Monthly Press Review – 1 (February 2024)

I’m trying a new format, a press review of what happened regarding popular music in the Sinophone world, so I don’t forget stuff and can finally close some tabs on my phone. Since it’s the first one, I will be reviewing what happened in the past few months, and not only February 2024.

The MayDay lip-syncing scandal

In December 2023, the famous Taiwanese pop-rock band MayDay 五月天 was accused of lip-syncing some of their songs during a concert in Shanghai. A Bilbili user analyzed in the video-sharing platform 12 songs recorded during the concert and estimated that the Taiwanese band lip-synced at least 5 songs: see this article by The Standard. The problem is that lip-syncing is in theory forbidden according to the Regulations on the Management of Commercial Performances in China, so the band could be fined for deceiving the audience.

The lip-syncing accusation soon became an international scandal, as it was seen as a move for China to interfere in the Taiwanese presidential election of January 2024 (it obviously failed as William Lai was elected). According to CNN, Taiwan security officials have claimed that the investigation into the lip-syncing allegation was a retaliation from the Chinese authorities, as they “had for months pressured Mayday to publicly declare that both China and Taiwan belong to the same country”. The BBC wrote that the Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office has dismissed the reports as “fake news” and a “complete fabrication”.

In January the popular music researcher Chen Yu-lin wrote a very complete article on the scandal, “Beyond Mayday’s Lip-synching Investigation: Taiwan’s Music Freedom Questioned Under PRC Influences“.


Another China/Taiwan concert controversy

Already in October, another controversy arose during a concert of a Taiwanese indie band, The Shine&Shine&Shine&Shine 閃閃閃閃, in China, according to a SETN article. The singer said that the band was very happy “to perform in China for the first time”, angering the audience who thought they implied that Taiwan and China were not the same country. The supporting band, punk-rock veterans Curry 3000 咖喱3000 decided not to play after them, and shared afterwards a nationalist message on Weibo, stating that “there is only one China”. “All In For Freedom”?


Zhang Yuan’s classic Beijing Bastards censored in Hong Kong (or at least its title)

Not music per se, but Zhang Yuan’s classic movie Beijing Bastards (北京雜種, 1993), which depicts the life of underground rockers in Beijing (with the guest appearances of Cui Jian, Dou Wei, He Yong etc.), was programmed at M+, a Hong Kong museum and visual center. While the title was originally printed in the program, M+ asked the filmmaker to change the name of the movie, because of politically sensitive issues (an article in Artnet suggests that “some pronunciations of bastard in Cantonese Chinese, which is widely spoken in Hong Kong, sound very similar to the phrase “Chief Xi.” This could be seen as a barely veiled reference to China’s leader Xi Jinping”). The title was thus erased from the program, only “a film by Zhang Yuan” was left. Beijing Bastards was never shown in Chinese cinemas, as it was never submitted to the China Film Bureau for approval of its theatrical release (but could be screened unofficially at events or bars and found in any pirate DVD store throughout China).

Beijing Bastards is on YouTube by the way.

“A Film by Zhang Yuan” (張元作品), the title of Beijing Bastards on the M+ webpage.


Buddha Machine

An article in The Wire written by Steve Barker on the history of FM3’s Buddha Machine, a sonic adventure from Beijing to Hong Kong and Xiamen. There’s also a short documentary on the Buddha Machine released 9 years ago:


Chinese rock bands in advertisements

An article in Dao Insight about the Beijing indie-rock band The Molds, who partnered with a lingerie brand, Aimer. The band’s song “Blue Moon” was heavily featured in the TV series “The Long Season” (漫長的季節) last year.

On the same website, another music band/Chinese company team-up: Vareihnaz, an indie folk group from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and Lenovo:

In November, Second Hand Rose 二手玫瑰 (the big winner of The Big Band’s last season), was the face of JD.com’s Double 11 campaign


Wutiaoren takes on the world

An article in the Singaporean newspaper The Straits Times about Wutiaoren’s concert in the city-state. Lots of plastic bags were apparently waived by the audience. After the second season of The Big Band, Wutiaoren have begun to tour the world, invited everywhere, even at the Fairbanks Center for Chinese Studies for a lecture entitled “What China’s Coolest Rock Band Can Tell Us About the Nation’s Cultural Shifts”:


This Town Indeed Needs

A very interesting article in HKFP on UN.TOMORROW, a Hong Kong indie music collective which tries to organize indie and underground concerts in a constraint environment. The article talks about the difficulties faced by indie bands in Hong Kong, after the closure of the Hidden Agenda or This Town Needs

SCMP also wrote an article on UN.TOMORROW and their next big event on March 9-10, with Arches, Code, David Boring, The Crush and Wellsaid.


Cui Jian on the Power of Rock

A (pay-walled) interview with Cui Jian, the pioneer of Chinese rock, in The Wire China.


Interview with the metal band A.S.S. 忘了愛

An interview in New Noise Magazine of A.S.S. or 忘了愛, a “Dirty Freaky Extreme Metal Rock Punk Grindcore Band from Beijing China” who just released their first album, I Wanted to Fuck Her, But I Farted. For Valentine’s day, they released a new MV, “He Wants to Steal My Girlfriend”:


Hong Kong tries to get Swift

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee tries to attract major artists to boost the city economy and moral. Hong Kong is trying to get Taylor Swift or Coldplay, who all avoid Hong Kong during their Asia tours. The recent Messi debacle proves that even with all the money in the world, world class events can collapse…


Hanggai plays (and records an album) in Canada

The Inner-Mongolian folk band Hanggai rocks Richmond in Canada, and will record an new album in Vancouver in March (“The team said the natural landscape in Vancouver is similar to that in Inner Mongolia, making it a great place for them to focus on music production”).



Citer ce billet
Nathanel Amar (2024, 22 février). Monthly Press Review – 1 (February 2024). Scream For Life. Consulté le 25 mai 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/vvs2

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