T-POP: No one can stop the wave of Thai pop

TUESDAY, JUNE 04, 2024

The T-POP wave in Thailand is a never-ending current, continuously evolving through various eras. This article explores the rich history and transformative journey of Thai Pop music, or T-POP, highlighting its enduring influence on the Thai music industry.

From the Pioneering era of the 70s and 80s, marked by the transition from vinyl records to cassette tapes, to the Flourishing golden age of the 90s, where international influences melded seamlessly with Thai sounds. We then move to the Pinnacle of T-POP's development between 2000 and 2010, characterized by the dominance of CDs and record-breaking sales. Finally, we arrive at the Present-day T-Pop, where digital streaming has democratized music creation and consumption, allowing everyone the opportunity to become an artist. Join us as we journey through these defining eras of T-POP, each contributing to its vibrant and dynamic legacy.

The evolution of T-POP can be explored through four distinct yet seamlessly connected eras.[1]

T-POP: No one can stop the wave of Thai pop


The pioneering era marks the significant transition from vinyl records to cassette tapes. This period witnessed the initial flourishing of the T-POP industry, with the emergence of numerous record labels and the rise of new artists. During the 70s and 80s, Thai people still enjoyed traditional genres like Luk Krung and Luk Thung, but there was a growing interest in a new wave of music influenced by Western pop and rock.

Several major record labels were established during this era, some of which have endured the test of time: RS (est. 1976), Sure Audio (est. 1977), Music Train (est. 1979), Nititad Promotion (est. 1982), GMM Grammy (est. 1983), Kita Records (est. 1986), PGM (est. 1987), and Topline Music (est. 1989).

Prominent artists of this era include, among others:

•    The Impossible: One of Thailand's earliest rock bands, known for their fusion of rock and traditional Thai music. Their first album was released around 1969, marking them as pioneers in the Thai music scene.

•    Grand EX: A prominent band that released their first single collection around 1977. They contributed to the evolution of Thai pop music with their unique sound and style.

•    Sao Sao Sao: A female trio that gained fame with their first album released around 1982. They captivated audiences with their catchy pop tunes and dynamic performances.

•    Rockestra: Known for their medley albums, Rockestra emerged as a significant force in the Thai music industry in the early 1980s. Their innovative approach to blending different musical styles garnered widespread acclaim.

•    Keereeboon: Released their first album around 1983, Keereeboon made a name for themselves with their melodic ballads and captivating stage presence.

•    Nantida Kaewbuasai: A prominent female singer who released her first album with GMM around 1984. Known for her powerful voice and emotional depth, Nantida became a beloved figure in the Thai music scene.

•    Thongchai McIntyre: Also known as Bird Thongchai, he released his first album around 1986. Thongchai quickly rose to fame with his versatile singing style and charismatic stage persona, becoming one of Thailand's most beloved pop stars.

•    Micro: Released their first album around 1986, Micro brought a fresh sound to the Thai music scene with their energetic performances and catchy pop melodies.

•    Asanee-Wasan: Released their first album around 1986, Asanee-Wasan gained widespread popularity with their fusion of rock, pop, and traditional Thai music elements. They became known for their socially conscious lyrics and powerful performances.

•    Nuvo: Released their first album around 1988, Nuvo made waves with their innovative approach to pop music, blending electronic and acoustic elements to create a unique sound that resonated with audiences.

T-POP: No one can stop the wave of Thai pop

Television programs played a crucial role in promoting T-POP during this era. During the early period of "Loke Don Tree" [2] (1971 - 1981), also known as "Pop On Stage" in English, the program primarily featured live performances by nightclub bands, both Thai and foreign. Originally broadcast once a month, its popularity led to bi-monthly broadcasts. As the music industry matured with the establishment of record labels, the program became a platform for newly released songs, with a requirement for all musicians to perform live, eschewing lip-syncing. This policy attracted numerous singers and musicians, further elevating the program's status.

In 1983, "Loke Don Tree" underwent a significant transformation in response to the growing demand for Thai songs, transitioning to regular Sunday broadcasts at noon. By 1983, the program had outgrown its studio venue and moved to a large outdoor stage in the station's parking lot. The Pink Panther band and Nantida Kaewbuasai concert became the premier show on this new outdoor stage, signaling a new era of live music entertainment on television. This transition from studio to outdoor venue transformed "Loke Don Tree" into a cultural phenomenon, solidifying its position as a leading platform for Thai pop music. 

