What songs sound just like "One Night in Bangkok?"
April 7, 2022 2:32 PM   Subscribe

My baby loves this song more than any other song she's heard. (Way, way more.) I'd like to find a replacement.

My 10-month old heard the 1984 Chess album playing in the background a couple times, and it turns out she absolutely loves "One Night in Bangkok."

Like, stops whatever she's doing and grins. Starts boogying. Stops her crying. Loves it. It's become our secret weapon for bad afternoons.

No other song gets that kind of reaction. But, for various reasons, I'd prefer this not be her favorite song. I'd like to take it out of rotation altogether. I don't want to lose out on its magic baby-cheering powers though.

That's why I'm looking for songs that sound as close as possible to this one. The more likely someone could sue for plagiarism, the better.

So what will my baby's next favorite song be?
posted by Bambiraptor to Media & Arts (59 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
1980, same-ish tempo: Down Under by Men at Work.
posted by emelenjr at 2:36 PM on April 7, 2022 [18 favorites]

Wall of Voodoo's Mexican Radio? Similar marching along to a tune with sing-song character.
posted by carmicha at 2:40 PM on April 7, 2022 [8 favorites]

Let’s Dance by David Bowie from 1983.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 2:42 PM on April 7, 2022 [10 favorites]

Chumbawumba's Tubthumping for its exuberance and crowd singing?
posted by carmicha at 2:42 PM on April 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Pop Muzik by M from 1979.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 2:46 PM on April 7, 2022 [10 favorites]

It is a great song. Maybe "Puttin' on the Ritz" by Taco?
posted by Jess the Mess at 2:52 PM on April 7, 2022 [18 favorites]

This is giving me huge Real Genius soundtrack vibes, but I can't quite put my finger on the brass sting that's triggering it.
posted by BrashTech at 2:54 PM on April 7, 2022

Stayin’ Alive by the BeeGees?

Maybe she likes disco!
posted by mochapickle at 2:56 PM on April 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: When my kid was a baby, he loved The Human League's "Don't You Want Me, Baby," which I played and sang for him. If you try this, please report whether your baby likes it, too. Could be some data points in a very intriguing article on infant neuromusicology. :)

Some genius has also placed on Spotify the entirety of Rhino Records' multi-disc "Just Can't Get Enough" New Wave CD series (which contains "One Night in Bangkok," among many other classics), so you could spin that dial and see how it lands.
posted by Dr. Wu at 3:05 PM on April 7, 2022 [7 favorites]

Yeah, Taco and Falco probably if you think it's the tick-tock feel with...i don't know how I'd describe ONiB, disaffected-ish?

Perennial left-field option with a similar repetitive backing: Adriano Celentano - Prisencolinensinainciusol
posted by rhizome at 3:08 PM on April 7, 2022 [4 favorites]

They Might Be Giant's album Flood scratches the same itch for me (must be listened to in order).
posted by Adifferentbear at 3:12 PM on April 7, 2022 [4 favorites]

Some genius has also placed on Spotify the entirety of Rhino Records' multi-disc "Just Can't Get Enough" New Wave CD series


to answer the question, maybe some other works by the ABBA guys? Like, The Day Before You Came
posted by chavenet at 3:26 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

At least for the vocals, maybe some early B-52s, like "Your Own Private Idaho" or "Rock Lobster". For a house-y beat and chant-y vocals, maybe "Supermodel" by RuPaul.
posted by LionIndex at 3:38 PM on April 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” and “Der Kommissar” would be perfect!
posted by cakelite at 3:50 PM on April 7, 2022 [13 favorites]

How Bizarre, Otara Millionaires Club, nsfw-ish hotpants. Has the kind of happy ennui as in ONiB and Tub Thumping.

Funky Town here's Pseudo Echo's versions of it, but maybe Lipp Inc' original is better.
posted by unearthed at 3:51 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Speaking of B-52s, Mesopotamia has a kinda-same groove
posted by rhizome at 4:22 PM on April 7, 2022

Is it the intro orchestral part or the middle vocal part?

