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‘One Night In Bangkok’. The song, 35 years later

Tim Newton

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‘One Night In Bangkok’. The song, 35 years later | Thaiger

PHOTO: Doi Kuro, Bangkok 1980

When ‘One Night In Bangkok’ was released in 1984 it was an unlikely hit- the opening song from a (at the time) little-known stage pop-opera called ‘Chess’. The song made Number 1 in South Africa, West Germany, Switzerland and Australia, and Number 3 in Canada and the United States. It has remained a staple of Classic Hit radio ever since. Have a listen below…

The musical was the first outing for the two ‘Bs’ in ABBA – Benny Andersson and Bjoern Ulvaeus. Their pop grooves had made ABBA one of the most famous music groups in the world between 1973 and 1982 with a string of hits including 20 singles in the Billboard Top 100 from eight albums, etc, etc. The lyrics of the song were penned by Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Joseph and his amazing technicolour dreamcoat, Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast).

In the opening song of ‘Chess’, the American chess champion Freddie Trumper gets ready for a chess game with his Russian counterpart. He ridicules Bangkok’s ‘pleasures’ and tourist attractions – the Chao Phraya River (“muddy old river”), Wat Pho (“reclining Buddha”), and the red-light distractions. The choruses are more complimentary.

At the time the sarcasm of the song didn’t go down well with the Thai Mass Communications Organisation (now the NBTC) issuing a ban on the song in 1985, saying its lyrics “cause misunderstanding about Thai society and show disrespect towards Buddhism”, a line still trotted out about inappropriate Instagrammers and their selfies in front of Thai temples.

Thirty-five years later the song still paints a picture of a contrasting ‘oriental’ city alive with lights (including red lights), colour, pungent smells, culture and history.

We’re not sure if the ban was ever lifted but I hear the song played on Thai stations from time to time. At the time, when Bangkok was less on the tourist map than now, the song was a lone reference point for westerners.

How does it stand up thirty-five years after becoming a world-wide hit? Comment on our Facebook Page.

One Night In Bangkok

Bangkok, Oriental setting
And the city don’t know that the city is getting
The creme de la creme of the chess world
In a show with everything but Yul Brynner (referring to the actor’s starring role as the King of Siam in ‘The King and I’)

Time flies, doesn’t seem a minute
Since the Tirolean spa had the chess boys in it
All change don’t you know that when you
Play at this level there’s no ordinary venue
It’s Iceland or the Philippines or Hastings or,
Or this place!

One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you’re lucky then the god’s a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One town’s very like another
When your head’s down over your pieces, brother
It’s a drag, it’s a bore, it’s really such a pity
To be looking at the board, not looking at the city
Whaddya mean?
Ya seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town
Tea, girls, warm, sweet
Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite
Get thai’d, you’re talking to a tourist
Whose every move’s among the purest
I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

Siam’s gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than would a
Muddy old river or reclining Buddha
And thank God I’m only watching the game… controlling it

I don’t see you guys rating
The kind of mate I’m contemplating
I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you
So you better go back to your bars, your temples
Your massage parlours

One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

Songwriters: Tim Rice / Benny Goran Bror Andersson / Bjoern K. Ulvaeus

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Bangkok. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

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.

BTS

K-Pop’s BTS launching pop-up in Bangkok May 1

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K-Pop’s BTS launching pop-up in Bangkok May 1 | Thaiger
PHOTO: BTS can't perform yet, but they are sending their pop-up to Bangkok next month.

Thai BTS fans are celebrating as the first official BTS pop-up in Thailand is set to open in Bangkok on May 1. The world-famous K-Pop group will launch the Map of the Soul pop-up at EmQuartier in Bangkok. Until now, Thai fans, or ARMY as they are known, have waited while pop-ups shops were launched around the world. The exhibit will be open from May 1 to July 25 and access will only be available by pre-registration online, which opens tomorrow.

ARMYs worldwide were devastated when Covid-19 forced the postponement of BTS’s “Map of the Soul” world tour, but the band, famous for their appreciation and interaction with their fans – they hold the Guinness World Record for most Twitter engagement! – have worked to find ways to raise fan morale during the pandemic. They released the album BE with a Grammy-nominated single “Dynamite” and launched these pop-up events where Bangkok ARMYs can pose in front of BTS music video backdrops and shop for official BTS merchandise.

