Saturday, December 24, 2011

Taiwanese Music: Mandarin Pop

The Ugliest Band in the World:  Rolling Stones 2011
I was born a long time ago.  I grew up in the sixties and ran with a slightly older crowd.  So I was hip to the music of my generation.  I was a fan of the "British Invasion" bands.  I was into the Stones, Who couldn’t like songs like “Brown Sugar” or “Can’t you hear me knocking.”  Then there was Cream and “Sunshine of your Love,” or “White Room.”  Man, I thought Ginger Baker was the greatest drummer alive. I dug the Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Who are You,” and “We’re not Gonna Take It, (from Tommie),” among others.  Pete Townsend just wailing on the guitar, windmill arms, the whole thing.   I even liked some of the Beatles stuff.  But interestingly enough, as I examined the songs that I liked by the Beatles, they turned out to be songs by John Lennon:  “Revolution,” “Back in the USSR.”  Then there was Traffic, “Low Spark of the High-Heeled Boys,” “Shootout at the Fantasy Factory,” “John Barleycorn Must Die.”  Stevie Winwood was awesome, so was Dave Mason, with his excellent version of “Are You Feeling Alright,” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Don’t forget American/Canadian Musicians like Neil Young, “Rust Never Sleeps” was an inspired album, but the really unforgettable stuff was “Cinnamon Girl,” and “Cowgirl in the Sand.  And Van Morrison, “Moondance,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and my personal favorite “Tupelo Honey.”  His vocal quality on those songs was excellent.  What about Leon Russell with his version of “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.”  Then there was the obvious hero of the sixties, Bob Dylan, anything with his name on it is worth hearing, from “Like a Rolling Stone” to “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”  I also liked the Christian Songs he did like, “Slow Train Coming,” and “Saved!” 

But those are days gone by.  It just isn’t the same to see old men strutting around on stage with their shirts off.  When did the Rolling Stones become the ugliest band in the world?  I’m sorry, but these guys are looking a little worse for wear, if you ask me, although I will say that I’m not so hot anymore, either.  We all age, after all, some more gracefully than others, I guess.  But this isn’t what I sat down to write about.  I was just just thinking about some of the old songs as I was sitting here and got caught up in the moment; reliving my golden youth.

Rick Braun
My tastes have sort of mellowed these days.  I listen to smooth jazz if I listen to anything at all.  Rick Braun, Norman Brown, Peter White and David Benoit are among my favorites.  I guess my taste in music has always been pretty eclectic:  Everything from Mozart to Michael Jackson.  I’ve never really been much of a pop music fan, though.  I’m still not much of a pop music fan.  The songs all sound sort of the same.  Geez, that’s the same thing my dad said about Rock and Roll. 

Maybe I just haven’t really put any energy into listening to them.  That’s really the issue.  That’s the same thing my dad was guilty of; he never really listened.  So I guess, I’m my dad; I could think of worse things to be.  In fact, my dad was a pretty great man.  My kids seem to enjoy the current pop music, so hey, it’s probably me.

There’s pop music in Taiwan.  It has it’s own style and some of it isn’t bad.  The thing that’s nice about it is that it’s pretty positive for the most part.  Good looking kids singing songs about life and love, that’s what all pop is about anyway isn’t it? 

Taiwanese young people listen to pop music from around the world.  There’s K-pop, J-pop, and American Pop.  Just think I traveled halfway around the world and I still hear Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” everywhere I go.  I have to admit that I guess I kind of like the Biebs.  I think he’s a pretty talented kid.  He’s also a good-looking kid, although he needs to bulk up a bit.  I think it’s amusing that everyone talks about how much they hate him and then his shows sell out in about seventeen minutes.  All of his fans can’t be under ten can they?

Is he or isn't he?  You decide
Anyway, I digress, some of the popular pop singers here are also, “idol drama” stars.  What’s an idol drama? Basically it's a drama or soap opera designed for teenage girls that star pop idols, like Rainie Yang, Hebe Tian, Ella Chen, Jiro Wang or any of theose guys from Farenheit.  All of them are in successful music groups or have successful music careers on their own.  The idol dramas are career builders for the idols and also sell a lot of advertising space for the TV network.  So everybody wins.  For more info on Idol Dramas see Speaking Chinese:  learning to Listen.

The T-pop is usually upbeat Kind of happy music.  I find myself humming some of it from time to time.  I’m sure that’ll send Keith Richards spinning in his grave.  Oh yeah, Keith Richards is still allegedly alive.  But there is Taiwanese Rock and roll of a sort as well.  Like Huang Yi Da, his music has an edge and is really pretty good.  So I’ll leave you with some samples of Taiwanese pop and Huang Yi Da.  These are some pretty typical mandoPop songs.  As a special bonus I included Dave Mason’s “Feeling Alright,” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This is Rainie Yang with her song Ren Yi Men which translates to Free Gate.  I have no idea what this song means but it is a strange story  I can see that.  believe it or not this woman is 26 years old.  This is from her album Ren Yi Men (2010)

This is S.H.E. the initials stand for Selina, Hebe and Ella. All three of them have appeared in idol dramas. In the video Ella Chen sings first, then Hebe Tian, and finally Selina Ren. Selina was badly burned while filming an explosion scene in 2010. She is recovering and recently married.

This is Fahrenheit.

Huang Yi Da - Chou Nan Ren (The Jerk)  This was the theme song to Devil Beside You.  This guy has a lot of pretty cool music.  It's a little harder then the MandoPop stuff.

Dave Mason at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He's still got it. I'm sorry about Kid Rock's interference, nothing is perfect, as you know. Look who else is there. Steve Winwood, Tom Petty, Van Morrison, that bald guy from David Letterman, the ghost of Keith Richards, and Jim Capaldi, among others.

The next post will be "Pathetical Analyticals for 2011."  Then I'll write mostly about Taiwan again after that, I promise, sorry for this week's digression.  I couldn't help myself.

Photo credits: Keith Richards:
Rolling Stones:
Rick Braun:

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