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Chinese Variety Show “Heroes of Remix” Brings Electronic Dance Music to the Masses

China’s new music reality show Heroes of Remix has become a hot topic on Chinese social media since its first airing on Jiangsu TV. The show gives electronic dance music a Chinese flavor and has heightened the popularity of the music genre in China.

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China’s new music reality show Heroes of Remix has become a hot topic on Chinese social media since its first airing on Jiangsu TV. The show gives electronic dance music a Chinese flavor and has heightened the popularity of the music genre in China.

China’s much-anticipated music reality show “Heroes of Remix” (盖世英雄), that has premiered June 19 on Jiangsu TV, is getting rave reviews on Sina Weibo.

Different from previously aired music competition shows, including “The Voice of China” (中国好声音), “I Am a Singer” (我是歌手) and “King of Mask Singer” (蒙面歌王), “Heroes of Remix” (盖世英雄) brings an entertaining arrangement of remix music and dance, marking China’s first-ever variety show that features electronic dance music (EDM).

heroesofremix

Following its previous popularity and success in Vietnam, The Remix highlights a dance music talent format in which singers, DJs and vocalists pair up and compete to make internationally-recognized Chinese EDM music. In each show, eight rookie singers or music bands, under the guidance of their mentors, showcase live music performances of Chinese songs. The songs that receive most votes from the audience at the end of each show will be incorporated in albums to make them hit the top music charts.

China’s Heroes of Remix’s participating mentors are diverse, including four big names in the industry; Chinese American singer Wang Leehom (王力宏), Park ‘Gangnam Style’ Jae-sang (PSY) from South Korea, Taiwan-based singer Harlem Yu (庾澄庆) and Chinese popular music duo Phoenix Legend (凤凰传奇). The show’s main sponsor is Chinese automobile manufacturer BYD Auto.

While EDM music has been quite popular and influential in the western world, China is not yet considered as a major production hub for electronic music. In an interview with People’s Daily, music producer Liu Zhou (刘洲) addressed China’s lack of prominent EDM culture:

“In China, the development of EDM somewhat lags behind, and we are not able to keep up with industry trends. If everyone else is making electronic music but we are not, we will stay behind.”

The significance of Heroes of Remix is that it not only adds new flavor to existing Chinese songs, but also redefines what EDM means in a Chinese context. One netizen wrote on Sina Weibo that Heroes of Remix challenges public misunderstanding about EDM just being “fast-tempo nightclub tunes”, and introduces “the true essence of electronic music”.


Various Chinese singers, including Zhang Yuge (张语格) and Lu Ting (陆婷), with their remix version of Chinese classic “The Moon Represents My Heart”.

Forbes Magazine recently reported that EDM still has much room for growth in the world today, one of the reasons being that out of all music genres, “electronic dance music is one of the most transportable”. One the reasons is that there is no language barrier to the music between different countries, as the instrumental music is often more important than the lyrics (if there are any). There are still many possibilities in the world of EDM even when it has topped out in the major developed countries, Forbes writes, “sort of like what happened with American jazz music of the 1950s and 60s.”

As international as the genre may be, the Chinese version of Heroes of Remix is unmistakenly Chinese, as it brings elements of Chinese traditional culture into remixes of Chinese songs. The performance by the hip-hop duo DanyLee and Ai Fei (李斯丹妮/艾菲), for instance, was incorporated with sounds of the pipa and singing parts of Beijing Opera.

But besides showing that electronic dance music can have a Chinese identity, Heroes of Remix also conveys the message that music has no borders –  popular Korean idol groups performing on the show added new K-Pop components to it,  receiving much praise from Chinese viewers on Weibo. On the first episode, the song “Beijing Beijing” by the Korean hit boy band iKon was voted as the most popular record of the eight.

In many aspects, Heroes of Remix is taking the music reality show genre in a new direction and is opening up numerous possibilities for electronic music-making in China. The popularity of the show on Chinese social media shows that China is ready for more EDM. Now let’s see if the world is ready for Chinese EDM – we’ll have to wait and see.

