Chinese pop music artists
Chinese rock (Chinese: 中国摇滚; pinyin: Zhōngguó yáogǔn; also simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: 中國搖滾音樂; pinyin: Zhōngguó yáogǔn yīnyuè, lit. "Chinese rock and roll music") is a wide variety of rock and roll music made by rock bands and solo artists from native Chinese-speaking regions (including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, etc.). Typically, Chinese rock is a fusion of forms accompanying the grand presentation of traditional Chinese music.
The Northwest Wind (1980s–1989)
Chinese Rock had its origins in Northwest Wind style of music, which emerged as a main genre in Mainland China. The new style was triggered by two new songs, "Xintianyou" (《信天游》) and "Nothing To My Name" (《一无所有》), both of which drew heavily on the folk song traditions of northern Shaanxi. They combined this with a western-style fast tempo, strong beat and extremely aggressive bass lines. In contrast to the mellow cantopop style, Northwest Wind songs were sung loudly and forcefully. It represented the musical branch of the large-scale Root-Seeking (寻根, xungen) cultural movement that also manifested itself in literature and in film. Cui Jian's Northwest Wind album, which included "Nothing To My Name", has been called "China's first rock album".
Many Northwest Wind songs were highly idealistic and heavily political, parodying or alluding to the revolutionary songs of the Communist state, such as "Nanniwan" and "The Internationale". It is, however, associated with the non-Communist national music side instead of the revolutionary side. The music reflected dissatisfaction among Chinese youth, as well as the influence of western ideas such as individuality and self-empowerment. Both music and lyrics articulated a sense of pride in the power of the northwest's peasantry. Songs such as "Sister Go Boldly Forward" (《妹妹你大胆的往前走》) came to represent an earthy, primordial masculine image of Mainland China, as opposed to the soft, sweet, polished urban gangtai style.
Birth of Chinese rock and roll (1984)
The birthplace of Chinese rock was in Beijing. As the nation's capital, the music was highly politicised and open to a range of foreign influences. It was marginal for most of the 1980s, consisting of live performances in small bars and hotels. The music was almost exclusively for the domain of university students and "underground" bohemian circles. In late 1989 and early 1990 Chinese rock partially emerged into mainstream music as a combination of the Northwest Wind and prison song fads.
The first Chinese rock song was arguably the Northwest Wind anthem "Nothing To My Name", first performed in 1984 by Cui Jian, widely recognised as the father of Chinese rock. The song introduced into post-revolutionary China a whole new ethos that combined individualism, direct and bold expression. It soon came to symbolise the frustration harboured by a disillusioned generation of young intellectuals who grew cynical about Communism and critical of China's traditional and contemporary culture. It also expressed, even for older Chinese, a dissatisfaction with unrealized promises of the Chinese regime.
In the spring of 1989, "Nothing To My Name" became the de facto anthem of the student protestors at Tiananmen Square. Additionally, in May and July of that year, three of China's famous rock bands were established: Breathing (Huxi, 呼吸), Cobra (眼镜蛇), and Zang Tianshuo's (臧天朔) 1989. Earlier rock music groups include "Infallible" (Budaoweng 不倒翁), formed by Zang Tianshuo and Tang Dynasty (band) (Tang Chao, 唐朝) lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Ding Wu (丁武), and probably the most famous of all Chinese rock bands: "Black Panther" (Hei Bao 黑豹), originally fronted by China's alternative music pioneer Dou Wei (窦唯).
Prison songs (1988–1989)
"Prison Songs" (《囚歌》) became popular in 1988 and early 1989, parallel to the Northwest Wind style. The fad was initiated by Chi Zhiqiang (迟志强), who wrote lyrics about his time in jail and set them to folk melodies from northeast China. In contrast to Northwest Wind songs, prison songs were slow, "weepy" and invoked negative role models, often using vulgar language and expressing despair and cynicism. Their non-conformist values are apparent in such songs as "Mother Is Very Muddle-Headed" and "There Is Not a Drop of Oil in the Dish". The popularity of these songs reflected the fact that many Chinese during the 1980s became tired of official artistic representations and discourse. The patrons of prison songs were the urban youth, and private entrepreneurs, who at that time were mostly from marginal backgrounds.
Popular Chinese rock (1990–1993)
After the TianAnMen Square protests, rock became part of general urban youth Chinese culture. Its rise from the margins was celebrated on 17 and 18 February 1990, when Beijing's largest ever all-rock concert was held in the Capital Gymnasium, one of the city's largest halls. The concert featured six rock bands, among them are Cui Jian's ADO and Tang Dynasty. The criterion that the organizers set as qualification to participate was "originality".