The stifled desires behind Acrush

Source: The New Yorker (7/1/17)
The Stifled Desires Behind Acrush, the Chinese Boy Band Made Up of Five Girls
By Jiayang Fan

The forces underlying Acrush’s gender fluidity are more complicated than they might appear from outside China. Courtesy YouTube

Just when you thought the boy-band phenomenon had finally run its course (in how many more directions can One Direction go?), a Chinese iteration goes and renovates the form. At first blush, the five members of Acrush (the “A” stands for Adonis, the Greek god of male beauty) resemble the prototypical Simon Cowell-culled group: boyishly handsome, impeccably groomed, freakishly flawless in a way that mortal teen-agers typically aren’t. There is, however, one difference. Underneath the leather jackets, Timberland boots, and conspicuously masculine posturing, the group is comprised of five cisgender girls. Continue reading

Godfather of Beijing’s indie music scene

Source: Caixin (6/10/17)
Godfather of Beijing’s Indie Music Scene Dissects China’s Experimental Soundscape
By Malcolm Surer

Michael Pettis is owner and founder of one of China’s biggest indie-rock record companies, Maybe Mars, and a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management. Photo: Ma Minhui/Caixin

Michael Pettis is owner and founder of one of China’s biggest indie-rock record companies, Maybe Mars, and a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management. Photo: Ma Minhui/Caixin

China’s alternative-punk music scene has evolved from a genre that represented the rebelliousness of a niche group of well-off educated urbanites to one that’s international, hip, and popular. Chinese bands now play to sold-out gigs not only in old “hutong” bars in Beijing, but also at some of the most popular clubs in New York.

The Chinese capital was a rock-free zone until the mid-1980s. But it’s underground music scene today runs the gamut from hip-hop to grunge to noise. Continue reading

China’s hottest ‘boy’ band (1)

Here’s another piece on Acrush.–Kirk

Source: NYT (5/20/17)
The 5 ‘Handsome Girls’ Trying to Be China’s Biggest Boy Band
点击查看本文中文版
By AMY QIN

The women of Acrush at a dance studio in Beijing in April. There are slick boy bands and foxy girl groups, but Acrush seeks to appeal to those who reject gender norms. CreditGilles Sabrié for The New York Times

BEIJING — In a small dance studio in Beijing, the members of China’s newest entry in the national pop-music pageant ran through a sequence of pulsing pelvic thrusts and choreographed crotch grabs.

After a three-minute workout, the group’s leader, Lu Keran, breathlessly asked the band’s manager: “Now can I go to the bathroom?” Continue reading

Du Yun wins Pulitizer

Source: NPR (4/10/17)
Du Yun Wins Music Pulitzer For ‘Angel’s Bone’
By TOM HUIZENGA

Du Yun, 39, has won the music Pulitzer for her opera Angel’s Bone. Matthew Jelacic/Courtesy of the artist

Du Yun, a 39-year-old composer, musician and performance artist, today won the Pulitzer Prize for music for her opera Angel’s Bone. The Pulitzer jury describes the piece as a bold work “that integrates vocal and instrumental elements and a wide range of styles into a harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world.” Angel’s Bone, which has a libretto by the versatile Royce Vavrek (Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves and David T. Little’s Dog Days), was commissioned by New York’s Prototype Festival and Trinity Wall Street, which staged the world premiere Jan. 6, 2016.

The opera tells of a middle-American couple who find a pair of angels dropped into their backyard. They nurse the angels back to health — only to clip their wings and exploit them for money. Continue reading

Dali’s music scene

Source: Sixth Tone (4/7/17)
Reinventing That Old Town Sound
Dali’s Old Town in rural Yunnan province is a refuge for wayward musicians, a bastion of ethnic folk traditions, and a quiet haven for avant-garde Chinese music.
By Josh Feola

Li Daiguo (left) and Wu Huanqing play music outdoors in Dali, Yunnan province, July 11, 2015. Wang Qiong for Wu Huanqing and Li Daiguo

YUNNAN, Southwest China — Nestled between the expansive Erhai Lake to the east and the picturesque Cang Mountains to the west, Dali Old Town is best known as a must-see destination on the Yunnan tourism map. From near and far, tourists flock to Dali for a glimpse of its scenic beauty and its rich cultural heritage, characterized by the high concentration of Bai and Yi ethnic minorities.