Heroes of Remix will be come out on JiangSu TV every Sunday (also online live). Check out the first episode from Youtube here.

By Yanling Xu

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Yanling Xu is a freelance writer and recent college graduate. Originally from Xiamen, China, she studied in the U.S. and received her Bachelor degree in Political Science and East Asian Studies from Grinnell College. Yanling currently resides in Chicago.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Mey

    July 18, 2016 at 10:31 am

    I watched every episodes, of course it was really good, electronic dance music EDM. It kinds of the most hit song that I’ve ever listened. Great work, Heroes of Remix China.

  2. Lita Delgado

    July 22, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    I’ve seen several videos on youtube, looks great, but unfortunately I understand nothing. I’d love to watch the whole episodes with english subtitles. If someone knows a website could please share the link with me? thanks!!

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Backgrounder

Remembering San Mao – the Bohemian Writer That Captured the Hearts of Millions of Chinese

27 years after her suicide, bohemian writer San Mao still strikes a chord with Chinese netizens.

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Renowned author and world traveler San Mao (三毛) was one of the first Chinese mass media celebrities. Exactly 27 years after her passing, Weibo netizens collectively commemorate her free spirit, inspirational life, and tragic death.

In a time when Beijing’s first fast-food restaurants opened their doors, people were hooked on Teresa Tang’s sweet voice, and television sets entered Chinese living rooms, pirate editions of books by the wildly popular Chinese author San Mao first started spreading all over mainland China.

Before this time in the late 1980s, the female author was already a celebrity in Taiwan and Hong Kong since the 1970s; not just because of her many books, newspaper columns, song lyrics, and public lectures, but also because of her free, cosmopolitan, and “legendary” life that captured the imagination of many Chinese eager to look beyond their own borders.

Researcher Miriam Lang (2015) describes San Mao as “one of the first mass media celebrities in the Chinese-speaking world” (440).

On January 4th 2018, the 20th-century writer became a trending topic on social media when various media commemorated her. Chinese state media outlet People’s Daily dedicated a post to the iconic author on Weibo, titled “Today, we cherish the memory of San Mao.”

People’s Daily writes:

She was born in Chongqing, moved to Taiwan, studied in Spain, and settled in the Sahara. All of her life she pursued freedom and touched the hearts of many with all of her words. Her love-story with Jose stirred people’s emotions. Her mother said that maybe her life was not perfect enough for her, but we now know that her life-long pursuit of her dreams has already become romantic legend. Today, in 1991, writer San Mao committed suicide.”

Besides that the post itself attracted thousands of comments and was shared nearly 3800 times, many other media outlets and netizens also posted their own commemorations to the author on Weibo. One post by the Communist Youth League received more than 100,000 comments on January 4th.

“She was the first author I really loved,” one person comments: “Whether she was in the Sahara or Madrid, the way she describes her love has become like a little gemstone in my own life.”

 
A Woman Writer Named Chen, Echo, and San Mao
 

San Mao is known as the wandering writer. Throughout her life, she moved from place to place; a life pattern that already started forming in the early years of her childhood.

San Mao was born in Chongqing, China, in 1943. Her parents, mother Miao Jinlan and father Chen Siqing, named their little girl Chen Mao Ping (陈懋平). Chen, however, later preferred to be called Chen Ping, and gave herself the English name of ‘Echo’ to honor her painting teacher. Once she started writing, she used the pen name San Mao (三毛), which is how she came to be remembered.

Chen Ping aka San Mao during her time in the Sahara.

San Mao’s early years took her from wartime Chongqing via Nanjing to Taiwan, where the 6-year-old girl had trouble fitting in at school. She preferred reading books over doing schoolwork, and while she read literary classics such as Don Quixote at an early age, she failed in mathematics and received low grades.