The program's evolution continued in 1984 with a substantial investment to create a permanent outdoor stage behind the broadcast studio building, named "Larn Loke Don Tree." The redesigned stage, adorned according to the performing artists' styles, marked a new chapter for the program. With a budget exceeding 500,000 baht, the stage became a fixture for live performances, cementing "Loke Don Tree" as a cornerstone of Thai music television. Its popularity soared, making it one of Thailand's top 20 most-watched television programs. "Loke Don Tree" set the standard for concert programs, inspiring similar initiatives across other channels.

The "7 Color Concert" [3] program, which aired from 1986 to 2015, exemplified the flourishing T-POP scene in the 1990s. Broadcasting live performances held at a regular site every Saturday, the program showcased a diverse array of artists and singers, both solo and in groups. Its format allowed for the inclusion of celebrity actors from Channel 7, enhancing its appeal to a broader audience.

Featuring notable performances from artists, singers, actors, and musicians who graced the stage, such as Pumpuang Duangchan, Sirintra Niyakorn, Kittikun Chiansong, Nantida Kaewbuasai, Keereebun Band, Opas Tossaporn, Pen Payom Ruangroj, Thai Heritage Artist Group, Maneenuch Smerasut, Naratip Kanchanawat, Suchart Chawangkul, Maleewan Jemina, Charat Fueang-Arom, 18 Karat Group, Sao Sao Sao, and Jarunee Suksawat, among others. The band Hot2Trot joined in playing music throughout the program. The "7 Color Concert" became a staple for music enthusiasts, with foreign artists and singers occasionally gracing the stage, including Michael Learns to Rock, Ricky Martin, Mandy Moore, Lin Ziying, and Jackie Chan. The program's iconic logo, resembling a musical note with two gold legs, symbolized its vibrant and dynamic nature.

Throughout its run, "7 Color Concert" adapted to various challenges, including venue changes due to events like major floods and coup d'états. Despite these disruptions, the program remained resilient, showcasing the resilience of the Thai music industry during the 1990s. Its influence extended beyond television, shaping the cultural landscape and setting the stage for T-POP's continued evolution into the digital age.

T-POP: No one can stop the wave of Thai pop


As the 1980s gave way to the 1990s, T-POP entered a period often referred to as the golden age of cassette tapes. This era experienced tremendous growth and transformation in the music industry, with music becoming more international and seamlessly blending Western influences with traditional Thai sounds. This period is particularly cherished by Gen Y, who presently comprise the majority of the working-age population.

Numerous record labels emerged during the 90s, contributing to the diversity and richness of T-POP: Four'S Thailand (est. 1993), Bakery Music (est. 1994), Grammy Gold (est. 1995), Music Bugs (est. 1996), Dojo City Corp. (est. 1998), Music Cream (est. 1998), Small Room (est. 1999), and Up^G (est. 1999).

Famous artists and bands of this era include, but not limited to:

•    Patiparn Patavekarn: A popular singer-songwriter who released his debut album in 1992, known for his melodic ballads.

•    Stone Metal Fire: A rock band that debuted in the early 1990s, known for their hard-hitting rock sound.

•    Modern Dog: A pioneering alternative rock band that released their first album in 1994, known for their innovative music and influential role in the Thai rock scene.

•    UHT: A boy band that debuted in the mid-1990s, known for their harmonized pop songs.

•    Raptor: A pop duo that gained fame in the mid-1990s, known for their catchy dance-pop tunes.

•    Tata Young: A pop singer who released her debut album in 1995 at the age of 15, known for her powerful voice and crossover appeal.

•    Ruangsak Loychusak: A pop singer who debuted in the mid-1990s, known for his romantic ballads.

•    Loso: A rock band that debuted in the mid-1990s, known for their gritty rock sound and socially conscious lyrics.


The early 2000s marked the peak of the T-POP industry, characterized by the rise of CDs, VCDs, and DVDs as the dominant formats for music distribution. This era saw the release of some of the highest-selling albums in Thai music history, including Bird Thongchai McIntyre's "Choot Rub Kaek" [4] (2002), which became the best-selling album of all time in Thailand, with sales exceeding 5 million copies and reaching 1 million copies within just three weeks.

New record labels continued to emerge, reflecting the dynamic nature of the industry: Aborigins (est. 2002), LOVEiS (est. 2004), Spicydisc (est. 2004), RS Music (RS sub-label) (est. 2004), True Fantasia (est. 2005), Sanamluang Music (est. 2005), and KamiKaze (est. 2007).

Prominent artists of this era include, to name a few:

•    Big Ass: A rock band that released their debut album in 1997, known for their energetic rock anthems.

•    Silly Fools: A rock band that released their first full album in 1998, known for their alternative rock sound.

