One Night in Bangkok

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"One Night in Bangkok"
Single by Murray Head
from the album Chess OST
B-side "Merano"
Released October 1984
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1984
Genre Pop, new wave[1]
Length 3:51
4:06 (US 7")
5:02 (album)
Label RCA
Writer(s) Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus (composers)
Tim Rice & Björn Ulvaeus (lyricists)
Producer(s) Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Tim Rice
Murray Head singles chronology
"Maman"
(1982)
"One Night in Bangkok"
(1984)
"When You're in Love"
(1984)
Music sample

"One Night In Bangkok" is a song originally sung by the British actor and pop-dance singer Murray Head (verses) and Swedish singer and songwriter Anders Glenmark (choruses) on the 1984 concept album for the musical Chess. Its music was composed by former ABBA members Benny Andersson and Björn K. Ulvaeus, and its lyrics were written by Tim Rice and Ulvaeus.

The release topped the charts in many countries, including South Africa, West Germany, Switzerland and Australia. It peaked at number 3 in both Canada and the United States in May 1985,[2] and at number 12 in Head's native United Kingdom.

Lyrics and music[edit]

The full version of the song begins with an orchestral introduction, titled "Bangkok," of Oriental style. This serves as the introduction to Act 2 in the original musical album, and feeds into the first verse of "One Night In Bangkok" itself with an abrupt change in musical style.

The main song has a pop styling, whose lyrics sarcastically juxtapose the Thai capital city and its nightlife with the game of chess. In the original concept album for the musical, the choruses are sung by Swedish artist Anders Glenmark, whereas the verses are a rap originally performed by Murray Head as the American chess grandmaster, a character known as Frederick "Freddie" Trumper in the staged versions. (In the staged versions, a musical ensemble performs the choruses.) Whereas the choruses extol Bangkok's reputation and exciting atmosphere, the American's verses denounce the city, including its red-light district, "muddy old river" and "reclining Buddha." These sarcastic denunciations led to Thailand's Mass Communications Organization issuing a ban on the song in 1985, saying its lyrics "cause misunderstanding about Thai society and show disrespect towards Buddhism."[3]

In the original London production of Chess, the setting for the song is an interview by Freddie, who is in Bangkok to serve as a TV analyst for a match involving his rival, world champion and Russian defector Anatoly Sergievsky. Freddie states a preference for what he sees as an intellectual purity in chess, in stark contrast to the seedier aspects of Bangkok's night life, e.g., "The queens WE use would not excite you." Trumper's statements suggest a personal lack of interest for the exotic settings typically involved in international chess matches, and that he prefers instead to focus on the game itself. In the original Broadway production of the musical, the song appears not at the start of Act 2 but in the middle of Act 1; in this version, the world championship of Freddie vs. Anatoly takes place in Bangkok.

The lyrics also mention actor Yul Brynner, who famously played the King of Siam in The King and I. ("Siam" was the previous name for Thailand.) The "Tyrolean spa" mentioned early in the song refers to Merano in Italy, the site of Act 1 of the musical. It also mentions three places where the game of chess is popular—namely, Iceland, The Philippines and Hastings.

Track listings[edit]

7" single
  1. "One Night in Bangkok" — 3:54
  2. "Merano" by The London Symphony Orchestra & The Ambrosian Singers — 7:08
12" maxi
  1. "One Night in Bangkok" — 5:38
  2. "Merano" by The London Symphony Orchestra & The Ambrosian Singers — 7:08

The song was also re-released on Murray Head's album Watching Ourselves Go By in 1990.