After a teacher at her Taipei school embarrassed her in front of her classmates by drawing a ‘0’ grade on her face and making her parade around, she refused to continue her classes there and was home-schooled by private tutors and her own father, who was a lawyer (Chen 2007).

San Mao as a young girl.

After studying Philosophy at the Chinese Culture University in Taiwan, the 20-year-old San Mao set out to broaden her horizons and moved to Spain, where she enrolled at the University of Madrid. It was the start of her bohemian lifestyle, that brought her from Spain to Germany, from the Sahara Desert to the Canary Islands, and from Central and South America back to Taiwan.

San Mao experienced many adventures but also had to face many difficult times. Her first great love whom she was to be married to, a German teacher 19 years her senior, died of a heart attack when San Mao was 26 old.

Chen Ping aka San Mao with her good friend Father Barry Martinson, a Jesuit priest.

Ten years later, her Spanish husband Jose Maria Quero Y Ruiz, whom San Mao lovingly called ‘He Xi’ (荷西) and with whom she had spent six years in the desert, tragically died during a diving accident.

San Mao and her Spanish husband ‘He Xi’ (荷西).

Miriam Lang, in her study of San Mao (2015), describes her as “unusual for a woman of her time and place”; she traveled far from home, married a non-Chinese man, and remained childless. Nonetheless, Lang notes, San Mao was also traditional in that she represented herself as a “happy housewife” while married, and expressed conservative feminine values in her books (443).

San Mao and Jose.

Although San Mao published her first book at the of 19, she did not really gain fame until the release of her first book The Stories of the Sahara (撒哈拉的故事) in 1976. This work revolves around San Mao’s personal experiences in the Sahara desert together with her husband Jose (Ying 2010, 162).

 
An Unhappy Ending
 

In the decade following her husband’s death, San Mao first set out on a 6-month journey to America but then traveled less and finally settled in Taiwan in 1982, where she started teaching literature and creative writing at the Chinese Culture University.

San Mao in the US.

Being a celebrity, her classes were always packed – students lined up to attend her lectures.

In 1989, she first visited mainland China again since her childhood, where she started working on the screenplay of Red Dust, a love story set during the Sino-Japanese war. Although the film eventually received much acclaim – even winning the prize for Best Film at the Golden Horse Awards of 1990 – San Mao received criticism for creating a “too positive picture” of the leading male character, who was perceived to be a traitor to the Chinese nation (Lang 2015, 442).

Despite all of her activities in her later career, San Mao never parallelled the success she had with her stories about the Sahara. In 1990, San claimed she had won a literary prize in Spain for novella written in Spanish, but the work appeared to be non-existent (Lang 2015,442).

In early 1991, San Mao admitted herself to a hospital in Taiwan where she was tested for cancer. The results turned out negative, but San reportedly asked the nurse for a sleeping pill for the night and asked her not to wake her (Chen 2007).

San Mao ended her own life by hanging on January 4, 1991, at Rongmin General Hospital. She was 47 years old.

Father Jerry Martinson, a Jesuit priest who knew San Mao for years as the brother of her close friend Barry Martinson, told UCA News two weeks after her suicide that San Mao “desired to escape from her fame’s pressure and emotional entanglements, and to reunite with Jose (..). His death was a trauma in her life.”

He also said that Antoine Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince was San Mao’s favorite reading: “At the end of the story, the Little Prince wanted to go back to his planet, reachable only through short suffering.”

Throughout her life, San Mao visited over 54 countries and wrote a total of 26 complete works (Chen 2007; Lang 2015, 442; Huang 2017). An English translation of her work Stories of the Sahara (1976) is expected to be released by publishing house Bloomsbury in 2018.

 
Online “San Mao Fever”
 

The suicide of San Mao generated a new wave of “San Mao fever” in the 1990s. And now, more than two decades after her death, the Chinese celebrity still has major appeal to social media users, who post her quotes, photos, and audio segments.

“How I love San Mao,” one person writes: “Her every word is just immersed with her wisdom.”

