As we told you earlier, the pop song My Little Apple is now very popular on the Chinese internet with several spoof videos circulating on social networks.
However, one foreigner of China has endeared himself tremendously with the home crowd by making a tribute video inspired by that other Chinese pop trend that refuses to die, Journey to the West.
As explained on his Youtube page, Shaun Gibson made an English version of My Little Apple to tell a well-known story from Journey to the West: when Tripikata gets captured by the Queen Mother of the West as part of a forced marriage, and disciples Sun Wu-kong, Piggy and the rest must rescue him.
Part of the charm of Gibson’s Liverpool-based adaptation is in using costumes from the classic 80s televised version of Journey to the West, and the rest can be seen in the use of anachronisms as well as an overt Stephen Chow reference.
On the video’s Youtube page, comments were mostly positive. They include “I cant believe how incredible you are!!!!!!”, “WOW!!! that was AWESOME!”, and “Okay. Mr. Gibson, you win!!!!!”
Perhaps to make this Chinese pop song stay Chinese, the chorus has been left in the original Chinese, but the subtitles don’t provide any English version aside from pinyin. So in the efforts of making My Little Apple achieve the juggernaut cultural status of Gangnam Style to which it aspires, here’s the chorus in English so you can follow along:
You are my little apple I can’t love you enough With a face of red, you warm my the cockles of my heart and ignite the fire of my life, f-f-f-fire You are my little apple Like the most beautiful cloud in the sky When spring comes and flowers bloom all over the mountainside I will reap the bounty of the seed of hope I had planted
We wonder what’s next for Shaun Gibson, but if he is to continue to curry favor with his Chinese audience, we’d imagine it would have to involve pandas, the waving of a Chinese flag or shouting “This is real Chinese kung-fu!” at the top of his lungs.
Here’s the music video, and here’s video again on a local video provider:
The common explanation for why people in a musical suddenly burst out in song is because that’s the only way they properly express themselves. When mere words fail you, sing them aloud.
Dongguan has been reeling from its prostitution crackdown. Besides suffering from huge economic losses and a mass exodus of people, Dongguan has been maligned with a loss of face from having been crowned “China’s sex capital”. While Dongguan’s mayor has responded to the scandal by being flabbergasted, Dongguan city youth have been more eloquent by putting their feelings into a song. Watch here, and sing along with the translated lyrics written below:
I Love Dongguan
Get up, morning calisthenics, the sweet aroma of cake wafts in from the street stalls below Get off from work early, the beautiful sky perfectly complements going for a walk If you’ve never walked upon the ground of this happy place, then we ask you respectfully, how can you denounce it? Blinded to this point, how do we make this right?
Even though many have only learned about Dongguan out of context from the media Respectfully speaking, there is too much emphasis upon the actions of a few The future of an famous emerging manufacturing city awaits you to listen to what we have to say
For the righteous name of Dongguan, the basketball team will earnestly work hard You say there are substantial problems, but you won’t listen to us For the righteous name of Dongguan, mistakes have been corrected Can our explanation be heard?
For the righteous name of Dongguan, a prosperous city imbued with vision Here, millions of people are capable enough to achieve goals through different means For the righteous name of Dongguan, the entire city will unite to bring about its worth Listen to us again
Keyuan, Tanwu, Humen and Xiaoyan are all places that you are familiar with Tasks performed with precision, this is the only place in which digital products are made Respectfully speaking, why is it that within the same country, you are only interested in the same point? This is completely misleading, so let’s change the topic
I love you, Donguan, I will not leave or abandon you Making a living depends upon my own two hands, struggle is what supports this place I love you Dongguan, let’s tear away the stereotypes that label us Together as one
I love you, Dongguan, the vision of the city is on hold Millions of football fans believe that they will carry the championship back home I love you, Dongguan, our voices are here and will not cry tears again
Once there was a problem, but you’re saying that it’s dead in the ground But with both hands raised up high, there no need to tremble anymore Let’s look at this squarely and not be scared of the ugly truth We won’t stop our pace forward, hand in hand
Beijing recently employed the same tactic recently when a spate of bad smog would serve to galvanize the city in producing the lip-sync video “Happy in Beijing“. However, that video featured shaking hips and extroverted individualism that isn’t the message in this case.