Personnel[edit]

  • Keyboards and synthesizers: Benny Andersson
  • Bass: Rutger Gunnarsson
  • Lead guitar: Lasse Wellander
  • Drums: Per Lindvall
  • Flute: Björn J:son Lindh
  • Backing vocals: Anders Glenmark and Karin Glenmark
  • Arrangement: Benny Andersson and Anders Eljas
  • Conductor: Anders Eljas
  • Engineer: Michael B. Tretow
  • Producer: Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Tim Rice

Charts and sales[edit]

Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid
German number one single
18 January 1985 – 25 January 1985 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Shout" by Tears for Fears
Preceded by
"Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid
Swiss number-one single
20 January 1985 – 17 February 1985 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Shout" by Tears for Fears
Preceded by
"Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid
Eurochart Hot 100 number-one single
9 February 1985 – 2 March 1985 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Shout" by Tears for Fears
Preceded by
"I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner
Australian ARIA number-one single
18 March 1985 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Shout" by Tears for Fears

Vinylshakerz version[edit]

"One Night in Bangkok"
Single by Vinylshakerz
from the album Very Superior
Released 14 March 2005
Format CD single
Genre Tech house
Length 3:28
Label Kontor
Producer(s) Vinylshakerz
Vinylshakerz singles chronology
"One Night in Bangkok"
(2005)
"Tekkno Trash (Pay No Cash)"
(2005)

In 2005, German tech house/electro house group Vinylshakerz covered the song. It was released in March 2005 as the lead single from their debut album, Very Superior. It was a hit across Europe, charting in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Peak positions[edit]

Chart (2005) Peak
position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[29] 41
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[30] 8
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[31] 14
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[32] 6
Germany (Media Control AG)[33] 26
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[34] 53
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[35] 87

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kara Manning. "You Can’t Always Get What You Want". Theatre Communications Group, Inc. Retrieved 24 June 2013.  "Actor Murray Head scored an unlikely New Wave hit in 1984 with "One Night in Bangkok" from Chess."
  2. ^ http://www.billboard.com/charts/1985-05-18/hot-100
  3. ^ "This week in religion history". Peterboroughexaminer.com. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  4. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Murray Head – One Night in Bangkok". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  5. ^ "Murray Head – One Night in Bangkok – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  6. ^ "Ultratop.be – Murray Head – One Night in Bangkok" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  7. ^ "RPM Top 100 (20 April 1985)". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  8. ^ "Lescharts.com – Murray Head – One Night in Bangkok" (in French). Les classement single.
  9. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  10. ^ Irish Single Chart Irishcharts.ie (Retrieved 7 April 2008)
  11. ^ "Italian top singles of 1985". Hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Murray Head search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  13. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Murray Head – One Night in Bangkok" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100.
  14. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Murray Head – One Night in Bangkok". Top 40 Singles.
  15. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Murray Head – One Night in Bangkok". VG-lista.
  16. ^ John Samson. "One night in Bangkok in South African Chart". Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  18. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Murray Head – One Night in Bangkok". Singles Top 60.
  19. ^ "Murray Head – One Night in Bangkok – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
  20. ^ "1984 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive - 15th December 1984". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  21. ^ a b c d Billboard Allmusic.com (Retrieved 4 September 2008)
  22. ^ 1985 Austrian Singles Chart Austriancharts.at (Retrieved 4 September 2008)
  23. ^ "1985 Canadian Singles Chart". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  24. ^ "Single top 100 over 1985" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  25. ^ 1985 Swiss Singles Chart Hitparade.ch (Retrieved 4 September 2008)
  26. ^ Canada certifications cria.ca (Retrieved 4 September 2008)
  27. ^ "Les certifications depuis 1973, database" (in French). Infodisc. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  28. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('One+Night+in+Bangkok')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 4 September 2008. 
  29. ^ "Vinylshakerz – One Night in Bangkok – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  30. ^ "Ultratop.be – Vinylshakerz – One Night in Bangkok" (in Dutch). Ultratip.
  31. ^ "Ultratop.be – Vinylshakerz – One Night in Bangkok" (in French). Ultratip.
  32. ^ "Vinylshakerz: One Night in Bangkok" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  33. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  34. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Vinylshakerz – One Night in Bangkok" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100.
  35. ^ "Vinylshakerz – One Night in Bangkok – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.

External links[edit]