But not all commenters are equally positive. Some say that San Mao is representative of a time when Chinese women “blindly followed” western values, adoring foreign men.

For the majority of commenters, however, San Mao is a name that brings out new inspiration or old memories. “Whenever I think about her stories from the Sahara, it just moves me.”

One Weibo user honors San Mao by posting one of her quotes*:

Often, I asked myself, what is distance? Then I heard my own answer, saying that distance is what I desired most in life – that it is freedom.
A freedom far, far away, like the air.
At that moment, I realized that I had slowly released myself from all the things I didn’t need that were binding me to my life. I then thought: I can go to the most remote corners of the earth if that is where my heart wants to go.
It was in that moment, that my freedom had finally arrived
.

If you are interested in this story you might also be interested in reading the story of Li Xianglan, the superstar who was caught between China and Japan during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The Stories of the Sahara (in Chinese) can be purchased from Amazon:
The story of the Sahara (Chinese Edition)

The complete works of San Mao can also be purchased in Chinese online:
The Complete Works of Sanmao (Chinese Edition)

iTunes also offers The Stories of the Sahara in Chinese:

By Manya Koetse

Sources & References

Chen, Shaoshua. 2007. “San Mao – Taiwan’s Wandering Writer.” Women of China, November 30. http://www.womenofchina.cn/womenofchina/html1/people/writers/8/8989-1.htm [4.1.18].

Huang, Echo. 2017. “The brave, tragic adventurer who inspired generations of Chinese girls to adopt her nickname.” Quartz Magazine, April 24. https://qz.com/963273/the-world-traveling-writer-san-mao-inspired-generations-of-girls-to-adopt-her-nickname-echo/ [4.1.18].

Lang, Miriam. 2015 (2003). In Lily Xiao Hong Lee and A.D. Stefanowska (eds), Biographical Dictionary of Chinese women – The Twentieth-Century 1912-2000. London/New York: Routledge.

Treichel, Tamara. 2013. “The Echo Effect.” Global Times, March 10. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/767044.shtml [4.1.18].

UCA News. 1991. “PRIEST SAYS WRITER WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE WANTED TO BECOME CATHOLIC NUN.” UCA News, February 21. https://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/1991/02/19/priest-says-writer-who-committed-suicide-wanted-to-become-catholic-nun&post_id=32086 [7.1.18].

Ying, Li-hua. 2010. Historical Dictionary of Modern Chinese Literature. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press.

Images

http://www.baike.com/wiki/%E4%B8%89%E6%AF%9B%5B%E4%BD%9C%E5%AE%B6%5D
http://designblog.rietveldacademie.nl/?tag=mask
http://cq.people.com.cn/GB/365409/c24845560.html
http://www.360doc.com/content/14/0623/15/700274_389097947.shtml
https://www.lemiaunoir.com/san-mao-mujer-escritora/
http://www.sohu.com/a/142240780_767795
http://www.sohu.com/a/130964781_488738
https://elpais.com/elpais/2016/10/25/inenglish/1477405923_390849.html

* “常常,我跟自己说,到底远方是什么东西。
然后我听见我自己回答,说远方是你这一生现在最渴望的东西,就是自由。
很远很远的,一种像空气一样的自由。
在那个时候开始,我发觉,我一点一点脱去了束缚我生命的一切不需要的东西。
在那个时候,海角天涯,只要我心里想到,我就可以去。
我的自由终于在这个时候来到了.”

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Successful Reality Show ‘The Birth of Actors’ Surrounded by Controversy

Some viewers suspect there is foul play in this acting competition.

Boyu Xiao

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The Chinese reality show ‘The Birth of Actors’ (演员的诞生) has become a huge TV hit and a favorite topic of discussion on social media in China. But, despite receiving much praise, the show is repeatedly surrounded by controversy.

Reality show ‘The Birth of Actors’ (演员的诞生) has been trending on Chinese social media for weeks now. Since its first airing in late October 2017, the Zhejiang Satellite TV hit has repeatedly become a focus of discussion on Weibo.

