I Was Cool When My Country Wasn't: "Mao" and "Deng" Making Transnational Music in the Golden Triangle

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    Abstract

    While popular culture flows in Myanmar have begun to attract greater critical attention, the significance of ethnic minority performance and representation in these productions is largely unexamined. This article discusses the political and economic networks behind the stardom of the ethnic Shan singer Sai Sai Mao. Many of his songs are copy thachin, or Burmese cover renditions of international songs, including several popularized by the Taiwanese superstar Teresa Teng, which, in turn, were often appropriations of songs and styles from Japanese enka. Tracing the history of these cover renditions reveals not only the transnational character of music itself but also the subnational geopolitical relationships that existed during the Cold War years in mainland Southeast Asia. Both singers demonstrate that popular success in an otherwise hostile political climate also depended on symbolic flexibility, anodyne sweetness, and transnational glamour.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)114-137
    JournalAsian Music
    Volume47
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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