First a hit in November, Htet Yan’s Nway Thwar Tal (Makes Me Feel Warm) is back and bigger than ever thanks to its recent popularity on Chinese video app TikTok. But amid an explosion of covers and memes celebrating the tune in recent weeks, people are suddenly coming to a realization — it sounds an awful lot like the Imagine Dragon’s song Thunder.
In an interview with online outlet Myanmar Celebrity on Wednesday, Htet Yan slapped back at the growing chorus of people claiming it’s a ripoff, insisting there are many songs in the world that have similar lyrics, melodies and flow, and that his song just, y’know, happens to sound a lot like Thunder.
“I’m happy to hear that they are wondering what my song is similar to because it means they can’t get the song out of their heads,” he said, offering some tortured logic that we’re having a hard time getting out of our heads.
“We are not world famous. We work hard to try to make our songs better and sometimes we listen to international music for inspiration, but I have never copied a song,” he added.
While not world famous, Nway Thwar Tal has proven massively popular on TikTok, where there are more than 50,000 videos featuring it, including everything from lip-synching Burmese men, to cheesy celebrity video in which local actor Daung simply walks around a mall to its strains.
Of course, Myanmar actually is world famous for copyright theft, with some of its most popular bands having made their names off of Western hits they simply reworked with Burmese lyrics — without permission, naturally.
Facebook user Kaung Htet Paing uploaded a Snapchat video by Htar Waya Paing that perfectly encapsulated the debate in a hilarious cover of the Burmese song in which Waya Paing “accidentally” sings the chorus of the Imagine Dragons’ hit.
We also wanted to share this fabulous dance video of the Burmese track, just because.
As mentioned, copyright has long been a problematic issue in Myanmar, with the lack of enforcement and a rigorous and clear accountability structure making it practically impossible to take effective legal action against those plagiarizing tunes.
“There isn’t much we can do to have people not create plagiarized songs because there are no copyright laws to enforce and people can do whatever they want. If you use another user’s content, you can pay them $7 and get off the hook,” Steph Koko, COO of digital content aggregator Legacy Music Network, told Coconuts Yangon this morning.
Whether or not Htet Yan’s hit is a rip-off is up to the audience to decide. In that spirit, we’ve included both songs so you can decide for yourself.