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Originally posted by enlighten at 2006-9-14 10:28
Is it ridiculous that Cui Jian is still standing in the center stage of China's Rock 'n' Roll scene?
how could he keep "anger" and "rebellion" after 20 years?
He is at the center stage for both political and commercial reasons. 30 years ago almost anything but officially approved music was banned, including both the very old and the very new music (because of Jiang Qing's cultural terror). Then things loosened up and the stuff from Taiwan and Hongkong came in through tapes (radio didn't play it, although many in Guangdong could direct their antennas toward Hongkong when the police wasn't around). The stuff that came was Gangtai (港台), pop music of a certain Chinese taste from outside the mainland. One of the stars was (and still is) Deng Lijun, so China at the time had both the Big Deng and the Little Deng.
Gangtai was initially considered "half-official" by the authorities, meaning they neither endorsed nor condoned it, realizing it was commercially viable and a source of joy for the people. Many thought it was "Western poison", however.
Gangtai was then copied, both as in covered by others and as in people imitating its style. Genuine mainland pop had to wait for a while, and it came in the 1980s, especially around 1986, when both rock (yaogunyue, 摇滚乐) and "Northwest wind" (Xibeifeng, 西北风) began to spread rapidly. Most people can't hear the difference, but Northwest Wind has more folk music to it, using indigenous instruments and stuff. But Cui Jian also uses such instruments, although his music is clearly rock in its root elements.
There was really nothing against the further spread of rock at that stage, but its popularity coincided with the events a few years later, and some people thought there was a connection between the freedom loving music form, which is also violent in its appearance, and those events (and there is, but not in the direct sense they thought). So it was decided rock music should be held back for the softer Gangtai love music, through sticks and carrots. Cui Jian himself has repeatedly said he is not in for politics, but he was impeded anyway (lights could "mysteriously" go out during concerts and so on).
Therefore rock hasn't had a natural freeway to evolve on, and therefore Cui Jian is still at center stage, because he is genuine; he is doing what he likes and couldn't really change style just because someone else wants it. That is the true rebel nature of rock music, to be true to one's ideals and stand up when it is blowing hard.
So when I see this extremely beautiful China Daily e-zine NI HAO, I am glad that Cui Jian is kinda officially endorsed by a powerful media outlet like China Daily, and I suddenly realize that the freeway that rock needs has most likely been opened up.
China has a lot of good rock musicians in the background; you often hear those great guitarists and drummers in the background of regular gangtai music, where they can let off some riffs inbetween. If they now have enough leeway, new bands can grow explosively, and the youth (and older chaps like me) can enjoy some genuine modern Mainland music. (The old people only need to know that it is big business, and that big biz is good for China; they don't have to like the music).
Oh, and Cui Jian is still at center stage because he is a really good musician.