But beyond and beneath the waves of people swept up in the region’s ethnic tourism industry, Dali is quietly making a name for itself as a center of musical innovation. In recent years, Dali Old Town — which sits 15 kilometers from the 650,000-strong Dali city proper — has attracted an inordinate number of musicians from both within and outside of China, many of whom are eager to document the region’s musical traditions and repurpose them for new audiences. Continue reading

China’s hottest new “boy” band

Source: Quartz (3/30/17)
China’s hottest new boy band is actually made up of five androgynous girls
By Zheping Huang

Earlier this month, China’s social network giant Tencent held a series of music events called “Husband Exhibition” at Chinese universities. The idea was to showcase new pop stars who appear on the company’s online streaming site; the term “husband” is how China’s female fans refer to male pop stars who are so charming they fantasize about marrying them.

Enter Acrush, a hot new “boy band” that performed at the tour’s last stop in southern Zhejiang province, where the group is based.

They had one big surprise in store for fans: They’re not actually male. Continue reading

Feminist folk quartet

Source: Sixth Tone (3/29/17)
Feminist Folk Quartet Gives Voice to China’s Migrant Workers
By Yin Yijun

Duan Yu, Ren Juan, Xiong Ying, and Ma Wei pose for a photo in front of the violin shop where they rehearse in Beijing, Sept. 17, 2016. Courtesy of Jiu Ye

Duan Yu, Ren Juan, Xiong Ying, and Ma Wei pose for a photo in front of the violin shop where they rehearse in Beijing, Sept. 17, 2016. Courtesy of Jiu Ye

For a band that seek to depict the plight of migrant workers in today’s China, it was an odd choice of music. But like the other numbers in the Beijing-based quartet’s growing repertoire, the song resonates with generations of women both young and old who feel that the country’s fixation on economic development has left them few opportunities to make their voices heard. Continue reading

TFBOYS

A bit nauseating, but interesting from a media perspective.–Kirk

Source: Quartz (3/14/17)
China’s first successful home-grown boy band is incredibly wholesome
By Siyi Chen

Chinese entertainment companies and talent agents have been trying to create a home-grown megastar boy band for years. Now, it seems that they have finally succeeded, with a teenage boy band called The Fighting Boys, who sing about homework, winning a Nobel prize, and occasionally, songs like “We’re the future of Communism.” (Check out the video above to get an idea.)

So exactly how popular is this band? Continue reading

Spring Festival Survival Guide

Source: Sinosphere, NYT (1/27/17)
Surviving Chinese New Year With the Family: A Musical How-To
By DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW

《春節自救指南》- 上海彩虹室內合唱團 “A Spring Festival Survival Guide,” just in time for Chinese New Year’s reunions. Video by Rainbow Chamber Singers | 上海彩虹室内合唱团

BEIJING — Holidays can be joyful times, bringing together long-separated family members. They can also be the most dreaded times for precisely that reason. Things may go horribly wrong under the weight of mutual expectations, and escape is difficult. Continue reading

Cantopop queen on a crusade

Source: SCMP (9/18/16)
Denise Ho: the Cantopop Queen on a crusade against China’s Communist party
She has been labelled ‘Hong Kong poison’ by Beijing, which has also called for her to be boycotted, but the singer is determined to spread her message
By Tom Phillips in Hong Kong

Cantonese pop singer and activist Denise Ho speaks during an interview in Hong Kong.

Cantonese pop singer and activist Denise Ho speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

Denise Ho’s struggle against the Communist party of China began at 5.58pm on a Sunday afternoon. It was as the Hong Kong Cantopop queen watched aghast as live television images showed police fire the first of 87 canisters of teargas into a sea of pro-democracy demonstrators, in a botched bid to quell their protest.

“I couldn’t stand by and just watch everyone fight,” the 39-year-old pop star recalls of the clashes in September 2014 that sparked the former colony’s umbrella movement street occupation, two years ago next week. “I just had to stand up and to say something.” Continue reading

Core socialist values in song and dance

Source: Sinosphere, NYT (9/1/16)
China’s ‘Core Socialist Values,’ the Song-and-Dance Version
By KIKI ZHAO

BEIJING — The 12 “core socialist values” are memorized by schoolchildren, featured in college entrance exams, printed on stamps and lanterns, and splashed on walls across China. Now they have made their way into 20 song-and-dance routines that the authorities in Hunan Province plan to promote to the country’s millions of “square dancers,” the mostly middle-aged and older women who gather in public squares to perform in unison. Continue reading

Sounding the Modern Woman review

First, a correction regarding John Crespi’s review of A Modern Miscellany announced a few days ago on the list. That review was handled not by Jason McGrath, as I said, but by Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor. My apologies for the mistake.

