The Tiger Girls, Burma’s answer to the celebrated Spice Girls, are clawing their way rapidly to the top of the Burmese pop scene.
Burma’s first all-girl band took to the stage last February and since then has built up a large fan base—which doesn’t include members of the country’s censorship board, who took exception to some of the group’s more daring English language lyrics.
The band was created by an Australian dancer, Nicola May, who was teaching in Rangoon orphanages when she realized that Burma’s pop scene lacked an all-girl group. She held auditions and chose the five members of the Tiger Girls from 100 applicants.
“There is so much natural music flowing through people’s veins here, but the music industry is undeveloped,” she told The Guardian. “Girls have more to sing about than sad love songs or tough hip-hop tracks.”
The Tiger Girls write their own songs, which often contain contemporary social messages.
“Is this Yangon or is this the jungle?” was interpreted as a comment on the difficulties of living in Rangoon, with its constant power failures and other annoyances.
Sure enough, when The Guardian’s reporter called to watch a Tiger Girls rehearsal the power suddenly failed in the tiny Rangoon studio.
“The singers are just launching into the chorus when the music goes dead,” he wrote. “The power has cut out, as it does a couple of times a day in Burma’s crumbling former capital, taking with it their backing tracks, the lights and the air conditioning.
“The girls sing on, undeterred by the sweltering heat of their boxy rehearsal studio or the noisy city outside.”
The Spice Girls never had to contend with conditions like that, the reporter noted—“But the Spice Girls never had to have their song lyrics approved by a military board of censors, either.”