Yesterday Once More: Tracking (un)Popular Music in Contemporary Myanmar

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The genre copy thachin or "copy song" pervades the popular music scene in Myanmar. These songs are akin to cover versions of existing international hits, but with new lyrics in the Burmese language, and performed by Burmese musicians. These songs can have incredible genre—crossing capabilities, from blues to rap, heavy metal to salsa. The current situation for popular music production in Myanmar is connected with the country's history of military rule and years of censorship and economic difficulties. Advocates for the genre of copy thachin argue that borrowing international songs allowed local artists to learn about global popular music, and the numerous popular musicians and songwriters in Myanmar are testament to this. On the other hand, with the removal of the stringent censorship regime and the increasing contact with international consumer culture, groups of Myanmar music fans are increasingly critical of copy thachin, seeing the practice as derivative and an embarrassment. This article will explore the history of the genre, notions of authenticity, and discuss Myanmar's changing relationship with the symbolic capital of its own culture industry and its relationship with international popular culture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)229-257
    JournalJournal of Burma Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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