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feihong

Big Band (乐队的夏天) and the history of Chinese rock'n'roll

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Demonic_Duck

My girlfriend has been watching this and sometimes sends me music recommendations from it (we're both pretty into Chinese rock music). I haven't been watching it up until now as I'm not a fan of the competition show format as a whole, but maybe I should give it a chance.

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xinoxanu

Great insight!

 

Haven't watched this one yet but I too am a sucker for Chinese singing competitions such as The Voice and 歌手. The quality of Chinese singers is astounding, specially when we consider how most of them are total unknown amateurs... Literally: in 4 years that I've been watching them I haven't heard a single contestant that wasn't top notch, something I can't say for western versions of the same format.

 

I must confess that 汪峰 is also one of the reasons I started watching them (the other was my ex's mother, the super fan that introduced me to Chinese TV), such a talented artist and a very charismatic judge. 

 

Some of my favourite clips of all time:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rySflCPy4w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75E5z_uDHdQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ti5fdLn-ZTg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0AblU7UKgs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQSlAKvWpn4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI_7jugRQ00

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z82kpOCHEPs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb8jxKrAzzI

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feihong
16 minutes ago, Demonic_Duck said:

I haven't been watching it up until now as I'm not a fan of the competition show format as a whole, but maybe I should give it a chance.

I somehow forgot to mention that the production values in this show are great, and a lot of attention is given to the visual part of the performance. Pick a song from the show that you like and look up the video for it, you might be surprised at how much the gestures of the musicians, the lighting, and the cinematography add to the performance.

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feihong
1 hour ago, xinoxanu said:

Haven't watched this one yet but I too am a sucker for Chinese singing competitions such as The Voice and 歌手. The quality of Chinese singers is astounding, specially when we consider how most of them are total unknown amateurs... Literally: in 4 years that I've been watching them I haven't heard a single contestant that wasn't top notch, something I can't say for western versions of the same format.

The Voice of China is like the finals of the tournament bracket that makes up the Chinese music competition landscape. In reality, many of the contestants who go on the Voice are actually reality show or social media veterans, with some even being champions of other competition shows. You don't get to see the amateurs because they were eliminated much farther down the bracket.

 

I believe that the quality of musicianship doesn't really correlate to how entertaining a music reality show is. There are a tons of these shows in China, and in most of them, the contestants are talented but the hosts, judges, and production are totally meh. For a good counterexample of a show that is entertaining but doesn't have the best talent, there's Jungle Voice (聲林之王), a not very well known Taiwanese show that seems like a clone of The Voice but adds a few twists (which have since been shamelessly copied by The Voice). The best thing about Jungle Voice is that the host is a bit of a comedian and is given a lot of freedom to improvise. Also the judges give much more detailed critiques than I've seen on other shows. Jungle Voice premiered in 2018 and there are some hints of it in Big Band, but there are so many music reality shows now that I can't say for sure if it was a direct influence.

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feihong
27 minutes ago, xinoxanu said:

I must confess that 汪峰 is also one of the reasons I started watching them (the other was my ex's mother, the super fan that introduced me to Chinese TV), such a talented artist and a very charismatic judge.

I'll agree with you that Wang Feng is always great TV. But for me, he has this crazy anti-charisma that always makes me root against him (apparently, many Chinese fans also love to hate him). You would probably like 一起乐队吧, on which Wang Feng served as mentor and judge.

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xinoxanu

Mmm... it's true that in recent editions they have brought it in more popular/well-known singers compared to 2015-2017 and earlier, but they are still amateurs without formal training. The increase in budget is also noticeable from then on, considering how Jessie J was made the poster girl for 歌手's 2018 edition.

 

And about Wang Feng: well, yeah, he's a womanizer and a cheat, so most people dislike him for that reason alone... but then again, if you can split the artist from the person then he's rather enjoyable!

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feihong

Wang Feng tries to pull off the vibe of a know-it-all music professor, but is often insufferably arrogant and makes outlandish claims about how amazing his team is. When his team fails to get a good score, he blames the audience and critics for their bad taste, which comes off as being a sore loser. Don't get me wrong, Wang Feng is delightful to watch and improves any show he's in because he's such a good villain. The occasional schadenfreude you get from watching him fail is magnificent. I don't know that much about his personal life, so he could just be an exceptional performance artist.

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Diesel Dave

I'm a concert promoter by trade, and while I haven't been bowled over by Chinese rock, I am interested in the Chinese music market. I'm not a fan of The Voice and its kin. I'm pretty suspicious of any band that needs auto-tune and/or a full-blown pyrotechnic rig to make an impact. Nonetheless, you've piqued my interest in this show. 

