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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Chinese Artists, Tian Zhen (田震), etc.

Chinese I have met as a teacher often ask what my favorite Chinese songs are. Besides having an interest in traditional music (I like the sound of Henan opera), as far as popular music, I have not come across many artists that I like, partly because of a lack of exposure, partly because of a lack of my ability to identify the artists I like to find out more about, and partly because of what seems to be a large focus on pop music in the country. I do like some pop music, and there are some good songs. "Zui langmande shi" (The Most Romantic Thing" is a very, very sweet song about how growing old together is just that (the most romantic thing--not growing old!)--Chinese have sweetness and/or subtlety down to an art form (or many). There are other catchy tunes like "Zou ba" (let's go), and a whole lot of other things I enjoy when I hear. There's a hip hop artist Jay Chou who has some songs that I think could be popular with Western hip hop fans (I believe Wyclef Jean praised/worked with Jay Chou for something or other). Very artful.

However, this is often not the general style of music that I like to just keep on as I'm working--usually light rock I guess. One artist I do highly and consistently enjoy though (and which inspired the post) is Tian Zhen (田震). This is a very versatile artist. Lots of interesting instrumental sounds, and such a captivating voice, that when I heard her singing on television once, I had to ask my wife to buy it for me (the song, not the tv). As with most artists, there are certain songs I like better, but overall, this is an artist in a true sense, and most of whose music I can just let run...

And while I'm highlighting Chinese arts, there is a television series which, from what I could understand of it at least, really deserved some serious awards and must be translated into English. "Chang hui jia kan kan". The title means "Come home often and visit" and features a lightly soul-wrenching (don't know how else to describe it) song from a mother wishing her son to come home often and visit. It has a very professional cast, extremely sensitive, and also some great humor, especially from an Academy-award-worthy actor playing a mentally challenged adult. (Though Academy Awards might not be the standard to shoot for.)

Either Chinese need to be bolder, I think, in recognizing there must be at least some market out there in the West for their often touching/sensitive arts (not just the crappy ones that mainstream audiences in the West often esteem--shiver) or some Westerners have to pick up and work to import some of this stuff. The show above was not available in English, as are many other well-produced programs. When is globalization going to be more of a 2-way street? Hopefully someone after surfing through the Crime fictions on TV, the Crime forensic science programs, the crime news, and the Court channels in the U.S. will be inspired to provide a different dose of reality; one which is both good for you but also is very artfully done. (This is not to say there are not violent programs here, btw (usually only with rare violence though)--there actually seems to be some things like real bloodiness, wife slapping, etc. which is rightfully not shown as commonly on regular TV in the U.S., but it is more rare and usually part of a more broad program.)



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