Traditional Lao music, remixed in random YouTube video

A funky little video of traditional "Mor lam" singing. Here's what Wikipedia says about this genre:

Contemporary forms of the music are also characterised by quick tempi and rapid delivery, while tempo tend to be slower in traditional forms and in some Lao genres. Some consistent characteristics include strong rhythmic accompaniment, vocal leaps, and a conversational style of singing that can be compared to American rap. Typically featuring a theme of unrequited love, mor lam also reflects the difficulties of life in rural Isan and Laos, leavened with wry humour.
Link (Thanks, Alex Ringis). Update: commenter Wisekwai out-weirds me with this culturally related video, which includes obliquely simulated bestiality and Thai furries.


  1. Hi Xeni, et al:

    The track isn’t a “remix” – this is what Mor Lam (or, more accurately “Mor Lam SING”) sounds like. It is very popular in Laos and in the northeastern third of Thailand.

  2. Whoa, I’m familiar with some of this music from my youth! I used to hear it a lot in eating places too, and largely recall it being very melodic and catchy.

    Notice how the beat at the beginning with the rez zap sounds very Kraftwerkian.

    Somewhat related but more commercial and sung in English, I’m sure just about anyone who visited Thailand in the early 90s will recognize this:


    I’ve wondered all these years if the production was influenced by Ace of Base.

  3. first off, fantastic! This made my Sunday afternoon a little nicer. My question is this: Is this a “music video” for the song we’re hearing?
    Also, what is that huge pan pipe instrument and where can I hear one?

  4. In the same vein there is an absolutely AWESOME band called Dengue Fever (Cambodian not Laosian) that plays “Khmer Rock” which is a kind of fusion of psychadelic rock and Cambodian pop music. The lead singer Chhom Nimol sings in Khmer along with backup from a couple guys that play somewhat standard American rock. The sound is FANTASTIC.

    They also apparently have a new documentary about the band that came out recently. I haven’t seen it but I want to.

    I would post some links but I can’t seem to paste anything into this field (bug in firefox, one of my addons or boingboing… anyone else have this problem?)

  5. Morlum concerts, are far more than music. They are closer to vaudeville. Big shows will have 30 or more dancing girls behind the singers, and a new set of girls are swapped out with new costumes with each song.

    Between sets of songs there are comedy routines, often with men dressed in drag. I’ve been to a couple of very remote concerts where they had traditional shadow puppet plays.

    Concerts start around 7pm and go all night ending around 7am.

    Thai people love to dance and can’t seem to stop themselves from jumping up and dancing. By 3am the only people still standing and dancing are usually the grannies who are smashed out of their heads and drag you up near the stage to dance with them.

    There is a lot of cheap whiskey and rice moonshine, and it is common in big concerts for groups of teenagers to start throwing bottles at each other. This often provokes security into action who are usually armed with assault rifles. Shots get fired and people can get trampled in the rush to escape the gun fire.

    But I’ve never seen any serious problems in any of the smaller concerts.

    There is a lot of good Morlum and Lamlao on YouTube. Search for Jintara and Siriporn and you should find some good stuff.

  6. What’s with the links to a boingboing wiki? That isn’t there.

    Perhaps it’s a subtle hint that somebody should start one.

  7. I’m sorry, the drum-machine beats are *not* mor lam, at least not the mor lam I’m used to hearing in the taxicabs of Bangkok. So I do think some remix wizardry may have had a hand in this. Or maybe not. Whatever. I’m not a fan.

    Play just about any other of the “related videos” to that clip Xeni linked to for a purer representation.

    Give me my mor lam without the techno, please, and with the head-nodding cowbell clicks on all fours. Though splashy horn lines, jangly guitar and cheesy keyboards are welcome. More like this.

    Brad Collins, I’ve not been to a mor lam concert, and given your hilariously frightening description of smashed grannies, bottle-throwing teenagers and live-round pyrotechnics by security, I’m not sure I’m about to seek one out. I think a Bangkok taxicab is safer. Plenty of Jintara and Siriporn to be heard in those venues.

    By the way, Enoch, Dengue Fever has an incredible summer festival lineup, including Glastonbury and Roskilde, where they are showing their documentary, Sleepwalking Through the Mekong. The band’s worldwide popularity has exploded this year.

  8. wisekwai,

    If you were trying to out-weird Xeni with that video, I think that you succeeded.

  9. Sorry about that Antinous. I was thinking about the music and not so much about the weirdness of the Mee Panda video, which admittedly, with its leanings toward furries and beastiality is pretty weird, even to BoingBoing readers I suppose.

    I’ve been in Thailand too long.

  10. BAAKMEE aka just:
    are trying to make morlum be heard all over to all people. do you think its possible?
    check him out at

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