Saturday, January 07, 2012

Step Aside, Girls' Generation, Here's Me N Ma Girls!

Me N Ma Girls

K-Pop gets all the attention these days, but other Asian bands are pushing their way into the spotlight. My K-Pop fanatic daughter and I read an unsigned International Tribune Herald article whose online NYT version is "Myanmar's First Girl Band Pushes Limits of Censors, and Parents" (January 4, 2012) and which informs us of the band Me N Ma Girls (a pun on "Myanmar girls"):
The band is a creation of Nicole May, an Australian dancer who came to Myanmar three years ago and handpicked five women from 120 candidates who responded to an ad on the radio and in newspapers . . .

Ms. May, who is a graphic designer by profession, chose the band members using criteria atypical for the doll-like girl bands common across Asia. Ms. May said she wanted attitude and charisma.

"I wanted five girls who had energy and magnetic attraction," Ms. May said.

All five of the members of Me N Ma Girls have college degrees, in the fields of chemistry, zoology, mathematics, Russian and computer science. The band members, while not overly cerebral, are outspoken and confident.

My daughter gaped at reading of their educational level.
The band was first known the Tiger Girls, but the choice of band members created a rift between Ms. May and her Burmese co-manager, Moe Kyaw, who initially financed the Tiger Girls and who was looking for a more South Korean look: light-skinned with the willowy bodies of store-window mannequins.

My daughter, who loves Girls' Generation, exclaimed, "That describes Girls' Generation! In one video, they even were mannequins!"
"I was skeptical," Mr. Moe Kyaw said in response to e-mailed questions. "If you were to ask me if I thought they had the looks for a successful girl band, I would say no."

Mr. Moe Kyaw said he initially relented because he thought that the girls were talented and that looks were not everything. "This was during the days of Susan Boyle," he said.

But he changed his mind. A year ago, Mr. Moe Kyaw and Ms. May parted ways. The girls followed Ms. May and changed their name to Me N Ma Girls.

Growing name recognition in the music industry in Myanmar -- the girls have been featured in magazine spreads and profiles in the Burmese media -- has yet to translate to financial success.

That may be about to change, now that the band has made front page of the International Herald Tribune, the version of the article that my daughter and I read ("Pop singers onstage, and deferential daughters at home," January 5, 2012).

I was curious and managed to find this video on You Tube: "Chate Lite Tot." They do have energy and magnetism, and a more spontaneous style than the highly synchronized K-Pop bands, though the Me N Ma Girls are also obviously well-practiced in choreographics.

After watching that one video, I noticed that the online article has a couple of links itself. Here are "Festival" and "Liar!" Or just go to their Vimeo site, which is under their manager's name, Nicole May.

Will they make it big? We'll see, but since Myanmar seems to be opening up to the world these days, their window of opportunity may have opened.

UPDATE: Here's a pseudonymously written Guardian article from a year ago, when the group was still the Tiger Girls, and it has a photo of Nicole May with the band.

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