News Roundup 7/25/09 – 8/2/09

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Fusion Band

After being inactive for half a year, Fusion will be back with a second album. When asked why the long absence, their company said that they’ve been concentrating on their next album which is reaching the end stages of its production. Now they’ll be starting performances again to warm up for their new release.

This is probably the best music news in this batch, the rest are just sad ones about company matters.

Music

In probably the most upsetting music news I’ve heard since I started with this site, Kiki Hu Ling, who released one album in 2007, has split from Singaporean based Ocean Butterflies, saying how the company asked her to get a boyfriend to “support” her, to which she replied she already had a boyfriend. Then the company got mad said XXX had a boyfriend who donated a lot, what has her boyfriend done for her. Which raises questions about the other female members of her company like BY2, Kym Jin Sha… A Duo. It makes one a bit nauseous thinking about it. Hu Ling’s blog entry about this matter was heartbreaking, and I wish her luck.

Alan cautions aspiring singers in China, not to lightly make the decision to go abroad to develop careers, and must consider it very carefully because all of a sudden they want to make you sign a contract for 10+ years. There are a lot of things that she still doesn’t feel free to do, like go out alone at night in Japan. Well of course! She lived in Chengdu before…the most lovable city on earth. (see Movie section below)

Television

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Yu Xiaowei and Rao Minli as the main couple in the New Miss Mermaid

Surprisingly…hotties that never got a break are getting them. Yan Kuan is lead #1 in a historical epic, and Jing Dong (Jing Dong!!!) is the lead in a CCTV produced espionage drama!  And Yu Xiaowei is the lead in The New Miss Mermaid, a remake of the Korean series, except it’s cut in size to 120+ episodes with many changes. It’s been about ten years since these guys graduated from their respective drama schools, and is this finally their break? Since it’s mostly idol series that endear actors quickly to fans, even if those become hits, they may still not be that famous.

Now that his company Jungiery is in a state of limbo , Ming Dao seems have found a niche doing idol series in China – he’s finished shooting two for Hunan TV and another for Anhui TV. Annie Chen, Li Yifeng and Niu Mengmeng, also star in the drama, Happiness is Definitely Strong.

Meteor Shower releases another batch of 382459 trailers…and apparently Anhui TV ‘s partnership with GTV, Down with Love, starring Jerry Yan and Ella Chen has the original director of Meteor Shower, the guy who did The Outsiders. What does that mean? Did Anhui TV, who in general sucks, pull a fast one on Hunan?

One of those period pieces with large investment The Diamond Family was invited to a tv festival in France in October.  One of its leads, Feng Shaofeng also recently joined the cast of Mei Ren Xin Ji.

Behind the Scenes pictures from the modern day portion of the Myth Series can be seen here. Is this all Ren Quan is going to film?

Jiangsu and SMG (Dragon TV) are joining forces to expand, and go in a more nationwide direction. They both are two of the richest stations in China, but so far, are boring. Particularly Jiangsu. Hopefully this turns out well and they can start using all the money they have to make more interesting productions.

Movies

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Tangshan Earthquake cast and crew at the memorial site

The movie “Tangshan Earthquake” had already begun shooting in Hanzhou, but for beginning the shoot in the actual Tangshan area the actors and crew and producers came out in somber clothing at the memorial site of the devastating earthquake that occurred nearly forty years ago.

During the press conference, Lu Yi was spotted with a tatoo near his chest area. That’s a massive tattoo if it extends all the way to his upper arm.

Is it just me or are romantic comedies suddenly booming in China?

Yao Chen (Lurk) and Zhu Yuchen (Who Controls My Youth?) will be in a workplace romantic comedy, set to star shooting in September. Yao Chen places the editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine, and Zhu Yuchen is her rival. You know, if you asked me who I would like to be in such a film  these two wouldn’t have come to mind at first, but both have great comedic timing, and I’m so, so loving the idea now.

Another famous Chinese art-house film-maker is turning commercial: Jia Zhangke is leaving behind the films about simple life in China for a kung-fu flick. I daresay he’s a bit late with the bandwagon hopping in that regard – most Chinese directors did it in early 2000s. He says he’s still staying true to those indie roots, but I don’t really believe him.

