Last year I was invited to deliver a short lecture to a musicology class at Texas Tech University (my thanks to Christopher Hepburn for the kind invitation!).
As I am not an ethnomusicologist, I decided to present a lecture exploring how the idol industries of Japan and South Korea have impacted recent Thai cultural production. I situated this within a broader history of the reception of East Asian popular culture and transformations in music production and fandom in Thailand. In the lecture, I discussed Thai idol groups such as Golf & Mike, SBFIVE, and BNK48.
Me being me, of course I also include Thai BL series and celebrity within this historical narrative. Focusing my attention on the “queer idol couples” and “BL Machine” developed by GMM Grammy, I reveal that one of the biggest impacts on contemporary Thai popular music is the rise of Boys Love media in the kingdom.
I argue that the emergence of Thai BL is the endpoint of the historical adaption of K-pop to the Thai popular musicscape and reflect on how this is driving the contemporary Thai consumer economy. Importantly, I explore how the technological affordances of applications developed to support the global K-pop industry are being utilised to expand the transnational potentials of GMM Grammy’s BL Machine.
You can watch a recording here.