•    Kala: A rock band that debuted in 1999, known for their catchy rock songs.

•    D2B: A boy band that debuted in 2001, known for their pop ballads and immense popularity.

•    Clash: A rock band that released their debut album in 2001, known for their emotional rock ballads.

•    Potato: A rock band that debuted in 2001, known for their versatile music style and heartfelt lyrics.

•    Bodyslam: A rock band that released their first album in 2002, known for their dynamic performances and deep lyrics.

•    Golf-Mike: A pop duo that debuted in 2005, known for their catchy pop tunes and charismatic performances.

T-POP: No one can stop the wave of Thai pop



The Thai music industry today is a vibrant and dynamic ecosystem characterized by its adaptability and innovation. Digital platforms dominate the scene, with streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and local platforms such as Joox and App Plern facilitating easy access to a vast array of music. These platforms have democratized music consumption, allowing listeners to explore genres and artists beyond the mainstream. Live music remains a significant aspect of the industry, with festivals such as the Big Mountain Music Festival and Wonderfruit attracting large audiences and showcasing both established and emerging artists. Moreover, social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok play crucial roles in artist promotion and fan engagement, creating new avenues for music discovery and interaction. This digital-centric landscape has redefined the industry, making it more inclusive and interconnected than ever before.


This era is characterized by increased accessibility and democratization of music production, allowing anyone to become an artist through platforms like YouTube. SoundCloud, known for its user-friendly interface and wide range of independent artists, allows musicians to upload, promote, and share their music with a global audience.

Spotify, as one of the largest music streaming platforms globally, offers users access to millions of songs, podcasts, and playlists, and provides tools for artists to distribute their music and reach new listeners. Similarly, Apple Music offers a vast library of music for streaming and downloading, with features like Apple Music Connect enabling artists to engage directly with fans.

Bandcamp empowers independent musicians to sell their music directly to fans, set their prices, offer free downloads, and sell merchandise alongside their music. Twitch, originally a platform for live streaming video games, has expanded to include music streaming, where musicians can perform live concerts, interact with fans, and monetize their content.

Instagram has become a popular platform for musicians to share behind-the-scenes content, live performances, and music videos with their followers, through features like IGTV and Instagram Live. TikTok's short-form video format has propelled songs to viral success, making it a powerful platform for music discovery and promotion, especially among younger audiences.

Facebook offers various tools for musicians, including Facebook Live for live streaming performances, Facebook Pages for artist profiles, and Facebook Groups for building communities of fans. X allows musicians to share updates, engage with fans, and promote their music through tweets, hashtags, and multimedia content.

ReverbNation provides tools for musicians to promote their music, book shows, and connect with industry professionals, while also offering features for distributing music to streaming services. This era offers unprecedented opportunities for new artists, as they no longer need to be affiliated with major record labels to achieve fame.

Many artists have found success by independently releasing their music online, leveraging digital platforms to reach global audiences without traditional gatekeepers. Additionally, collaborations between major labels, such as the GMM x RS partnership, reflect a significant shift from competition to cooperation within the industry. This collaborative approach fosters innovation and expands the reach of Thai music. In this era, the accessibility of technology and online platforms has democratized music production and distribution, empowering individuals to share their creativity with the world. Truly, anyone can be an artist today.


Contemporary Thai artists who have gained prominence in this era encompass a diverse range of talents and genres, reflecting the dynamic nature of the Thai music scene. BamBam (Kunpimook Bhuwakul), known as a member of the South Korean boy band GOT7, has also found success as a solo artist in Thailand, showcasing his versatility and musical prowess. Similarly, Lisa (Lalisa Manoban), a member of the South Korean girl group BLACKPINK, has garnered international acclaim for her singing, rapping, and dancing talents, captivating audiences worldwide.

Meanwhile, Milli (Danupha Khanatheerakul) has emerged as a rising star in the Thai music industry, known for her bold lyrics and unique style as a rapper and singer. The idol group BNK48, modeled after Japan's AKB48, has made waves with their large member roster and pop idol performances, captivating audiences with their infectious energy and catchy tunes.

TRINITY, a Thai boy band, has captured the hearts of fans with their polished performances and diverse music styles, adding a fresh perspective to the local music scene. Mixing with established acts like Scrubb, known for their catchy melodies and heartfelt lyrics blending pop and rock influences, showcases the ongoing evolution and innovation within Thai music.