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Kung Fu Hiphop 2 Trio: Wang Zi, Wilson Chen Bo-lin and Zhou Qiqi

Kung Fu Hiphop 2 began production, with Wilson Chen Bolin as the lead. Wilson, you’re way too good for this…why do you keep getting crappy roles? Wang Zi, one of the Lollipop members that can’t dance has a supporting role, and Zhou Qiqi, a singer is the female lead. She’s been strangely popping up this year in lots of movies, from number two lead in Rules Before Dating to singing the insert song in Sophie’s Revenge. She’s from Sichuan Conservatory of Music, and you know we’re biased towards any alumni of that school (or just anyone from Sichuan) so let’s she what she can do.

Chengdu I Love You, is slated to close the Venice Film Festival, quite the honor. Watch the trailer here, which show very little scenes that seem to capture the city’s essence. *sigh* The film intertwines 1976 Chendu with  2029 Chendu, with only a third dipping into the present, the latter segment being directed by a Korean who probably isn’t the best to show off present Chengdu, Sichuan. This is perhaps my favorite city in the world and I think this film won’t do anything to show its charm, and it desperately could use a tourism boost to help in rebuilding after the Sichuan earthquake.

HK film Assassins and Taiwan’s Prince of Tears will be in competition.

Now that Deng Chao‘s albino transformation is complete for Di Ren Jie, he says he unwillingly scares children running to their mothers with it. I makes me cry a little too. Draco Malfoy was supposed to be albino, and they didn’t go overboard with the makeup.

Sports

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17-year old Sun Yang with his bronze for the 1500m Freestyle

I used to never really pay attention to this before, but FINA World Championships definitely drew my attention this year with the drama, the insults hurled and the boost of Michael Phelps‘s presence post-Olympics (although Ryan Lochete‘s pictures were still #1 searched).

China was second in the medal count, after the US, much better than two years ago at the last FINA championships where they were fourth. Much of the success was due to the improvement in Chinese swimming.

1.98 (6 ‘6)  Sun Yang who, at only age 17, I thought it would be until the next Olympics before he would medal at all, got bronze in the1500 m relay, and got  first in the heats. Cute, but he should smile more though…like Zhang Lin.

China’s women relayers did great. Not only did the 4×200 team win, but the 4x100m medley relay team broke the world record at 3 min 52.19 secLe Zheshi was the youngest on the team at only age 14. Another girl who I can’t remember won the gold in some individual event.

Fina vice-president Hironoshin Furuhashi sadly died in his sleep while attending. He was 80 and known as the flying fish in his day. And finally Phelps beat Cavic once again, after some exchanges of words,  and he even broke the world record while he did it.

The next one will apparently be taking place in Shanghai, China, two years from now. Exciting.

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31 thoughts on “News Roundup 7/25/09 – 8/2/09

  1. @mrpeng: Fusion was signed on by Jonathon Lee. In case you don’t know who that is, he’s currently one of the members of Superband. Fusion’s album included a song featuring another member of Superband, A-Yue. Fusion is the first Mainland Chinese band that I listened to without regret. (There was also the Flowers, but there was regret involved. I didn’t listen to the Da Da until later.)

    The whole revolution idea seems a bit much, but I do think that Mainland indie and Taiwanese indie alike are leaving their mark. There are some non-pop artists behind quite a few pop songs and they’re also making the charts and getting awards.

  2. Yeah, Bao Jian Feng flares up quickly but dies out quickly. It never seems to last – maybe I think it’s because he hasn’t been able to ride on his success and carry it on or something. It’s odd – like fireworks, LOL.

  3. @A. Jing Dong is about the same age as Yan Kuan, both slightly younger than Yu Xiaowei. He seems new because he’s not in as many series; he does more stagework…which, imo, gives an actor a very good foundation. I love the acting from stage actors! That coupled with the fact that he’s from Central, makes me really curious to see if he’s as good an actor as I’m hoping. He gave off a completely different vibe in the Infernal Lovers trailer vs his sweet role in Chuan Guan Dong so that’s a god sign.

    @idarklight
    Bao Jianfeng was in Dreamlinks, but he wasn’t the lead. To capture hardcore fanbase, you have to be in something that is either megapopular (HZGG, Meteor Garden where everyone, bad or good at acting, involved gained fans for eternity) or something that is fairly popular (Dream Links) and be the wonderful, romantic lead, not the boring secondary. I wish Alex Fong wasn’t the lead…he was wayyyy older than Zhang Jiani. They could have cast Bao Jianfeng. He’s older too, but not ewww old. Yet still, whenever I see articles of Alex Fong there are comments by netizens, like “I love you Alex Fong! You’re the best! So shuai! So romantic!” and I’m pretty sure it’s because they loved his character in Dreamlinks. His character was the kind to grab undying fans, not Bao Jianfeng’s.

