Lyrics Translation: Hua Mulan selection

Brother Liu, you speak without reason
How can one say women enjoy leisure without labor?
Men fight on the borders,
while women spin and weave at home.

Lyrics translation for one of my favorite pieces of Chinese opera, a selection from Yu Opera Hua Mulan. The piece is a rare take on Mulan that points out the strength of women lie not just in their ability to succeed in traditionally male-dominated fields, but also in the often over-looked importances of traditionally female occupations. Plus, it’s easily one of the most catchy opera pieces.

Performance of the selection by Peng Liyuan:

Continue reading

Lyric translation: Visiting the Qingshui River

Remember how the post on Chinese names mentioned most people use their ming as their first name? Guo Degang’s students are some of the last exceptions in entertainment.  Everyone who studies under Guo Degang receives a zi when they’re deemed worthy. Zhang Yunlei’s Yunlei and his partner Yang Jiulang’s Jiulang are both zi.

A criticism of opium addiction and the oppressive social order during the late Qing dynasty, Beijing folk ballad  Visiting the Qingshui River 探清水河 tells the tragedy of a pair of star-crossed lovers.

If the song sounds familiar, it might be because it uses the same tune as Qinhuai River of film The Flowers of War.

Zhang Yunlei singing his popular abridged guitar version with fans:

Continue reading

M.I.C. boyband might have released their last song

This beautiful dream is without regrets, so let us never wake.
The promises we’ve made, do you still remember them?
They won’t be forgotten, so let them remain.
Please continue to sing, for the years of our youth.

I was waiting for a MV for this song, but I don’t think they’re going to do that, so here it is. The catchy folk ballad, Years of Our Youth 年华,is penned by ladybros Tan Jianci and Steelo Zhao Yongxin to commemorate the  ten years of M.I.C.’s lives together.

The few M.I.C. fans there still exists probably already know this, but their ten-year-contract ended last December, and it was not renewed.  Tan Jianci and Aero Xiao Shunyao both signed under Wu Xiubo’s acting agency and will most likely focus on acting. The other three remains in Taihe Rye as solo artists. I’m not 100% sure what’s going on with them because they’re all clearly in love as of this weekend, and seem to not rule out them performing together.

Listen to their other two songs from their potentially last EP here and here.

 

Continue reading

[Lyrics] Among the Peach Blossoms

I use the mountains as my canvas,
I control the waterfalls with my paintbrush,
From up to downstream,
the stream carries my flow
So dope it makes the world jealous

The imagery painted in  Among the Peach Blossoms 桃之夭夭 are some of the best so far out of the often rambling Zhao Yongxin. Complete with a rap in literary Chinese, lines sung in the style of Yi folk songs, zhongguofeng-arrangement,  and weird English lyrics,  the song is like a huge smorgasbord  of Zhao Yongxin’s mind.

The song  was inspired by a late-night literary talk show that Zhao Yongxin watched that used the title of the song, 桃之夭夭. He loved the imagery of the word, and so  a few days later,  he called up  buddy  Zhang Jinghao (Yaoband)  and they wrote it in one night. To be honest, Zhang Jinghao probably wrote that best verse since it sounds like his style.

 

See that waterlily emerging out of the water,
Who can resist but fall in love with its reflections in the pond.
The rainbow among the rose-blush* skies,
Can also know the flames of a mortal life*,
Crazy like me.

 

How long must I wait
After the clouds gather and the rain falls, *
After the winds blow and the snow falls, *
Who will lose guard,*

When tomorrow’s moon comes,
Who will share a drink with me.
I pick up my paintbrush, ready to compose,
The ink drops from the paintbrush
The tear drops from the heart-broken man.

 

Among the peach blossoms*
Sailing with the flow
Among the quaint landscapes,
South of the clouds *
I use the mountains as my canvas,
I control the waterfalls with my paintbrush,
From upstream to downstream,
the stream carries my flow
So dope it makes the world jealous *

*cool literary Chinese  rap here*
*too hard to translate *

QED: With you by my side, I can block out the entire world.
I’m a well-endowed man.
I’m rich man, the wise will know.
Excite me more,
Stimulate me more
What time is it?
I don’t care.*!*

