Vancouver DJ Louis Yu turned me on to the video series Sexy Beijing a few weeks ago. In it, a nice Jewish girl from the USA named Su Fei (her actual name is Anna Sophie Loewenberg) does a “Sex in the City” routine as she scours Beijing looking for hot Chinese guys and commenting on life there. Normally I’m not much of a fan when it comes to foreigners babbling about their grasp of Chinese culture as they spend most of their time with other expats and only have a cursory understanding of the local culture, but this lady is quite good at asking pertinent questions and getting direct answers from the locals, and certainly does not fall into that category. The production is quite good and I found myself enjoying them.
Hongkonger sent me a link to Joe Wong, the first Chinese stand up comedian to become successful in the United States. This is his initial network television appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman. After the jump, I’ve added an interview, another performance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and a quick comedy sketch of why Joe wants to run for President of the USA.
In the past, I’ve written posts about indie music in China, Taiwan and other Asian countries but I haven’t spent much time on pop music since it isn’t really my thing. But I feel it is time to include what is most popular in these countries and I’ll start off with Taiwan. What inspired me to do this? Well, I recently discovered that my brother-in-law’s wife’s cousin (Wen Shang Yi 溫尚翊 also known as Monster) is the lead guitarist and leader of a band called Mayday 五月天 that is quite popular in Taiwan. So as a loyal brother-in-law, I needed an excuse to feature them!
In a Shanghai market, this lady selling chicken said, “If you buy more, I will sing a song for you” and launched into “Amazing Grace”. She’s from a rural village in Anhui province and doesn’t speak or read English. After she finished the song she said, “As long as everybody is happy.” (I hope this translation is correct. If not, please let me know)
Apologies for the cheesy Susan Boyle comparison in the video and the introduction of the song by a western singer before she launches into it. What impressed me the most about this lady was her great attitude.
Lin Yu Chun is a contestant on Taiwan’s version of American Idol called Super Star Avenue. He’s quite young, a bit chubby with a bowl haircut, not the most likely candidate for stardom. But he does a dead on impersonation of Whitney Houston and has gone viral on You Tube with over 2 million… 5 million hits.
Rather than stick to just one country, I thought I’d highlight underground music from Hong Kong on this post and add a little bit from the rest of Asia on the end. On the left is the Analog Girl, one of the hottest acts on the continent. Hailing from Singapore, the electro-rock chanteuse was named by TIME magazine as one of the 5 Music Acts to Watch in 2008. Since that time she’s toured the world with her unique sound.
I also got interested in the underground music scene in Hong Kong after I discovered “The Underground Channel” on YouTube. After the jump, we’ll feature videos from Quasar, Tacit Closet, Soler, The Sinister Left, DJ Matthew Veith, Hardpack, Audiotraffic and Poubelle International. We’ll also hear from Jakarta’s Goodnight Electric, Malaysia’s Zee Avi and Beijing’s P.K. 14 along with Japan’s Vamp and YMCK. Finally for some of the older crowd, I want to introduce a couple of Enka style acts from Japan, which is surprisingly similar (at least to me) of some of the classic Chinese singers.
Today’s collection is very eclectic so hopefully there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
For the last two centuries, the Chinese psyche has been defined in large part by the humiliations and sufferings brought about by foreigners (see the Opium War, the Second Opium War, and the Nanjing Massacre). After the founding of the current Peoples Republic of China, it was the disastrous policies of the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward which furthered that wound. The latter were the Chinese inflicting pain onto themselves. Continue reading »
Everyone knows China is going through an industrial revolution right now. In developed countries such as the U.S., this took place in the late 19th century. The ratio between the number of rural and urban residents basically swapped because industrialization freed the bulk of the population from having to work in the fields to produce food for all. This phenomenon is occurring in China right now with her massive GDP growth in the last three decades. Despite the hundreds of millions of people having moved to urban areas, the number of Chinese citizens residing in the rural areas is still staggering – 750 million. If the final ratio is similar to other developed countries (which is likely), the scale of this population movement in the coming decades is mind-numbing. Imagine one billion people on the move in only a few decades! Continue reading »
Lou Jing (娄婧) entered a competition reality show called “Let’s Go! Oriental Angels” (加油！东方天使) on Dragon TV. Though born and raised in Shanghai and a Chinese citizen all her life, her story is quite complicated. Her mother was married to a Chinese man but had an affair with an African American man and gave birth to Lou Jing. The African American man went back to the States before Lou Jing was born, the Chinese husband divorced his wife when he discovered she had an affair, so Lou Jing was raised by a single mother. She is considered a talented singer, speaks fluent Mandarin and Shanghainese and is Chinese in every way except for her looks and skin color.
