When I first arrived at OWU, more difficult than teaching people to say my name properly (it's Phub - there is no Ph sound remotely close in the English language. So, it's not Poo or Foo!), was explaining to them where my country Bhutan is. I could show you where it is on the map but you can do that yourself.
I am here to share with you some pop culture from Bhutan. Bhutan charges up to $250 a day for tourists to visit, and yet, a lot of people pay that amount. One of the things that make it worthwhile is Bhutanese culture. Culture and environment are protected in the Constitution. But what is culture if it does not grow? For my article this week, I wanted to write about Bhutan and what better way to start off than with a collection of pop songs from Bhutan?
When I was a child (like 10 years ago), pop culture in Bhutan was in its infancy; film makers and singers stuck to adapting cultural tunes. But with fast paced broadband and mobile data coming into the country (around the same time in 2006), pop culture has been on the rise.
Watching it grow has been a real pleasure. And all the songs on this list are the songs I've loved over the years, there are more but for now this will do for you. Click on the links and listen to each song if you want. Or read descriptions on each link and choose which ones you would want.
So here is a list of Bhutanese songs that you might like! Please be informed that other than item one, all others are non-commercial songs and so, the covers don't violate copyright laws here in the US or in Bhutan.
1. Dari Denda Mey - Ugyen Panday and Pema Deki - this is my personal favourite.
A perfect tune for a romantic evening. The title translates to "My heart sings for no reason today".
2. Gu Doe Nang - Dechen Yangzom Dema - Even if you don't understand the parts of this song that are in Dzongkha (my native language), your heart strings will be touched with this melody.
In the same fashion (although very different style) as Edith Piaf in Tu Es Partout, Dechen sings about lost love, the title translating to "Please wait". If you think she has a beautiful voice, here are a few of her other recordings - some of which are in English!
i. The Script Mashup
ii. Thinking out loud cover
iii. Ata chikha doegey
iv. Your song cover
v. Fix You cover
3. Nge Thimphu - Misty Terrace - This. This is my jam.
Thimphu is my city and the title literally says "My Thimphu". You'll have fun head banging to this! All in all, Misty Terrace are easily my favourite band from Bhutan. Here are a few of their other works.
i. Wongdho Wongdho
iii. Please don't go (Choe Ma Jo)
4. Lethro - Pennore - Lethro is another sad ballad (I swear we're not a country of heartbroken vagabonds).
And it's probably a good thing you don't understand Dzongkha, I'm listening to it as I write and risk electrocution from tears on my keyboard.
5. Hip Hop has grown huge in Bhutan; so for the fifth item on this list, I am compiling some of my favourite rap pieces.
Some of them are covers:
a. Kezang Dorji - Kezang is an amazing artist and is fluent in 5 languages and can rap in all of them. Follow his SoundCloud account for more but here is three of my favourites of his:
i. Dear Prime Minister - In this piece, he talks about 'democracy' and how its politics has caused rifts in Bhutan's society. He asks politicians to not play at identity politics and that people vote!
ii. Gachibey - Rap artistry at its finest, Kezang in Gachibey raps about societal inequality.
iii. Nga Gi Bey Tsu (I can) - This is an adaptation of I know I can by NAS into Dzongkha
b. Drona - Get ready for some fast paced action.
i. Kuzu - This is easily my favourite rap by Bhutanese artists.
ii. To My Ex
c. Sangay Wangchen
i. Airplane Cover
Very smooth and easy on the ears. Yithro Lhamo
This was definitely a difficult list to compile; and a hard article to write, made even harder by nostalgia hitting me at every song. But I am glad to have written this, to have shared a part of my country with you. I hope to do more on Bhutan in the future, let me know if you liked it!