Neither is exactly like it, but for the former maybe Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick." For the latter, several songs from Scritti Politti's "Songs to Remember" might be worth a try. It's further out, but I'm also reminded of several tracks on Paula Abdul's "Spellbound." All three may have lyrics you should evaluate before playing them for a kid, but they're probably preferable to the original. (I was surprised and entertained that "baby" was literal.)
posted by eotvos at 4:23 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Rockwell, Somebody’s Watching Me

A verified bop, good mix of angular and fluid like Bangkok, churchy chord progressions we adults might experience as “spooky lite.”
posted by kapers at 4:43 PM on April 7, 2022 [6 favorites]

Abracadabra was a big hit with my kiddo and seems to have some related vibes.
posted by latkes at 4:45 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Elvis Costello, Watching the Detectives

Rockwell - Somebody's Watching Me

The Buggles, Video Killed the Radio Star

Flock of Seagulls - I Ran

Midnight Oil, Beds Are Burning

Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World

New Order, Blue Monday

Soft Cell, Tainted Love

Wall of Voodoo, Mexican Radio

Yes - Owner of a Lonely Heart

Berlin, Metro

Duran Duran, Rio

Oingo Boing, Dead Man's Party

Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me)

Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal

Sade - Smooth Operator
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:50 PM on April 7, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Pet Shop Boys, West End Girls if she just likes pallid Englishmen speak-rapping over a bouncy track.
posted by kapers at 4:52 PM on April 7, 2022 [17 favorites]

Break My Stride, Matthew Wilder.
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:53 PM on April 7, 2022 [12 favorites]

maybe this very 1989 Michael Damian remix of Rock On for the combination of reverbed talk-singing and synth chords

and I don't think you really want this in heavy baby rotation, but in case:

Information Society, Pure Energy
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:59 PM on April 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Safety Dance - Men Without Hats
posted by Mchelly at 5:03 PM on April 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

Or maybe Dead or Alive - You Spin Me Round
posted by Mchelly at 5:06 PM on April 7, 2022 [9 favorites]

Have you tried Abba?
posted by betweenthebars at 5:12 PM on April 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

This child will be growing up totally awesome
posted by The otter lady at 5:29 PM on April 7, 2022 [15 favorites]

posted by daisystomper at 6:17 PM on April 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

My Sharona by The Knack?

It was pretty awesome during my high school typing class.
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 7:12 PM on April 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

If you’re very lucky, and what baby likes is a man’s voice talking extra-dramatically interspersed with a fun danceable chorus, you might get away with Once in a Lifetime
posted by Mchelly at 8:10 PM on April 7, 2022 [6 favorites]

So that song was part of a Broadway show; maybe instead of other pop songs, what you need is musicals? More moderny ones, maybe? So, Cats? Les Mis? Annie? Maybe she'd like Ring of Keys from Fun Home?

I think little kids tend to respond to the big emotions in musicals; my kiddo loved Phantom for a while.

Of course, you may or may not be a musicals fan, so don't try one you really hate.
posted by emjaybee at 8:21 PM on April 7, 2022

Boy, this is a tricky one! ONIB has such a distinct sound and cadence. Perhaps these?

Squeeze - Up the Junction

Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting

You could make a pretty darn good playlist in general with all the songs listed in this thread! I will be super curious for your report back on whether any worked the same magic on your daughter!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:22 PM on April 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

For reasons I can’t nail down, “Last Plane Out” by Toy Matinee feels worth trying.
For compellingly spoken lyrics, “The Distance” by Cake.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 8:33 PM on April 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Agree that Last Plane Out might be good. (Tunnel of Love is an orphaned Springsteen track that also kinda fits.)

