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

Sinology Sunday: Tang Dynasty Funeral Address for a Donkey


A painting by China’s most well-known donkey artist, Huang Zhou 

This  Funeral Address for Donkey 祭驴文 from the Dunhuang Library Cave made me tear up, so here’s the translation.

The scroll is dated to be from the 7th to the 10th Century and is currently at the British Library. See the original  here.

Continue reading

Translation Tuesday: Shu Ting’s To Oak


Love –
not only loving your majestic figure,
but also the stance you firmly hold,
the earth under your feet.

To Oak 致橡树 is a classic love poem that paints love as two trees standing side-by-side, supporting each other while remaining individuals, a love that is based on a common faith and goal that is beyond the surface.    Misty Poet Shu Ting wrote the poem in response to a traditional view of  love based on idolization and self-sacrifice, in particular by the female in the relationship.

I’m going to apologize in advance appropriating feminist poetry for a pair coming out of an amazing but unfortunately misogynist production team, but this poem fits the platonic love that is Ming Lou (Jin Dong) and Ming Cheng (Wang Kai) in The Disguiser so much.  So close are their dreams that they can finish each other’s paintings of their ideal home; so deep their trust that they have had absolutely no secrets to each other even though they’ve had not a single honest conversation with anyone else in the show; so connected their souls that the main mode of communication is gazing into each other’s eyes.

To Oak
by Shu Ting
translated by idarklight

If I were to love you —
I would never be the vines of the morning glory,
borrowing your tall branches to flaunt myself
Continue reading

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

[Lyrics] Zeng Yike – A woman’s secret

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 7.58.58 PM

Guo Biting guest stars in this beautiful MV directed by Peng Youwei.

That’s the secret of a woman,
she wants to be held but wants to breath
you think she wants you,
that’s the secret of a woman,
she wants to love you but not belong to you
She belongs to herself

Continue reading