Drop what you're doing and watch this, Beijingers. Mark Griffith, a photographer and videographer who used to live in Beijing, has just released the fruit of 15 months of work, "Beijing State of Mind," set to Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind. The project was the brainchild of Andrew Dougherty, an expat who'd lived off and on here for five years. Rapping alongside Princess Fortier (in the role of Alicia Keys), the duo take us on a trip from the Forbidden City to the hutongs to the Great Wall to The Place, and so many other places in between that make our Beijing experience what it is.
Ai Weiwei has managed to upset and alienate many groups during his reign as China’s national gadfly, particularly within the past five years, a period in which the 55-year-old's public profile has swelled to supernova proportions. A respondent brought up the "Ai Weiwei Effect" in last month’s roundup of critical reactions to Ai Weiwei and Zuoxiao Zuzhou’s song “Dumbass,” and on the eve of the release of The Divine Comedy -- the six-song album on which Dumbass appears -- it's worth asking again: how do we perform aesthetic analysis of the outspoken artist-cum-activist's work when our perceptions are so colored by sentiment?
Ai Weiwei Studios has just released the music video to a second single, Laoma Tihua, which you can watch above. It's off Ai's forthcoming album, The Divine Comedy (music by Zuoxiao Zuzhou), which will be released on Saturday morning.
This is first-class: on a plane stuck on the Beijing airport tarmac for three hours yesterday, a quartet of musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestras took out their instruments, gathered in the aisle, and serenaded passengers. The music starts at the 1:11 mark in the above.
You may have already heard, but after several false starts -- years of teasing -- Metallica is finally, actually coming to China. As the band announced yesterday on its website:
It is so rare for us to be able to say that we are visiting a country for the very first time, so this is an extra special announcement for us. After over 31 years of traveling to almost all corners of the world for so many amazing, wild and thrilling adventures, we will finally be heading to China!! We’ll be hitting the stage in Shanghai at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on August 13.
We know laowai song-and-dance videos are passe -- thanks, Jesse Appel, et al. -- but the effort in this latest one is simply too rich to ignore. Matt Sheehan -- who you recognize around these parts as the China Eastern airport rumble writer -- teamed up with his friend Matt Allen to write, direct, shoot, and produce "We Livin in Xi'an," and the result is a perfectly outlandlish little paean to the capital of Shaanxi province, and perhaps the foreigner experience in China.
By now, you’re probably familiar with Ai Weiwei’s “Dumbass," the Beijing-born artist-cum-activist’s widely-publicized collaborative heavy metal music video with Zuoxiao Zuzhou that was unveiled last week to promote the pair’s upcoming full-length effort, The Divine Comedy.
Directed by well-known Australian cinematographer Christopher Doyle -- you may recognize his work with Zhang Yimou and Wong Kar-Wai -- the highly-polished video offers a surrealistic interpretation of the 81 days that Ai, 55, reportedly spent in detention in mid-2011 for tax evasion
Ai Weiwei's 81 days in detention in 2011 is the inspiration for his latest work, "Dumbass," a song he wrote with music by rocker/artist Zuoxiao Zuzhou. The accompanying video was released minutes ago, in which he recreates scenes from his imprisonment. "He also portrays fantasies he imagines flitting through the guards’ minds," reports the NY Times. The cinematography is by Christopher Doyle, who has worked with the likes of Wong Kar-wai.
Jonathan Alpart, who legitimately cares about Chinese music for Chinese music's sake, is the one-man driving force behind The Sound Stage, a bilingual show that spotlights local bands you might also care about. This week, he profiles Second Hand Rose, a musical favorite that's been around for 13 years and counting. "No other group blends Chinese elements and sounds with rock and roll music so seamlessly," Alpart writes.
Last week I got an invite to roll with some musician buddies up at Midi Festival and decided it’d be a great opportunity to grab a camera and capture the people and fashions that only “the biggest rock festival” in China can provide.
Undeterred by the lack of a fucking functional website, the promise of awe-inspiring traffic, and the threat of hours of shitty metal, I took a whiskey-soaked ride up to the Beijing Yuyang International Ski Resort and brought back photos from the Pulp Fiction/Sid and Nancy/The Last Waltz/skate video some kids from Ohio would make/Betty Boop/Hot Topic Lookbook fever dream that was Midi Festival 2013.
BJC contributor Chris Clayman attended the Dali Erhai World Music Festival in Yunnan province from April 29 – May 1. His dispatch follows. A Cop with a Weird Haircut We’re standing near the fortune teller when Lin Dan shows us something. “I’m a cop,” he says. He pulls out his wallet and holds it close to... Read more »
Many fans of Chinese rock music have heard of the band Rustic, the members of which became stars on the scene only a few years ago when they unexpectedly won the Global Battle of the Bands competition in London. They play a catchy blend of cock rock and old-school punk, and their show antics make... Read more »
Ah, music festival season in China. With the balmy climes and fluffy white cottonwood pollen comes the annual rumor mill about which bold-faced recording artists are slated to perform at the summertime’s numerous annual kickoff events, which have been denied performance permits, and general conspiratorial grumblings about why this is and who's to blame.
Peng Liyuan, who’s warming up to her role as China’s “First Lady” — a term that, lest you forget, has basically never been applied to the wives of Chinese leaders — is currently traveling with her husband in Africa as part of Xi Jinping’s first overseas trip as Chinese head of state, and it’d be... Read more »
Normal expat whining is grating and graceless, but let’s face it: it has its roots in something that we can all identify with.
China takes a lot out of you, demands a lot of you at times. Sure, there are those skating by with an absurd income-to-work ratio, people to whom China is a paid vacation punctuated by occasional encounters with the indigenous people who for some reason haven’t learned to speak English. But in any expat experience, there are certain unavoidable facts of life: you’re often out of your comfort zone, ostracized or just generally unable to make things happen.
Shanghai Restoration Project is an electronic group whose latest 12-track album, Pictures in Motion, features tributes to classic Hollywood films set in Shanghai. The "mostly original compositions" were "each inspired by a different movie from the era," according to the description on the above video.
Recently I received an email and link from a Chinese friend who wanted to share her love of what she called “traditional Chinese whistling music.” This is indeed melodic whistling music. But if you’re old and foreign enough, you may recall “Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?,” popularized in the late ’60s by the US folk duo Simon and... Read more »
We're fans of music here, so when Jonathan Alpart's latest episode of The Sound Stage on CRI found a band that describes itself as "Radiohead if they played the blues," we had to check it out. What do you think?
16 Minutes is the outfit. They ain't Radiohead, but the moral here is: aim high. Maybe you'll find yourself compared to Coldplay.
While CCTV insists on appealing to the largest demographic and sucking, we’d like to remind everyone that Hunan Satellite TV has decided to take a chance on mainland rock’s alpha and omega, Cui Jian, to perform on its New Year’s “Mango” Gala on February 4 (7:30 pm). Rumors have been flying in the press that Cui would “likely not be playing his famous... Read more »
Actually, there’s not much that’s humorous about these images of atmospheric carnage, but over the course of eons a uniquely human response to the ghastly and macabre has been to expectorate fleshy, puny, anthropoid sounds that in our language can be classified as “laughter.” Laugh away at this.