Luk thung singer Baitoey shimmies to stardom, dancing in a hit hip-hop video
A few months ago, she was known to only a few fans. Today, luk thung singer Baitoey is not only the most-popular view on YouTube but she recently earned the distinction of becoming the best-selling solo artist in the history of Thai entertainment conglomerate RS Public.
And it’s all thanks to her sexy dance moves being on the music video for “Rak Tong Perd (Nan Oak)”, the first single by the T-hop trio 3.2.1, which features her as a guest vocalist.
The single was released on May 2 and the video went viral overnight, sending Baitoey – Suteewan Thaveesin as she was born – to stardom not only in Thailand but also in Taiwan, Malaysia and Japan. The latest estimate puts the number of views at 23 million and this week the clip made it into the Top 20 videos on the Viral Video Chart.
The song too is a constant spin, with Thai gals all over the country donning her conceptual costume of body suit and corset and imitating her suggestive gestures as they dance to the hip-hop beat.
Baitoey is now in demand for fashion shoots, has been cast to star in a TV drama and has reportedly been offered Bt1.8 million by one commercial outfit to serve as their presenter for one year. She’s also considering offers from Instagram and a music show.
Not bad for a 25-year-old lass from the South.
But Baitoey isn’t just a pretty face with a sexy body. “I don’t only show off my body with the single, but also my intelligence and ability,” she says. “I don’t feel shy about the way I move; in fact I love it as it shows my talents.”
She doesn’t even mind people referring to her as “san samer hoo”, a phrase meaning “ear range” but which also can mean a short dress that leaves little to the imagination.
“It’s had the effect of making me known to many more people,” she points out. “I’m the first artist to appear on the front page of [best-selling Thai newspaper] Thai Rath. That made history for RS too.”
Baitoey has been singing since she was a small child and entered her first singing contest at the tender age of six, singing a Thai pop song. Other contests followed and at high school she switched to luk thung (Thai country), training herself to adopt the vocal range and moves so she could take part in a singing contest.
“I’d listen to Mae Phueng [Poompuan Duangchan]’s ‘Loke Khong Phueng’, ‘Nak Rong Ban Nok’ and ‘Huajai Thawai Wat’ time and time again to learn the right emotional expression,” she recalls.
By the age of 15, she’d won more than 60 trophies for her vocal prowess and finally got her break when she won the 2004 Panasonic Star Challenge and a contract with RS.
In 2010, she released her first single, “Pak Mai … Jai Khid Thueng”, which promoted her as a happy and innocent luk thung singer, but it made little impact on the market, Not long after, she came out with “Coyote Kha Phi” and a new look. In 2011, she recorded her debut album titled “Check Rating”, which also featured her third single of the same name.
“That sexy girl image with the very short dresses earned me quite a few complaints that I was hurting the reputation of luk thung by selling sexiness rather than singing,” she says.
It’s a criticism that seems unfair, given that virtually every female luk thung or morlam sing (modernised Isaan dance) singer dons a sexy outfit to perform.
“Some of them wear even shorter dresses than I do but I guess the nasty feedback is because I’m signed with a major recording company and have appeared in the media more than other artists. I still find some anti-Baitoey webpages on the Internet,” she says.
It was RS’s teen label Kamikaze who came up with the idea of featuring Baitoey on “Rak Tong Perd (Nan Oak)”, a number that combines hip-hop rhyming verses with a luk thung vocal chorus.
“Kamikaze is expanding its market and the single has certainly made 3.2.1 popular,” she says.
Her popularity has led to the appearance on the Internet of photos taken during her childhood and teenage years and fans can’t help noticing that she’s looking not only more beautiful these days but also sports a much lighter complexion.
“I’m still very dark-skinned,” she laughs. “But these days I take care of my skin and improve my complexion with several whitening products.
“But I refuse to have glutathione injections because I don’t want to hurt my body. I also haven’t had any plastic surgery on my face, eyes, nose or breasts. I did think about it after seeing how great my friends looked after they underwent cosmetic surgery but I’m worried about what could go wrong.
“Right now, I have a good life and my physical features are okay, so I’m not going to change anything.”
Baitoey, who quit her studies in tourism and hospitality management at Dhurakij Pundit University in her third year to focus on her career, in unsure when the future will take her.
“I love travelling in Thailand and helping people. I love cold weather so my dream is go to New Zealand or Switzerland during the winter and I’d also like to climb Mount Everest.”
“For now though, I’m more than happy with the success of ‘Rak Tong Perd’. But I’d love to star in a movie,” she giggles.