“Spring Festival Survival Kit”: This Song Describes Young People’s Uncomfortable Chinese New Year Experience

As Chinese New Year is just around the corner, a new song is going viral on Chinese social media. It describes the pressure experienced by young people who are bombarded with nagging questions by their family and relatives when they come home for Spring Festival.

Remember the song So Far, the Sofa is so Far, the 2016 Chinese internet hit that vividly depicted the lives of overworked young people?

This time, composer Jin Chengzhi (金承志) and his choir The Rainbow Chamber Singers (上海彩虹合唱团) have once again won the hearts of Chinese netizens with their new hit What I Do Is For Your Own Good (春节自救指南,literally: The Spring Festival Survival Toolkit).

What I Do Is For Your Own Good describes how young people who visit their family during the Chinese New Year get bombarded with awkward questions, mean remarks and “kind” advice by their parents and relatives.

 

“Surviving the Chinese New Year with a little love, some smart tactics and, of course, a good game of Mahjong.”

 

The song consists of five parts as is shown in its official video clip: it starts with a gloomy d-minor prelude, setting a sad atmosphere, in which a man holds a sign saying: “You never know what difficult questions your parents and relatives might bring up when you go back home.”

The start of the clip: what happens when a young man returns home for Chinese New Year.

The choir then illustrates what actually happens when China’s young people arrive home for Spring Festival; they are immediately bombarded with the “care” from their family and relatives, who say things such as “I will bring you to a blind date tomorrow,” “Hurry to lose some weight!”, or “How much is your salary?, “Do you want to come work in my company?”

A member of the choir plays a relative who asks nagging questions.

The scene is followed by a melodic fragment where all ‘relatives’ sing with much emotion: “What we do is for your own good.”

The song then describes how the grass is always greener on the other side when the successful neighbor Senior Wang walks in the door together with his equally successful son Junior Wang.

While the Wangs boast about their wealth, the family reminds their child that they are “miles behind.”

At this point, the mood becomes gloomier. The key changes to minor as the ‘family’ becomes solemnly persuasive, singing: “Come home to work”, “Why can’t you just get a stable 9 to 5 job?”

These suggestions soon change into harsh criticism: “You are so childish!” “Why don’t you quit that Bohemian lifestyle of yours?”

Finally, the song illustrates how the young people fight back. Accompanied by the bright tune of a solo trumpet, they sing that they could never give up on their dreams to become the kind of person they hate.

In the end, the song suggests that there is a positive solution: do not compare yourself with others, but fight for your own future.

As for surviving the Chinese New Year, the focus should be on the family reunion rather than disagreements – with a little love, some smart tactics and, of course, a good game of Mahjong, one should be able to survive the Spring Festival.

 

“Bringing home a rented boyfriend is one way to stop the endless questions from your family during the Chinese New Year.”

 

By now, the video of What I do is for Your Own Good has received over 1 million likes, forwards and comments under the Rainbow Chamber Singers’ Sina Weibo account (@上海彩虹合唱团) alone. It also ranks second on Sina Weibo’s Asian New Release list.

The popularity of this song suggests that its theme of the uncomfortable Chinese New Year experience resonates with many netizens.

As a major family event, the Chinese New Year is a time of reunion when existing generational gaps become especially explicit.

For the parent generation, the standard of a “good life” is: married with a kid, have a job with a good salary, be well-respected in other people’s eyes, etc. For many parents, it is very important that their children get settled and start leading this “good life” as soon as possible.

But the younger generations have grown up in a different world with more possibilities that their parents had. Marriage, children, and a ‘respectable’ job might not be their top priority anymore.

This sharp gap between the older and younger generation’s vision of life has been a source of inspiration for popular culture over the recent years.

Skin care brand’s SKII’s marketing campaign last year, for example, addressed the issue of China’s “leftover women.” Whereas parents believe girls should “marry well”, many young women today value their own independence and happiness more.

For those who would rather avoid their family’s questions on why they are not settling down, there is a booming business of boyfriend/girlfriend rental services. Bringing home a rented boyfriend is one way to stop the endless questions from your family during the Chinese New Year.

To show their strong identification with this new hit, many netizens suggest that it should be included during the CCTV Spring Festival Gala. One netizen writes: “If this song is not suitable for the gala, then I don’t know what is.”

-By Diandian Guo
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Author

About the author: Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialised in China's cultural memory.

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