First of all, it’s eight minutes. Say what you want about “Survival,” London’s official Olympics song, but at least Muse had the courtesy to stop at a reasonable five minutes and 20 seconds. For what is essentially an overproduced, commercialized ditty, what couldn’t you possibly do in five minutes that you need eight?
Actually, we know the answer: you couldn’t squeeze in “more than 100 singers and movie stars from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland,” according to Sina. It’s an orgy of excess, and like most orgies, the participants come off as awkward and trying too hard, and no one gets the attention they deserve.
Jackie Chan, the video’s centerpiece, is paraphrased in the Sina article as saying “celebs were desperate to get their chance to play a part in the song.” That’s too bad. The song’s producers should have been a bit more discerning. Or written more lyrics. The song consists of 140 characters, and it only takes about 90 seconds to get through them. These same lyrics are repeated five times. It’s an Andy Kauffman skit without any intent at humor. For crying out loud, the final six lines all rhyme on the same two-letter sound: bi/qi/ti/ni/yi/di.
I feel bad for everyone involved, most of all for those who can actually sing — because a lot of the performers are jaw-droppingly tone deaf. Under-planned and under-edited, Best Wishes feels like the work of a soulless music label recycling last decade’s hits because it just can’t be forced to give a shit. Normally it’s cute when some culture-related subbranch of this government commissions a cuddly and soft-power-y project, but this… this abomination… why, while listening, do I conjure the image of a wombat trying to be a kitten? No, wet wombat, I do NOT want to see you roll on the ground or bat your toy mouse. I don’t want you in my house. I don’t want you to imitate a purr. Because you’re terrible.
The lyrics are decent though. Here they are:
Composer: 常石磊 (Chang Shilei)
Producer: 赵兆 (Zhao Zhao)
北京欢迎你 欢迎你 给世界无与伦比
北京祝福你 祝福你 激励每一天传奇
(Chinese to English translations errors are mine)
Love is like a globe turning round and round
How far is Beijing from the world? Within hand’s reach
Love streaks across orbits, longitude to latitude, pole to pole
Dispersing the flames of the Great Wall from east to west
Beijing welcomes you, welcomes you, gives the world the incomparable
Beijing blesses you, blesses you, encourages a new saga every day
Beijing blesses you, on the city walls we’ll speak on the same page
Pray and wave banners and flags, and blossom, you and me
Beijing blesses you, under the starry sky hangs fully the rosy clouds of four seas
Brilliant, boundless, sharing a drink with heaven and earth
(With help from Alicia)
If you’re up for any more ridiculousness, here’s a behind-the-scenes making-of Best Wishes From Beijing video.