For a power ballad in the vein of “We Are the World”, we are nonetheless surprised not to see a rap breakdown in the middle in which an MC differentiates regional Chinese differences by outlining what the local delicacies are as had happened in many “Gangam Style” tribute videos.
Of the handful of Westerners who have taken to singing Mandopop songs as a method for learning Chinese and reaching out to their host country, one of the best known is the Guangzhou-based television personality Hazza Harding.
Hazza in the music video for his original song “Let Go,” via Google Images
Hazza, 23, became an online celebrity in 2010 for singing covers of Mandarin pop songs while still a student back in his native Australia. He was subsequently offered a job in television in Guangzhou where he still lives, currently presenting the chat show Face Time.
Singing in Chinese
Hazza first became interested in China when he travelled to Beijing on a school trip in grade 7, but it wasn’t until he heard one of Jay Chou’s songs that he started to become fascinated by Chinese culture. “I bought Jay Chou’s ‘November Chopin’ at a dingy CD store in Chinatown back in Brisbane – best $15 I ever spent. I have listened to that album hundreds of times, the CD is all scratched up now,” Hazza told The Nanfang.
Singing in Chinese became a big part of his life while studying the language at university and it is what gave him his first taste of celebrity, making his current career possible: “Now looking back, learning Chinese songs wasn’t the best way of learning Mandarin (probably evidenced by my exam marks) but I guess I wouldn’t be doing what I am now if I hadn’t taken this approach,” said Hazza.
Serendipitously, the earliest videos of him singing in Chinese coincided with the rise of Sina Weibo in 2010. “At first I just uploaded a few videos to share with some of my Chinese friends from university, and all of a sudden they were re-tweeted a few hundred times. I guess this encouraged me to keep going,” he said.
Passion for Mandopop
Even though he acknowledges that a few million hits to his videos might not count for much in a country of over a billion people, he is proud that his videos have received a combined total of more than 12 million hits, half the population of Australia. His most popular video with several million hits has been his cover of Jay Chou’s “Nocturne,” the song which happens to be the one that got him interested in Mandopop all those years ago.
“Obviously I love (Mandopop), otherwise I wouldn’t be trying to make it! Some people think that Chinese songs are too ‘soppy,’ and sometimes I would have to agree, but there’s something about the sound that I really like and that attracts me,” he said, echoing some points made by The Nanfang last month.
He also writes his own songs in Chinese. “I released a single, ‘Let Go,’ that was on the ‘Guangzhou New Music Charts’ last year, and am currently working on my next single – it will be released in a couple of months. I hope that I have stayed true to the genre whilst adding my own individual touches at the same time,” Hazza told The Nanfang. Here is the video of Hazza’s original song “Let Go”:
Television work in Guangzhou
His online celebrity helped him land an interview for a job with Guangdong Television where he has been employed as a television presenter since early 2012. The job enables him to meet all kinds of interesting people while travelling around the country.
“Of course I enjoy interviewing models, despite the fact that they make me a little nervous. But by far, my favourite episode was when I interviewed my Chinese teacher from Australia who was here for a holiday,” he said, describing the moment as “surreal”. Other highlights of his time working for Guangdong Television include going backstage at a Wilber Pan concert and being put up in hotels that are way beyond the price range of most expats.
Despite having a relatively glamorous job, Hazza does not get out much in Guangzhou. “When I’m not at work, I’m at home sleeping (that’s my number one hobby) or learning new songs,” he said, adding “I would LOVE to meet some Australians who are in Guangzhou though, because I really miss my friends from home sometimes.”
As for the future, Hazza is happy to keep doing what he’s doing with his singing and his media work. “To be honest, I know I still have a LOT to learn when it comes to hosting and singing but I do put 100% into what I do because I know the chances that I have got are very hard to come by.”
The Public Security Bureau in Guangzhou’s Panyu District has recorded a music video about how to stay safe and keep thieves away. The video was completed in August and has been widely shared on Sina Weibo in the past week, so The Nanfang has added English subtitles to hopefully give it a bigger audience.