* 胭脂 is rouge used as blush/lip cream in ancient China. Can be used to refer to feminine beauty.
*人间烟火 Literally the foods of mortals (as opposed to immortals who are too good for mortal food).
*翻云覆雨 comes from a poem by Du Fu complaining about how  some people’s attitude to relationships are as unpredictable as the weather
*风花雪月 – originally  used to describe vacuous poetry describing the scenery, it was later  used to describe decadent lifestyles and romances. Historically used with a negative connotation, the term has been used positively in recent years.
*翻云覆雨之后风花雪月失守 Knowing M.I.C., I’m going to guess this line is a fancy metaphor for either stormy sex, a relationship where one side got tricked into sleeping with the other one, or both.
*明月几时有 comes from a poem by Su Shi that asks when was the bright moon first created? The poem compare the waning and waxing of the moon to the uniting and separation of people on Earth. I translated it using a very literal take  to make sense of it with the next line.
*桃之夭夭 is a reference to a Zhou dynasty song  in the Book of Songs that compares a bride to the rosiness of the peach blossoms
*Zhao Yongxin is from the province Yunnan, which literally translate to South of the Clouds.
*some  creative license used in translating 世人妒之

*!* As I was translating this last segment, it dawned on me that this entire song could just be about Zhao Yongxin finally getting in the pants of a woman he’s like for a long time, and all that gorgeous scenic imagery could actually just be a fancier metaphor than watering your vase in My Place.

I demand a personal apology from  Zhao Yongxin and  Zhang Jinghao for tricking me.

 

M.I.C. Xiaoxin, Jianci, puppy perform Ladybro live!

I guess no one wears the pants in this relationship.

If you want to fanservice right, the least you could do is get rid of the blanket.

Watching Xiaoxin chase an over-hyper Jianci around the stage while carrying a 50 pound dog was totally worth getting up early and sitting through a hour of terrible lives.

M.I.C.‘s  Zhao Yongxin and Tan Jianci  finally performed  their duet Bestie/Ladybro live, this time remixed with Xiaoxin’ solo Super Daddy.  Both songs are written and produced by the ridiculously talented Xiaoxin and arranged by Elemum Chau. Someday, Xiaoxin, I’ll hold my own award ceremony and you’ll get best producer.

Live below, English translation of lyrics, and more photos below the cut.  Let’s be honest, the best part was Bass’ wtf face the entire time.

Continue reading

[Lyrics] The brightest star in the night sky

The most popular song of 2014 was not a pop song, but one released in 2011 by indie band Escape Plan.   “The brightest star in the night sky 夜空中最亮的星” resonated with listeners with its catchy tune and lost but still hopeful lyrics, and the song slowly gained a cult following. The song was later covered in various singing competitions, notably Zhang Jie in I am Singer 2 and Zhang Hengyuan in The Voice of China 2.  Three highly recommended versions (harmonica, Qin Lan, Qin Lan and child) also appear in the eeMedia musical Journey to the Song & War.  

English translation by me:
Continue reading

Unexpected Collaboration: Chen Chusheng ft. MC Hotdog


Drunk 《醉》, featuring rapper MC Hotdog, is the second single from Chen Chusheng‘s (陈楚生) new album I Know You Are Not Far 《我知道你离我不远》.

The Huayi Music artist first rose to fame with his début single Has Anyone Told You 《有没有人告诉你》 after winning Super Boys 2007. Chen Chusheng’s last album Addiction 《瘾》 was in 2011, though many of his compositions were in Huayi Movies during this almost 3 year hiatus. The full album is available for listen on sina.

I thought I would never get drunk
Falling into this feeble defense
Chewing up those self-righteous dreams
Swallowing up the city’s petty lies

I thought I was flying high
I forgot that I was falling down
I need to shut my troublesome mouth
Hugging my stable legs for support

Let the rain pound against my face
Shaming this sinister mind
Never a follower
I must follow my own route
How can I care about these tiny injuries
I am not afraid of walking alone in the dark
Loneliness allows me to hear my inner voice
I buried my youth on this uneven road
I am willing – I accept
The sin of self-righteousness

Continue reading

Laure Shang lights up dreams in “The Star”

The Star

Do you remember your  childhood  dreams?

As a part of the “Firefly Project” that aims to light up areas unreached by electricity supply, Laure Shang sings of the innocence of childhood her self-composed song of “The Star.”   The song praises the pure and carefree dreams of children, and ends asking the listener to lay in bed once more to look to the stars and remember their truest selves, the child within them that has yet gotten lost in the outside world.  Also listen to the live version with Hua Chenyu here, where he literally lights up.

Continue reading