At the turn of the century, we saw the first inklings of the Hallyu Wave phenomenon: where Korean dramas, K-pop and South Korea’s variety programmes started to enter our mainstream sphere—with their fans sprouting amongst us. And just a few years later, it transformed into a flourishing economy that sparked international attention, with some idols even inspiring the younger generation to make their own break into the K-pop industry. Not limited to South Koreans, Nichkhun of 2PM was the first ever Thai K-pop idol to debut—notably leading the way for the current set that includes GOT7’s BamBam, Blackpink’s Lisa and Minnie of (G)I-DLE.
Coupled with the global boom of K-pop, the inclusion of their local folk into the ever-growing community of K-idols inevitably serves up inspiring motivation for the local pop scene in Thailand; as considerable proof for how language is no barrier to the enjoyment of good music. But if K-pop has figured out its tour de force—of addictive refrains, high-energy dance performances and charismatic styling on the stage—the golden formula of what might work for Thai pop still remains to be seen, considering it is a genre that is still very much in its nascent stages of international popularity, although brimming with potential.
In recent years however, the rise of certain Thai dramas have undeniably turned heads towards their local entertainment scene. Think popular dramas such as 2gether and F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers—both of which are screen homes to the country’s most recognisable names, Bright Vachirawit and Win Metawin. Both actors take up a good slice of the soundtrack pie in both dramas, capturing fans’s attention and understandably bringing more ears to their local sound. And elsewhere? Rising Thai musicians are making waves in their own way. Milli, for one, has even played the major festival stages such as Coachella and Head In The Clouds in Los Angeles earlier this year.
So should you be looking to dip your toes into the world of Thai music, we’ve put together an eclectic range of artists you can consider giving a listen to—before deciding if it’s your cup of tea. Who knows? You just might catch on to something great.
1 / 5
Whilst the group switches between alternative rock and the occasional indie riff, Tilly Birds makes for a splendid introduction to the local music scene in Thailand. The trio consisting of Billy, Third and Milo first came together in 2010 and have been rocking it out on stage with a show of their versatility. One minute they’re leaning into their notable rock sound with ‘Unwanted’ and the next, they’re enchanting the audience with their upbeat choruses for ‘Same Page?’. For those looking for a softer, more lovelorn track instead, hit ‘Until Then’ for an easy, melodic listen that sings of a relatable narrative at its centre.
2 / 5
Milli’s fame has undoubtedly skyrocketed in the recent months—being the first Thai solo artist to perform at Coachella earlier this year. The 19-year-old musician is known for her hard-hitting, explosive rap lyrics that are honest to the core, demonstrating how she remains unapologetically herself in her musical expression. Earlier this year, Milli had also joined hands with international superstar Jackson Wang—debuting their track ‘Mind Games’ on the Head In The Clouds stage together in Los Angeles. For a more light-hearted entry point, try ’17 mins’, which also features another Thai pop duo: mints.
3 / 5
When it comes to genre stalwarts, Stamp is one name to know. Now with nearly 18 years on his belt, the Thai singer-songwriter has been behind a slew of industry hits and have become somewhat of a household name to the country. A former member of bands 7thScene and KLuayThai, the singer has worked on a wide range of tracks from soundtracks for popular Thai films to entire albums done in English such as stampsth, which was produced for international release in Japan.
4 / 5
Making his mark as a singer-songwriter with an addictive sound, Patrickananda is not just self-made but also undeniably talented in the studio. His first debut single, ‘polaroid’ was an immediate success when it was released in 2020: a show of his ability to lean into the slow, smooth acoustics of his musical instrument on hand. Earlier this year, he also released his first EP Lavndr—consisting of popular hits ‘Lavender’ and ‘Oasis’, the former a nod to the R&B influences in his music.
5 / 5
On the rise for both his acting and singing, Billkin is one to watch in the Thai entertainment scene. Whilst he first started gaining popularity for his role in popular drama My Ambulance in 2019, his love for singing soon led him to make his official solo debut back in 2020 with ‘Kod Nai Jai’ that sang of the growing sentiments of distraught and isolation during the pandemic. His scintillating melodies shine through the best in a number of soundtracks he released for the drama series I Told The Sunset About You.