I am pleased to announce publication of Victor Fan’s review of Sounding the Modern Woman: The Songstress in Chinese Cinema (Duke UP, 2015), by Jean Ma. The review appears below, but is best read online at:

http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/fan/

This review was indeed ushered to publication by Jason McGrath, our media studies book review editor, to whom I am grateful.

Enjoy,

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Sounding the Modern Woman:
The Songstress in Chinese Cinema

By Jean Ma


Reviewed by Victor Fan
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2016)


Jean Ma, Sounding the Modern Woman: The Songstress in Chinese Cinema. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015. 296 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8223-5876-3 (Paperback: $25.95); ISBN: 978-0-8223-5865-7 (Hardback: $94.95)

Jean Ma, Sounding the Modern Woman: The Songstress in Chinese Cinema. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015. 296 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8223-5876-3 (Paperback: $25.95); ISBN: 978-0-8223-5865-7 (Hardback: $94.95)

Film historians have long regarded the songstress as the single most important figure in Chinese cinema between the 1930s and 1960s.[1] Played by movie stars including Zhou Xuan周璇 (Chow Hsuen, 1918–57), Bai Guang 白光 (1921–99), Zhong Qing 鍾情 (Chung Ching, b. 1932), Yao Li 姚莉 (Yao Lee, b. 1922), and Ge Lan 葛蘭 (Grace Chang, b. 1933), these songstresses ranged from orphans of war, sex workers, temptresses, nightclub singers, and innocent country girls to the mambo girl, calypso girl, and air hostess. InSounding the Modern Woman (2015), Jean Ma goes beyond an investigation of this emblematic figure as a trope. For her, the songstress is not only an embodiment of the filmmakers’ and spectators’ changing ideas and imaginations of modernity during this period, she is also a discursive site and medium where conflicting values, aspirations, desires, and traumatic memories were actively negotiated (16). Continue reading

Zheng Jun’s ‘Rock Dog’

View the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpaVY8Zq9LQ –Kirk

Source: China Real Time, WSJ (6/30/16)
A Chinese Rock Star’s Hollywood Project: ‘Rock Dog’
By Lillian Lin

The 3-D film 'Rock Dog' follows a rock-loving Tibetan mastiff s journey to a big city to become a musician.

The 3-D film ‘Rock Dog’ follows a rock-loving Tibetan mastiff s journey to a big city to become a musician. PHOTO: HUAYI BROTHERS

Animation has long been a weak spot for China’s film industry. Now, a Chinese rock star is trying to change that, making an animated film for global audiences with Hollywood’s help.

Zheng Jun helmed “Rock Dog,” based on a popular namesake comic-book series he created and published in 2009.

The 3-D film, which follows a rock-loving Tibetan mastiff ’s journey to a big city to become a musician, was directed by Ash Brannon, who co-directed Pixar’s smash hit Toy Story 2 (1999), and animated by Reel FX, an award-winning American digital studio. Its English version is dubbed by a number of Hollywood veterans including the Oscar-winning actor J.K. Simmons. Continue reading

CR-style concert a trap for Xi Jinping

Source: SCMP (5/28/16)
Cultural Revolution-style concert was a well-laid trap for Xi Jinping
Kwan Hing-ling believes the organisers of the Beijing concert that created a public uproar had an ulterior motive – to put pressure on the Chinese president to reverse the official verdict on the decade of upheaval
By Kwan Hing-ling

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution. Reactions on the mainland had been muted at first, and the Chinese press did not seem particularly interested in reviewing the 10 years of devastating upheaval. But a “red-song concert” this month forced the whole of society to sit up.

“In A Field of Hope”, held on May 2 at the Great Hall of the People, featured performers singing and dancing to revolutionary songs popular during the Cultural Revolution, against a backdrop of propaganda posters and slogans. A display of such nostalgia for the Cultural Revolution – in the political centre of China at this politically sensitive time – raised the alarm for many people. Continue reading

Red songs controversy

Source: SCMP (5/6/16)
‘Whole world should unite to defeat the American invaders and their lackeys’: controversy sparked online by ‘red songs’ at concert in Beijing
Music from the turbulent period of the Cultural Revolution featured prominently at event at the Great Hall of the People
By Nectar Gan