While these artists represent just a fraction of the vibrant Thai music landscape, there are many more talented individuals making their mark on the industry, each bringing their own unique style and perspective to the forefront, contributing to the tunes of modern Thai audiences. Getsunova continues to captivate audiences with their soulful vocals and relatable lyrics, earning a dedicated fanbase across Thailand. Phum Viphurit's indie-pop sound has garnered international acclaim, making him a rising star in the global music scene with his smooth vocals and laid-back vibes. LABANOON's energetic performances and anthemic songs have solidified their status as one of Thailand's most beloved rock bands, while Mild's powerful voice and dynamic stage presence have made her one of the country's top female vocalists. Twopee Southside pushes the boundaries of Thai hip-hop with sharp lyrics and infectious beats, earning critical acclaim in the process.

Stamp Apiwat's soulful voice and introspective lyrics resonate with audiences, establishing him as a leading figure in Thailand's acoustic music scene. Billkin, Earth Patravee, and Gunn Junhavat each bring their own unique style and perspective to the Thai music landscape, contributing to its rich tapestry of sounds and experiences. Additionally, the contributions of Lula, Da Endorphine, Palmy, F. Hero, Musketeers, Slot Machine, Peck Palitchoke, Singto Numchok, Cocktail, Tilly Birds, Bedroom Audio, 25 Hours, The Parkinson, Atom Chanakan, Muzu, and many others further exemplify the diversity and innovation within the T-Pop landscape. Each artist adds their distinct flavor to the music scene, enriching it with their talents and creativity.

T-POP: No one can stop the wave of Thai pop


Nationally famous music events offer a vibrant array of music festivals catering to diverse tastes and interests. Renowned events like the Big Mountain Music Festival provide a platform for both established and emerging artists to showcase their talents. Drawing large crowds, this festival serves as a celebration of Thailand's music culture, highlighting the richness of T-POP while fostering connections between artists and audiences.

Additionally, festivals such as the Wonderfruit Festival stand out as annual celebrations that blend music, art, and sustainable living. Attracting both international and local artists, Wonderfruit promotes cultural exchange and creative expression in a unique setting that encourages environmental awareness and community engagement.

During the Thai New Year, the S20 Songkran Music Festival ignites excitement with its mix of top DJs, electronic dance music, and water-based festivities. This event offers a vibrant celebration of music and culture, infusing traditional festivities with modern entertainment to create a lively and memorable experience for attendees.

Indie music enthusiasts find solace in the Maho Rasop Festival, an international independent music festival based in Bangkok. With its eclectic curation focused on quality live performances, Maho Rasop emphasizes diverse music genres and immersive experiences from both international and Thai artists, providing a platform for emerging talent and fostering a vibrant indie music scene.

Moreover, the Bangkok Music City Festival encompasses the city in a celebration of local artists and the Thai music scene. Through live performances, conferences, and workshops, this city-wide event champions homegrown talent while fostering collaboration and innovation, contributing to the dynamic landscape of T-POP and shaping the future of Thai music.

Popular Thai TV and radio channels play a crucial role in promoting T-POP, with radio stations like Hot Wave and Cool 93 Fahrenheit offering diverse playlists of Thai and international pop music. These stations regularly host interviews and live sessions with artists, fostering engagement with the music community. Additionally, Green Wave 106.5 FM caters to a broad audience with its blend of pop, rock, and ballads, often organizing music events and concerts. Thai PBS, the national public broadcasting service, showcases both traditional and contemporary Thai music, further contributing to the exposure of T-POP. Major TV channels like Channel 3 and Channel 7 feature music shows, variety programs, and live performances, providing platforms for established and emerging Thai artists to showcase their talents. Furthermore, streaming platforms such as Joox, Spotify, YouTube, and App Plern (from GMM) offer convenient access to a vast library of Thai songs, allowing listeners to explore and enjoy T-POP at their convenience. Programs like T-Pop Stage Show and Thailand Music Countdown keep audiences informed about the latest hits and trends in Thai music, ensuring continuous engagement with the dynamic T-POP scene.

T-POP has undergone significant transformations from its pioneering days in the 70s and 80s to the digital age of today. Each era has contributed to the rich tapestry of Thai Pop music, making it a resilient and dynamic force in the global music industry. As T-POP continues to evolve, it remains an integral part of Thailand's cultural identity, proving that no one can stop the wave of Thai Pop.

T-POP: No one can stop the wave of Thai pop

[1] Summary from https://workpointtoday.com/t-pop/, https://adaymagazine.com/t-pop-age/, https://www.2020.co.th/dundara/article/45
[2] https://th.wikipedia.org/wiki/โลกดนตรี
[3] https://th.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_สี คอนเสิร์ตออนทัวร์
[4] https://th.wikipedia.org/wiki/ชุดรับแขก_(อัลบั้ม)