Some other New Wavey (and later) stuff that percolated up :

Naked Eyes - Promises Promises

Real Life - Send Me an Angel

Corey Hart - Sunglasses at Night
(and there's a ton of recent retro synthwave if that turns out to be the thing)

Missing Persons - Walking in LA

Thomas Dolby - She Blinded Me With Science

Big Country - In A Big Country

Animotion - Obsession

INXS - Need You Tonight

The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary

More talky upbeat stuff that might work:

REM - Stand, , Jesus Jones - Right Here Right Now (and also Van Halen's Right Now), Spin Doctors - Two Princes, What Time Is It, DMB - Too Much, US3 - Cantaloop

If "Once in a Lifetime" works, there's a bunch of other Talking Heads that will too -- mostly on Speaking in Tongues (which will be great as long as you don't hate them).

Burning Down the House
Moon Rocks

Dream Operator is a great lullaby, imo. (True Stories version.)

If those work, then Money for Nothing and Sledgehammer are probably also going to. Maybe In the Air Tonight.

At this point we're pretty much getting into my childhood music.

In which case, Electric Avenue and Jokerman. And all of Graceland, starting with Call Me Al.

On a hunch, I might give Buena Vista Social Club a try too. Chan Chan.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:47 PM on April 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

everyone else already said what i was gonna say!
EXCEPT I DIDNT SEE ANYONE SAY THIS (unless i missed it) Lovin Spoonful - Summer in the City (it rules, and has quite a similar feel, but not the same "sound")
BUT SRLSY CHECK IT. so many other good reccs in this thread tho!
posted by capnsue at 9:50 PM on April 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

Bangles - Walk Like an Egyptian, too. (And if that works maybe Cannonball and Seether; if those pass then there's a lot of other grunge, pop punk and indie that will too.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:03 PM on April 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

You know, this is NOTHING like "One Night in Bangkok", but the thought of a baby potentially digging it and baby-dancing to it just would overjoy me, so here is Queen's Brian May and Kerry Ellis doing "Defying Gravity". If she starts dancing to this please post video because that would just be literally the Perfection of Human Existence.
posted by MollyRealized at 10:39 PM on April 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

Mr. Roboto of course.
posted by wile e at 11:52 PM on April 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

If I were a toddler who did not want my parents to cringe at the song I love, I’d think I’d Like to Move It from the Madagascar movie would hit the chanty upbeat rhythm that appeals about ONIB.
posted by rw at 12:01 AM on April 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

If what baby likes is the brutish break in ONIB from the orchestral intro to Murray Head barging in, maybe baby would like Bjork's It's Oh So Quiet
posted by chavenet at 3:21 AM on April 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Mister Moofoo: For reasons I can’t nail down, “Last Plane Out” by Toy Matinee feels worth trying.

If Last Plane Out scratches that itch, your baby will definitely grow up to be cool.
posted by emelenjr at 7:50 AM on April 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

If it's the bass line, Don Quichotte by Magazine 60 is pretty catchy and similar.
posted by telophase at 8:24 AM on April 8, 2022

I think one of the above commenters nails it with Mexican Radio.
posted by hoodrich at 9:35 AM on April 8, 2022

Best answer: Perhaps not surprisingly, a playlist made from this thread turns out to be pretty fun, so I offer it up here in case anyone else wants it.
posted by Stacey at 11:22 AM on April 8, 2022 [17 favorites]

Earlier this week, I was listening to "Room Where It Happens" from Hamilton , and feeling it had a similar vibe to ONIB.
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 3:55 PM on April 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great answers! After much listening, "West End Girls" was a hit, and "Don't You Want Me, Baby" also piqued her interest, so I marked those as best answers.

And as others have said, all these recs make a great playlist, so I look forward to continuing to listen to these songs with her. I'm sure she'll come to love even more of them over time.
posted by Bambiraptor at 5:34 PM on April 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

This whole thread is most of my 80s kid playlist and it's great.

I searched the thread with ctrl-f and I'm hoping these aren't repeats, because amazingly there's some favorites in this vein of jaunty, upbeat, 4/4 skiffle-rock sound.