However, upon entering this competition, she was shocked to find rude racial epithets hurled against her on the Chinese blogosphere. Was she really Chinese? Quite a few people felt she was not. They condemned her for her skin color and her mother’s infidelity. Many comments were blatantly racist.
I first became aware of this story when James Fallows mentioned it in his Atlantic blog. He wrote, “To be clear about the context: this is not a “blame China” episode but rather one of many illustrations of the differences in day by day social realities and perceived versus ignored sources of tension in particular societies. That’s all to say about it for now.” I want to explore those tensions further.
Few years ago I visited Chengdu and drove all the way to Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟). I got a chance to see the pristine side of Sichuan province and a number of local performances. I stumbled upon this music video by Tibetan Chinese singer, Kelsang Metok (格桑梅朵), “Falling in Love with Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟).” It gives a great intro to that region and reminded me of many things I saw during that trip. Continue reading »
This is the full session between Niall Ferguson and James Fallows at the recently held Aspen Ideas Festival. Allen had posted excepts and we promised you the complete discussion as soon as it became available. Niall Ferguson had coined the term “Chimerica” to describe the symbiotic relationship between the economies of China and the United States. He currently sees this relationship as being in jeopardy, while James Fallows feels the relationship is far stronger the most realize. This video is slightly over 75 minutes.
We’ve done some posts on China and Taiwan music in the past, but those were about the general music scene. Today I’d like to feature two videos created by Brendan Madden, who lives in Qingdao, is a teacher and member of the band Dama Llamas, and keeps up with the scene in northern China. I’ll also feature a few other bands you might not know, and some comments about where I think things are headed.
These two mini-documentaries show the trials and tribulations of trying to establish modern music venues in China. So far, the audience has too many non-Chinese expats along with too few locals, though locals form most of the bands themselves. Right now, Beijing is the hot spot in northern China with the most popular bands in the country. Outside of Beijing, legitimate venues are hard to come by and the money isn’t very lucrative. In these places, rock n’ roll comes strictly from the heart.
Personally I think this is someone who enjoys his job, or otherwise woke up with a spring in his step that day.
I certainly love my job. People often see work differently, and that will be even more so whilst the global recession lasts where there’s less choice over where you can work and what you can do. But I would feel sad if I didn’t feel that I liked what I did every day.
What about you? Does work make you feel happy, or is it a means to an end? What about the other people in the country you live in?
There’s a new phenomenon sweeping China. Back in January on a Chinese web page, a new video made its way from there into the hearts of internet users all across the country, spawning a wave of related items such as cartoons, documentaries and grass-mud horse dolls.
New Star sinking near Russia's far-eastern port of Vladivostok. Three Chinese crew members were rescued and 7 others were missing, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Four days ago, it was widely reported on the front page of almost every Chinese newspaper that Russian warships had sunk a Chinese cargo ship – New Star – off the coast of Vladivostok. According to an article from the People’s Daily, Continue reading »
We covered China’s underground music scene in a previous thread and with the new year approaching, I wanted to introduce some alternative artists from Taiwan.I’m sure everyone already knows the most popular Mando-pop stars, so here are a few that are a little less known. Most of these musicians either made their debuts or saw an upsurge in their popularity over the course of 2008. An article I read recently in the Taipei Times was the initial catalyst in my search for finding newer artists.