 

When I lived in Taibei in the late eighties, the Chinese appetite for Western music was very narrow. Only the most bland pop hits made any inroads on the Chinese charts. No rap, no hard rock, no soul, no jazz. But that was a long time ago.

 

Now, if you assumed that America's Got Talent or The Voice (US) was a real representation of American listening tastes you'd be largely mistaken. While pop is, by definition, popular here, you've got plenty of people who adore Norweigian metal, East African jazz, Qawali, psychedelic R & B, and classic bebop. Is the same true of China?

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feihong
14 hours ago, Diesel Dave said:

While pop is, by definition, popular here, you've got plenty of people who adore Norweigian metal, East African jazz, Qawali, psychedelic R & B, and classic bebop. Is the same true of China?

Yes, I think the music tastes of Chinese fans are all over the map now. The internet makes it much easier for Chinese music fans to discover new types of music, and live music events cater to less mainstream musical tastes. Chinese music streaming services make it easy even for indie bands in the west to reach out to Chinese audiences.

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Diesel Dave

Such an exiting time for China, I can hardly wait for the chance to see and hear it for myself!

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feihong

Just watched the final episode. It's crazy long, probably 3+ hours, was broken up into 3 separate videos.

 

And, speak of the devil, guess who shows up as a guest on the celebrity panel? Wang Feng! To be fair, this isn't a shocking development. At least two of his songs were covered during the first season of the show, and Wang Feng has even covered the songs of 马赛克, one of the finalist bands. He's not participating in the competition, so he's gracious and congratulatory throughout. Actually, at the very end, there's a very nice easter egg for Wang Feng fans (end-of-the-episode easter egg is a common feature of this show).

 

Since this was the final episode, there were no more band documentaries to show, so instead they showed some footage from each band's sound check (I didn't particularly find this interesting). The performances themselves were just OK, as each band had already used its 杀手锏 (trump card), so for the most part you weren't hearing their best work.

 

Overall, I liked the second season a bit more than the first season. Perhaps because of the pandemic, they were able to get what I feel were more famous bands. There were quite a few bands whose work I've heard before, and it was nice to learn a little about the people behind the music.

 

Some highlights of season 2

Spoiler
  • 无条人 was eliminated 3 times yet still managed to come back due to online voting to play in the final. It probably didn't hurt that they provided one of the most recognizable songs in the popular Chinese cartoon Scissor Seven (available on Netflix). Member 仁科 generated some of the most resilient memes of the season.
  • Most of the rehearsal segments involving triplet sister act 福禄寿 were delightful. They were the previously unknown band that really got my attention this year. They even got an endorsement from Wang Feng!
  • The improvised rap that resulted in the unofficial motto of the season, 与民同乐.
  • There were a number of memorable bromances, but the most entertaining was the one between the band leader of Re-TROS and the bassist from Mandarin.
  • The impromptu eyeliner tutorial from the leader of 木马.
  • 大张伟 is one of the most famous hosts on Chinese television, but he's almost perfect as a panelist on this show, given his background as a punk rocker. He lands some really solid jokes in his stint here.
  • I guess the embedded commercials were good? Host 马东 has a way of winkingly delivering them so that they all sound like bad jokes.

 

  • Thanks 1

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amytheorangutan

This is interesting. I’m watching the first episode because my teacher wants to talk about it in tomorrow’s italki lesson, normally not a fan of reality type shows but I recognised a couple of bands there.

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feihong

I found a Youtube playlist containing the episodes of the eat-and-talk show spin-off of this show called 乐队我做东: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtez87pV7s3-SRvYSN42hDTVreX99gjKL. Watched the first episode of the second season and actually liked it more than I thought I would. As I said, hosts 马东 and 藏鸿飞 invite some guests over and chat over a big feast. The guests on the first ep are the members of 刺猬 and the lead singer of 面孔乐队 (all contestants from the first season). They watch the performances from the first round of the second season and then comment on the bands, a lot of whom they're familiar with. A lot of Chinese rock history nuggets are tossed out, so pretty educational as well.

 

On this show, they talk faster than they do on 乐队的夏天, and they do not hold back with the Beijing accent at all. At times, I struggled to follow along when I wasn't directly looking at the screen. Surprisingly, the little joke cartoons show up in this show too. It's definitely worth a watch for fans of the show or Chinese rock.

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xinoxanu

Not sure if we can consider《爱我还是他》by David Tao "rock music", but this cover by 李荣浩 on 中国好声音 has an amazing guitar solo.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xanYQbxMY7A (solo is from min 1:30)

 

Is there something 李荣浩 can't do? 

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