January 28, 2010

Podcast: Wise Kwai's top 10 Thai films of 2009

I got together with Passakorn (Hong) and Wise Kwai again this week for another episode of Changkhui in English. Last time we talked about Wise Kwai's top 10 Thai films of the decade. This time we looked at the year 2009 in film. You can read Wise Kwai's original top 10 of 2009 post on his Thai Film Journal.

Other topics we touched on include the new film rating system enacted last year, censorship, the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project, and more. All in all the episode is 90 minutes. We did tend to ramble on a bit, but so be it.

You can get the episode from the Changkhui in English page, or download using the direct mp3 link. (See also Wise Kwai's writeup about this episode.)

January 6, 2010

Changkhui in English: Wisekwai's Top 10 Thai Films of the 2000s

The other week when I was a guest on Changkhui, I mentioned afterwards to Passakorn that he should invite Wise Kwai onto the English-language version of his program to talk about his top Thai film picks of the dearly departed decade. If you're interested in Thai film, you probably already know Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal.

Anyhow, we met up this past Sunday evening for 2010's first episode of Changkhui in English.

January 2, 2010

Thai music sampler: A Cappella 7

The other day for no particular reason, a thought popped into my head: whatever happened to the Thai singing group A Cappella 7 (อะ แค็บเปล่า เซเว่น)?

Now, a cappella music has never really caught on in Thailand. Western-style Thai music, known as "string" music, far too often gives us overproduced pop stars who can't really even carry a tune very well. Sound familiar? Happens back home too, of course. But I'm regularly and genuinely amazed at how terrible the singers are on Thai singing talent shows like Academy Fantasia or The Star. And yet many go on to become big stars. Welcome to commercial pop music.

Perhaps it was simply the novelty of it, but when their debut album came out, I immediately liked A Cappella 7. Despite the name, there are only five singers in the group (shades of Ben Folds Five, which was actually a trio). They've had three studio albums, but nothing since a song on a film soundtrack in 2006, that I can find evidence of.

Though only about half of their songs are actually sung a cappella, their best work is, or has only sparse instrumentation. Humor also plays a big part in their music -- singing about cooking omelets, expensive girlfriends, and even *gasp* farting. But I think overall it works. It's a welcome change from the done-to-death themes of 99% of pop music.

Here are my personal favorites from each album:

อะ-แค็บ-เป-ล่า-เซ-เว่น / A Cappella 7 (2002)

ตุ่ม "Tub"

Intention and action are very different things.

ไข่เจียว "Omelet"

Because sometimes you get hungry.

บิ๊ก แดดดี้ / Big Daddy (2003)

รอยตีนกา "Crow's Feet"

Reminding us that there are things worse than showing signs of aging.

ตด "Fart"

A deliciously sophomoric song about who did or didn't do it.

มากกว่านี้ "More"

Cheesy but catchy -- all about pining for a better world.

เม้าท์ ทู เม้าท์ / mouth2mouth (2005)

เรียนไม่เก่ง "Not Good in School"

Teaching us that love doesn't require book smarts.