Tones on Tail - GO!

Yello - Oh Yeah

The Romantics - What I like About You

The Clash - Rock the Casbah

Dexy's Midnight Runners - Come on Eileen

The Vapors - Turning Japanese

And now for the ska section. There's a ton of ska music your baby might like.

The Specials - Gangsters

Madness - Night Boat to Cairo

Madness - One Step Beyond

Fishbone - Party at Ground Zero

Bad Manners - Lip Up Fatty

The English Beat - Mirror in the Bathroom

Also, in addition to all of this your kid might like house music. And if it works and helps with the fussy and you like this music, well you're in luck because it's relatively easy to find long DJ mixes ranging from an hour to four hours or more and maybe you can just throw one of these on and let it rip while they boogie.

Maybe try:

Ben Bohmer - Live at Anjunadeep

Or maybe this more minimal, chill dub techno live mix, which is a personal favorite:

Drift Deeper Live Show 181

Or maybe this one from Pablo Bolivar. WARNING: This mix starts off with some loud, abrasive and stupid sounding movie quite or something about guns or something maybe from a gangster/mob movie or something I don't know. Skip through it and it's much more mellow and nice.

Pablo Bolivar - Live at Nos-Org, Tokio 2012

And your kid obviously isn't wrong and right on track.

I'm ancient and I also use this kind of music to sooth myself. All of these 80s/90s tracks we're talking about are all descriptive of why I love dance music, that driving 4/4 beat with polyrhythm and swing to it and some pleasing complexity but also structure.
posted by loquacious at 6:46 PM on April 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Came back in here to make sure that “West End Girls” is getting proper attention here (it and ONiB are as close to identical as any two non-covers can be). Glad to see it’s already been tested and is baby-approved.

Shocked that there was a Talking Heads recommendation above but nobody mentioned Road to Nowhere. The same kind of midtempo marching rhythm; the same kind of elongated intro and sudden, very fun transition to the actual song; the same cut to a cappella at the very end if I remember correctly. And the sheer joy David Byrne expresses as the song rounds the final turn through the pre-chorus and chorus… all those squawks and yelps and grunts… no toddler can resist those. Mine certainly couldn’t ten-plus years ago.
posted by sesquipedalia at 8:11 PM on April 8, 2022

I’m so afraid that “It’s Oh So Quiet” would lull your baby then SHOCK THEM INTO TOTAL WAKEFULNESS.
posted by lhauser at 8:22 PM on April 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Wordy Rappinghood by the Tom Tom Club is very similar once the orchestral part at the beginning of ONIB gives way to the lyrics.
posted by marguerite at 7:44 PM on April 9, 2022

Björk - Theres More To Life Than This - YouTube - better Bjork.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:11 AM on April 10, 2022

LOL, Master Blaster - One Night in Bangkok - YouTube.

There was a previous question of some much older kid fixated on one particular song... Dump a bunch of remixes and covers on them and burn that earworm out..

Master Blaster - One Night in Bangkok - YouTube

See if they like this as much, then deep dive into One Night In Bangkok Remix.... and "Oh, the things one will find".

I think the major thing might be the consistent droning of the bass line, that's the bit that seems to transcend the different interpretations. It's easy to dance to.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:45 AM on April 10, 2022

What fun! Here's the playlist for the YouTube Music peeps.
posted by nosila at 1:00 PM on April 13, 2022

I have seen more than one baby bop more than once to George Ezra's Shotgun.
posted by andraste at 3:31 PM on April 13, 2022

for various reasons, I'd prefer this not be her favorite song

Don't judge. When I was a very small child, my favorite song for a long while was David Lee Roth's "California Girls" followed up on that album by "Just A Gigolo". You can try and replace ONiB with something else, but baby likes what baby likes. The queens you want to use will not excite her.
posted by Servo5678 at 10:29 AM on April 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

Spotify playlist, since I didn't see one.
posted by MollyRealized at 7:55 PM on April 15, 2022

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