I was just watching my favorite Chinese singer and thought to myself some things that might be worth sharing. Here is the singer:

What I was thinking about is how the popular music in the states – that is to say so called “pop” music especially, rap music, R&B and maybe to some extent rock that is somewhat everpresent – these days the stuff that is coming out is sometimes lewd and to my taste even when it is not lewd, fairly uninteresting and emotionally – not at all magnetic and alluring.  Concerning lewd music I feel like there is a kind of irony in that it seems to come partly from a sexual liberation impulse at at the same time, sometimes it seems to actually degrade the station and dignity, especially of women in a way which I find possibly “un-liberating”.  It may sometimes even contribute to attitudes among men which can be harmful.  I lived in China for a while and have visited several times since – sometimes for weeks.  I haven’t found any music there that degrades women except what has been imported and is in either Japanese or English.

It’s a contrast.  There isn’t much lewd music to be found in China and while some of the themes are the same, such as romantic love, the content is less childish and more moving, a little more surprising (unpredictable) and subtle. Even if it’s none of these things, it’s usually well – a little sweeter – the sentiment expressed seems somehow less hyperbolic and more simple-hearted and expressive. Admittedly many of the songs sound very naive, so there’s that.

There are huge themes that in our music have almost disappeared from the American landscape in most genres which still have a powerful hold on Chinese popular culture and this I think ads to the charm and bredth of the content. The most popular songs in China still sing about the countryside, about life, about the beauty of the land – of a particular place, or childhood, or home-town, of family and heartbreak. In that way it’s thematically something like old country music in the states – it reaches more through the breadth of life and it does so with a kind of modesty which leaves plenty of space for quieter thoughts and emotions.

About that modesty – I hope I’m no prude but look at and notice – don’t you think Teresa Teng is actually more attractive and alluring with her less barbie-doll shape and much more modest – if a bit sparkly and gaudy (hey – it’s the entertainment industry we are talking about) attire? Isn’t this woman sort of doing really well, without having to try so hard in other words? In fact, isn’t that why she is so attractive because she isn’t exhibiting herself, she is just singing and singing well and with feeling and simply making contact with the audience by emoting and also by dressing up some?

I just wanted to point some of these things out in the vein of “less is more” – I hope I don’t sound prudish or that I have misrepresented either culture. Open to corrections. But let me just admit – I’m not saying “all” our music is a certain way or anything of the sort. Of course there is an infinite amount of great music probably in most countries including our own. I’m more talking about general sweeping trends of who tends to get propped up and who gets air time, and what kind of stuff people are able to easily find. To this I can say that to my own ears, the most popular music radio stations and TV stations in China tend to be something I find really refreshing when I lived there and I thought I’d comment.

Now, here is my favorite song by her – Tian Mi Mi:

American cover of same song with English subtitles:

Of course I love all sorts of music and all sorts of American styles – I couldn’t listen to only Chinese Pop – but I just feel like I notice some “pigments” for lack of a better word that we might be missing out on in the popular culture here. Thoughts? Response?

P.S.  Now it is 2016.04.13, seven days after I originally posted this.  I’m changing the title from “Not to pick on our culture but ..” to “Try” after a song by Colby Caillat I heard for the first time today which expresses perhaps more eloquently than I – some of the points I had wanted to convey.  I was inspired by how the singer during the video begins removing all her make up.  It was in a way – a brave way to punctuate the video.


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