number One position in an industry that was hostile towards languages other than English.

1958: “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu” by Domenico Modugno

You know it as ‘Volare’. Despite the lack of non-English songs on the Billboard Hot 100, this Italian song was the number-one song of the year the very first year the Billboard list was made. The song won the Sanremo Music Festival and was Italy’s 1958 entry into Eurovision, a massively popular music contest in Europe (and Australia… go figure). While the song didn’t win Eurovision, it was incredibly successful all around the world, and was on the top of the charts for a total of five weeks. It even won the first-ever Grammy for “Song of the Year.”

1963: “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto

Not only non-English, but also non-European language. The first and only Asian-language song to hit Number One spot (not even Psy’s mega hit ‘Gangnam Style’ reached the Number One spot). “Sukiyaki” is somewhat of an unexpected success. The song was wildly popular in Japan with the title “Ue o Muite Arukō,” which directly translates to “I Look Up As I Walk.” The name “Sukiyaki” was chosen for the English version for some reason, even though Sukiyaki is the name of a Japanese beef dish that has nothing to do with the song.

1963: “Dominique” by The Singing Nun

Achieving success shortly after “Sukiyaki,” this song is also a surprise hit, especially when compared to the songs that would reach the number-one spot in the coming years of the British invasion. Sung by Jeannine Deckers, a French-speaking nun from Belgium, the song is about Saint Dominic, who founded the Dominican Order she was a member of. Some say this song may have become a hit on the radio because DJs were desperate for pleasant music to play in the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The song was number one for four weeks in December 1963.

Then a LONG gap, until…

1986: “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco

After a 23 year hiatus with no foreign-language number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, “Rock Me Amadeus” showed up to reign for three weeks in the spring of 1986. The song is about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Falco, born Johann Hölzel, was a classically trained musician who rejected his upbringing to play rock music. The song is in German (except for the “Rock Me” part), but the words didn’t really matter. The driving beat and repetitive “Amadeus, Amadeus” chorus were enough to make this song a staple of the 1980s.

1987: “La Bamba” by Los Lobos

The history of “La Bamba” goes back further than the 1987 version by Los Lobos. It was originally a Mexican folk song, with the earliest known recording being from 1938. In 1958, it was turned into a rock-and-roll hit by Ritchie Valens, who was only 17 years old at the time. The song was the first time that Mexican music had a big impact on the US music industry. At the time, it only reached number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100, however. It wasn’t until 1987 that the song reached number one and held that position for three weeks.

1996: “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” by Los Del Rio

Los Del Rio is perhaps the most famous example of a one-hit wonder, thanks to “Macarena,” which stayed on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks. You’ll notice, however, that this is the Bayside Boys Mix version of the song, which happens to include the English verses instead of the Spanish ones. The original version of this song, which has only Spanish lyrics, also ranked on the Billboard list, but it was not as successful as the English one. And if you’re over 30-ish you’ll, sadly, remember the dance.

2017: “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, Feat. Justin Bieber

It took another 21 years for another non-English song to top the charts, and that brings us to 2017’s “Despacito.” The song was on the top of the charts for 16 weeks in 2017, tying “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men for longest reign. The song is one of the most successful Latin songs in history. Surely Justin Bieber’s star power at the time had something to do with this, though Daddy Yankee has had success with two other songs — “Gasolina” and “Rompe” — on the charts.

It likely won’t take another two decades for more foreign-language music to climb the charts in the US. Just keep the band ‘BTS’ – K-Pop’s cross-over sensation – on your radar. Their latest collaboration with EDM-supremo Steve Aoki, just released, is likely to hit the Number One position in the US charts. The twist here is that the song is entirely in English, a first for the South Korean band, currently re-writing records around the world for sell-out concerts and social-media popularity. Fans from around the world scream out the lyrics, in Korean! Things have changed forever. UPDATE: On the first day of its release the song “Waste It On Me” topped the iTunes download list.

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World

Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies – May the force be with him

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Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies – May the force be with him | The Thaiger

“…his swish with the black cape and his screen presence in the foreboding, shiny black high-tech exoskeleton won him a legion of fans.”

Darth Vader has died… May the force be with him. The man who played the bad guy in the first Star Wars trilogy, British actor David Prowse, died at the age of 85 after a short illness.

American actor Mark Hamill, who played Darth Vader’s son, Luke Skywalker, alongside with David and the initial cast of the epic saga, sent his condolences in a tweet.

“So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader.”

“Actor-Husband-Father-Member of the Order of the British Empire-3 time British Weightlifting Champion & Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him. #RIP”

Star Wars co-star, and fellow Brit, Anthony Daniels, who played the gold-plated and effusive C3PO in all but one of the 12 Star Wars instalments, paid tribute to Prowse’s contribution to the saga.

“Dave’s iconic figure dominated the finished film in ’77 and has done so ever since.”

David wore the ominous black suit and helmet to play the Star Wars villain Darth Vader although it was the American actor James Earl Jones who provided the character’s voice in post-production. George Lucas felt that David’s West Country English accent was “unsuitable for the part”. The decision to replace David’s voice caused a long-term rift between actor and director that eventually saw David cut out of official Star Wars publicity events. But his swish with the black cape and his screen presence in the foreboding shiny black high-tech exoskeleton won him a legion of fans.

Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies - May the force be with him | News by The Thaiger

David’s career as an actor spanned 50 years, but it was his role as the Sith Lord in Star Wars that brought him international fame and attention.