Its first two episodes alone already had a viewership of 330 million. The show’s hashtag (#演员的诞生#) received 4,6 billion views on Weibo so far.

The show is hosted by the popular actor and director Zhang Guoli (张国立).

The live show invites Chinese actors and actresses to re-enact famous scenes from TV-series or movies. A team of judges, consisting of renowned celebrities Zhang Ziyi (章子怡), Song Dandan (宋丹丹), and Liu Ye (刘烨), give commentary and marks.

The celebrity team, along with the studio audience, then votes over who will stay on the show and who has to leave. The show’s winner gets a chance to perform with one of the acclaimed ‘judges.’

Foul Play?

Chinese netizens, however, have been questioning the show’s credibility since many deemed the show’s ‘losers’ better performers than its winners. In the first episode, for example, judge Zhang Ziyi harshly criticized Chinese actress Zheng Shuang (郑爽) over “lacking respect for her job,” but Zheng Shuang won the competition anyway.

In December 2017, Chinese actress and show contestant Yuan Li (袁立) started a big discussion over the validity of the show when she posted screenshots on Weibo of a conversation with a woman working for the show. In this conversation, the show’s staff member promised Yuan Li that she would win the first competition and go on to the next stage, to eventually perform with Zhang Ziyi.

Yuan Li on the show (image by Sina.com).

According to Yuan, not only was this promise broken, the show allegedly also edited Yuan’s performance in such a way that it made her look like a “crazy person.”

‘The Birth of Actors’ responded to the allegations, stating that the staff member’s conversation with Yuan Li was not representative of her function at the show. The woman has since resigned from the show.

Corrupt Voting System

Despite the fact that the show’s production has denied allegations, rumors of a corrupt voting system are persistent. Later in December, actress Yuan Li also exposed on Weibo that the machines given to the studio audience of the show are actually fake.

Photos of the non-functional machines were originally taken by a Weibo netizen named ‘Sea Breeze Diary 1983’ (@海风日记1983), who claimed they joined the live recording of ‘The Birth of Actors’ as the studio audience.

Later, however, other sources claimed the vote machines did not belong to Zhejiang TV’s ‘Birth of the Actors,’ but to another show by Beijing Satellite TV, and that Yuan Li was spreading false rumors.

Copyright Infringement

On January 2nd, the show made headlines again after it had featured a re-enacted scene from the Hong Kong stage classic I Have A Date with Spring (我和春天有个约会) by dramatist Raymond To (杜國威).

The Hong Kong production company’s chairman responded to the episode through Weibo, claiming that ‘The Birth of Actors’ never approached the company for copyright to the scenes.

Screenshot from the re-enacted ‘Date with Spring’ scene.

Not only did the chairman accuse the show of copyright infringement, he also stated that the performance of the actors in the Zhejiang Satellite TV show “entirely distorted the nature of the play’s characters and its experience,” and that it “completely destroyed the image of the original script,” “wrecking the spirit of this classic drama.”

The scene became a topic of discussion earlier when Zhang Ziyi called its performance “the most awkward” she had ever seen.

Ongoing Success

Despite all of its controversies, or perhaps because of them, ‘The Birth of Actors’ has continued to draw large numbers of viewers.

It is not the first time a popular Chinese TV show faces allegations of copyright infringement and fake voting systems. Previously, Dutch production company Talpa sued Zhejiang Satellite TV for its hit TV show ‘New Singing of China’ (中国新歌声), of which the Dutch company owned the TV format (‘The Voice of..’) rights.

Many other Chinese TV shows including voting systems have been accused of influencing or faking audience votes. These controversies often draw more attention to a TV show, which usually grows its viewership.

Besides its controversies, the show has another recipe for success: its all-star cast members that mixes established names with new talent (小鲜肉). As China’s idol industry is thriving, this show gives millions of viewers exactly what they want: superstars, competition, entertainment, and some juicy gossip.

By Boyu Xiao and Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2017

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