Tonight I will be achieving one of my goals while living in China: I am going to see my favorite Chinese pop star Wang Leehom in concert!!
I’ve written about Wang Leehom several times on this blog, including this intro post and another post on the time I sang one of his songs to my students. And here in China my love for him is very well known. When Leehom announced his latest concert tour, I had several students telling me he was coming to Hangzhou, and then the day the tickets went on sale my student helper sat on her computer for 30 minutes waiting for the sale time. She was so fast she was the third person to buy tickets out of thousands of people!
And I’ve waxed poetic about Leehom, his musical ability and his super hotness, but he’s more than just a pretty face. He recently went on his first world tour and while in England gave a talk at Oxford about the importance of spreading Chinese pop music to the west as a means of a better world. I usually only hear him speak in Chinese so it is especially interesting for me to hear him speak English. (He’s an American, btw.)
This is his talk on youtube
This is his talk on tudou (with chinese subtitles)
I like his metaphor, about roommates that don’t get along (one hogging all the hot water and being noisy at night) vs the roommates that are different, but deal with the differences and ultimately have a better experience because of each other. Because it’s true. American culture is the big guy in the room. The one that calls the shots and sets the fashion trends and styles. But it doesn’t mean the little guys should be ignored.
We need to hear the other voices, the new sounds and experiences, even if it is ‘strange’ or ‘weird.’ I’ll admit that I do have a bit of trouble getting into chinese pop music (although I’m not the biggest fan of western pop music either) because it is just not my aesthetic. But I’m trying, and I’m going to keep trying because I think these things should be heard. And I think different kinds of music should spread around the world (not just american music spreading everywhere) because it will ultimately benefit us all.
And in my effort, here are a few Wang Leehom songs I especially like. Hope you like them too! (Youtube videos, sorry you need a VPN is you are in China.)
This is my favorite music video of his. The title is something like “I totally have no reason to care about you.” It was written in response to critics and music “experts” (who, I think, talked smack about him.)
This is his most epic, kung-fu video. It’s a tad silly but I still like it.
This is more love songy than the others. But you get to see him mix traditional instruments with the modern song which I like, and you get to see him play the guzhen a bit.
Writer. Traveler. Tea Drinker.Writer. Traveler. Tea Drinker. Doing all three in China
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Good cheesy, right? 😉
Thanks for that video of Wang’s Oxford address, it was interesting. I think the mission he has set for himself is a bit too ambitious, though. Given the ongoing tensions between the US and China, it would take a lot more than a shared appreciation of music to bring the two conflicting cultures together. In any case, China’s pop music simply doesn’t yet have a level of sophistication that would enable it to appeal to a wider Western audience.
That said, my opinion of Wang Leehom has just been raised after watching his address. Clearly, he’s not your average dumbass pop star.