But it was his role as the “Green Cross Code Man” from a British road safety campaign that Prowse said he was most proud of. David was awarded an MBE, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, in 2000 for that role.

David Prowse was born into a working class family and grew up in a council estate in Southmead, in southwestern England. He gained a scholarship to attend Bristol Grammar School. He had a passion for bodybuilding and was crowned British Weightlifting Champion several times in the 1960s. He became lifelong friends with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger in his weightlifting years.

His towering figure helped land him roles as monsters and villains in TV shows and films. He played the monster in “The Horror of Frankenstein” in 1970 and a bearded torturer in “Carry on Henry” in 1971. That same year he made an appearance as a bodyguard in Stanley Kubrick’s dystopian film “A Clockwork Orange” in 1971. He went on to play Darth Vader in all three of the original “Star Wars” films, in 1977, 1980 and 1983.

With the success of Star Wars, Prowse became a regular on the fan circuit and attended conventions around the world for almost 40 years, but he was rumoured to have later fallen out with director Lucas and was banned from official events in 2010.

He published an autobiography, “Straight from the Force’s Mouth,” in 2011.

SOURCES: Reuters | CNN | BBC

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Chiang Rai

Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia

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Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The entrance to the real Tham Luang cave near the Myanmar border in far north Thailand

The Australian Government is putting up A$13 million to Imagine Entertainment and film giant MGM to shoot a live-action feature film called Thirteen Lives, based on the Chiang Rai Tham Luang cave rescue story. The film will be shot in Queensland, Australia in the hinterland areas behind the Gold Coast.

The film will be directed by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The Da Vince Code, Cocoon, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Splash, Frost/Nixon), and start filming in March 2021. The state’s Gold Coast hinterland will double for Thailand with a similar hot, humid climate.

The Australian Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP, says the production should inject more than A$96 million into the Australian economy, “directly creating around 435 jobs for cast and crew”.

Thirteen Lives will tell the remarkable story of the effort by many volunteers, including Australians, to undertake an incredibly complex rescue. And I am proud to say that this story will be told here in Australia.”

“I understand this project will also undertake a significant amount of cutting-edge visual effects work here, a great opportunity for our local post, digital and visual effects companies.”

Thirteen Lives follows the true story of the 2018 Tham Laung cave rescue of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team, trapped in a cave by heavy rain and flooding in Chiang Rai, far north Thailand. After the team was stuck for days with no supplies and falling oxygen levels, a group of diving and rescue experts from all over the world were called up to work together with their Thai counterparts to save the 13 young men. Among those experts were a group of divers from the United Kingdom and Australia.

The first major feature film about the rescue operation was The Cave, released in October 2019. The film was quite critical of the Thai red-tape which hampered much of the early rescue efforts.

Ron Howard has worked with plenty of Australians in the past.

“From Thirteen Lives to the animated projected I am directing with Animal Logic in Australia, I am excited about the opportunity to film and work in Australia and dramatically expand on that list of collaborators whose sensibilities and work ethic I have long admired and respected.”

Imagine Entertainment and MGM’s Thirteen Lives will be distributed by Universal Pictures International.

Watch a message from director Ron Howard HERE.

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Thailand

Covid tourism standstill gives Thailand’s southern sea gypsies a break

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Covid tourism standstill gives Thailand’s southern sea gypsies a break | The Thaiger

Phuket’s sea gypsy communities are getting a much needed break after the Covid tourism standstill have their traditions a break from the tourism onslaught. 42 year old Sanan Changham says now there is an abundance of fish and shellfish to eat. Tourist boats have been docked at the quay, making fishing easier for the Chao Lay, or “people of the sea.“

“We don’t dive as deep as before, so it’s less dangerous.“

More than 9 million visitors came to Phuket in 2019, impacting the sea gypsies and their way of life, mostly located at the southern end of the island. The booming tourism brought a decline in fish stocks, decreasing fishing grounds and loud construction of hotels. And the traffic. Such hotels signal an even bigger threat to the 1,200 Chao Lay in Rawai, as property developers have tried to evict them from their ancestral strip of land that faces the sea.

Ngim Damrongkaset, a Rawai community representative, says he hopes the area where developers have taken a stake is abandoned.

“They want to drive us out of our homes, but also to deny us access to the sea.”

For the Chao Lay people, the fight to keep their land has been unequal as most are illiterate and were unaware of the fact that they could register their land, but the government is trying to help them. One way for authorities to buy the land and entrust it to them.

Narumon Arunotai, an anthropologist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, says the government must seize the opportunity provided by the pandemic to rethink their vision on Chao Lay.

“Covid is an opportunity to change mentalities. Mass tourism in Phuket has been a catastrophe for the sea gypsies.“

The land in Rawai was originally claimed by Indonesian ancestors of Sanan, before the island became flooded with international travellers. But since tourism has become more profitable, authorities have cracked down on the sea gypsies unless they are sailing in protected marine reserves.

“Before, we risked being arrested by a patrol or having our boats confiscated.“

For the animist Chao Lay the beach is a vital space where they keep their colourful wooden boats and where they pray and give thanks to their ancestors. But not only their unique cultural heritage has helped them navigate the waters.

The Chao Lay people are experts at detecting any abnormalities in the water, as such they were able to escape before the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami hit, while saving loads of tourists. Furthermore, Children of the Moken have 50% better visual acuity in the water than their European counterparts, according to a 2003 study.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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