Tickets purchased online will reserve fans a 1 hour visit to the pop-up on a certain date and time slot. Reservations for each week will open on the Friday previous for booking of the event on the M Floor of The EmQuartier. Bookings must arrive 10-15 minutes early and be verified by mobile phone OTP, after which fans will receive a wristband and queue for safe entry.

Strict Covid-19 safety measures will be in place, limiting the number of entries at a time, requiring social distancing and masks, and offering hand sanitiser when entering and exiting.

BTS, the 7-member South Korean boy band formed in 2011 debuted in 2013 and became one of the biggest bands in the world holding 18 Guinness World Records, appearing frequently in Time magazine influence lists, and setting music records on charts around the world. They’ve sold 20 million albums and equalled The Beatles’ record for reaching 4 number 1 albums in the US within one year.

It was estimated their sales account for about the same of South Korea’s entire GDP as Korean Air, being the reason to visit cited by 1 in every 13 tourists, and over 40% of all music sales in the country along with 25% of American K-Pop sales, having the top-selling worldwide physical album of 2020.

BTS have addressed the UN and their endorsements have caused companies and organisations to experience huge jumps in income, including multiple charities they have raised millions for. Their charitable work, devotion to fans, and addressing of difficult topics in their music such as mental health, loss, bullying, individualism and other social commentary have earned BTS praise as more than just your average boy band. Huge turnout is expected for the Bangkok opening of the BTS Map of the Soul pop-up at the EmQuartier next month.

SOURCE: The Smart Local

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 1,470 new Covid-19 infections, 7 deaths, provincial totals

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Covid UPDATE: 1,470 new Covid-19 infections, 7 deaths, provincial totals | Thaiger
Photo via Facebook/ศูนย์ข้อมูล COVID-19

1,470 new Covid-19 infections and 7 deaths were reported today by the CCSA. 446 new cases are in Bangkok which remains the hotzone of new infections, although the latest outbreak has now spread to most Thai provinces. Out of the 7 deaths, one was a 24 year old Thai woman with a history of visiting an entertainment venue in the southern province Surat Thani where other Covid-19 infections were reported.

The young woman’s death is a rare case as the vast majority of Covid-related deaths in Thailand are the elderly or older adults with pre-existing conditions. Health officials say the woman suffered from obesity and died 3 days after testing positive for the virus. At present, there are 18,148 patients in state care… 14,555 in hospitals and 3,593 in field hospitals.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 48,113 Covid-19 infections and 117 coronavirus-related deaths.

The other Covid-related fatalities include…

  • 68 year old Thai woman with pre-existing conditions of asthma
  • 83 year old man from Bangkok with pre-existing conditions of high blood pressure
  • 80 year old woman with pre-existing conditions of diabetes
  • 45 year old woman in Bangkok with high blood pressure
  • 59 year old man in Bangkok with pre-existing conditions of diabetes
  • 86 year old man in Bangkok with pre-existing conditions of heart disease

Here are the provincial totals for today, as published by the NBT…

Covid UPDATE: 1,470 new Covid-19 infections, 7 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

Covid UPDATE: 1,470 new Covid-19 infections, 7 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: CCSA | Pattaya News | Nation Thailand

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Bangkok

Police officer infected with Covid-19 commits suicide at hospital

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Police officer infected with Covid-19 commits suicide at hospital | Thaiger
Screenshot/ Police Online

A police officer infected with Covid-19 killed himself yesterday at a Bangkok hospital. The Royal Thai Police spokesperson says 59 year old Boonchu Panklin committed suicide due to stress after testing positive for the virus.

The railway police deputy inspector was also diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension. He tested positive for Covid-19 after coming in contact with another patient. At first, Boonchu was asymptomatic and was admitted to a field hospital on Sunday.

The next day, he had difficulty breathing and his blood oxygen levels were low. He was transferred to another building. A police spokesperson has the medical staff did not know about the officer’s mental health issues. On Tuesday, he hung himself in the hospital bathroom. After numerous calls to Boonchu’s phone went unanswered, hospital staff looked for the officer and found him by the toilet with a belt tied around his neck.

The officer’s family needed to quarantine after he tested positive for the virus and the chief of the Pathumwan police station, Pansa Amarapitak, says the officer felt guilty for putting his mother, wife and child at risk of infection.

Anyone in Thailand who feels depressed, lonely or suicidal can call the Samaritans of Thailand: 02-713-6793 for Thai and 02-713-6790 for English.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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