    I think Bao Jianfeng is a decent actor actually…but his role in Dream Links was boring and didn’t realy show off much. Again, that’s why he didn’t benefit that much from the show.

    @hobielover

    It’s really sad that the only mainland bands people know are usually The Flowers or Fusion. Or maybe Silver Ash. Of course, mainland pop music doesn’t fare that much better…apart from the boybands.

    On that note, The Frogs are coming back with an album this month! Yayyyyyyyy!

    @mrpeng

    This isn’t directed towards you…more just everyone…

    Chinese bands aren’t good because an article from the Guardian (barf) says it’s so. It’s good because they have good music.

    It really bothers me when people say that China has good music finally because of HIT-5. Seriously, no just no. It’s simply more western. More western music does not mean that China has better music. It simply means it has more western music, which could be a sign of diversification or erosion or lack of focus on Chinese-styled music.

    Since we’re brought up in an western environment, we become acclimated to the sounds of western music. It sounds good to us, because we’re used to it, and we’re in a culture where that’s what’s cool, the norm. I feel like Asian Americans just want Asians who do western music…they don’t really care about real Asian culture.

  4. @ Cfensi – there are people who say that about China? That boy bands are an indication of good music? O_O

    I wouldn’t say rock or indie is less Western than pop/boy band stuff, though; if you listen to those rock groups and more than a few indie groups list their influences, they’ve got roots in the UK and the US. It’s not abandoning Chinese culture to inject these genres with their style; after all, it’s not like bluegrass is considered any more mainstream in the US (for shame, IMO, but I digress) than ethnic music in China. That’s the fate of the mainstream-abandoned “ethnic” music pretty much anywhere, and they all live on in their niches, anyway. Meanwhile, mainstream music is an evolving global culture, and China is making its mark on it. It’s not abandoning “real Asian culture” by “doing Western music” any more than any American classical composer is abandoning American roots by doing European music. It’s also a two-way street, since I’ve been seeing some world music bands from the UK incorporate distinctly Chinese styles into their repertoire. Music is universal, making its mark in every culture and being carved from the culture of all peoples. At least, IMO…

    @ mr peng – The article fails for mostly featuring Carsick Cars, but while talking about the “Shanghai scene”. Foreigner geographic fail, or a linguistic/semantic one? Perhaps they meant BEIJING rock band Carsick Cars playing in Shanghai? But they didn’t even mention the band’s Beijing roots and the strong Beijing rock/indie scene they’re from. Of course, I’ve got my biases…

    On another note, Fusion is the one rock band I’m not interested in, haha. They’ve got a rather commercial sound. That said, I guess I’ll check their album out at some point.

  5. @Nepheliad

    Yeah, sometimes it seems Asian Americans really do measure an Asian country’s music by how good their boybands are. It was very frustrating when HIT-5 and Top Combine first appeared on the scene. People were like…finally, good Chinese music which was a bit wtf for me.

    I wasn’t targeting hip hop music specifically actually…I was overall dismayed at people using western music as a benchmark of goodness. I don’t mind diversification. I really am rooting for MT Muzik to be successful mainstream, to pave the road for all those other hiphop artists in China that haven’t been able to tap into the mainstream market, unlike the rockers.

    I just get dismayed when more traditional Chinese sounds get dismissed as being lesser. While globalization has brought this idea to Asia in general, I think it’s particularly prevalent amongst Asians living in the west sometimes, who really have no Asians in the western media to look up to in music and try to find that same culture in Asia, but stop there and don’t look further. It becomes not about being “Asian” but rather finding western culture with an Asian face attached. I really wish the Chinese-language market would be big enough to spread some globalization in the different direction. It’s the only one that has some chance of rivaling the English language market…market’s and trend are tied by language, not country borders.

    Eh…I’m starting to sound like one of those radical Asian pride people…

    The Guardian article seems a bit poorly put together…I agree. Usually the Guardian is okay though – it doesn’t have heavy anti-China bias like other British papers, like Time Online.

    I’m not sure why it’s focusing on Shanghai since most of the rock bands are Beijing-based. Shanghai is nowhere comparable, although it’s improving. But it doesn’t have the mass pool of talent that Beijing does.

  6. @Cfensi, I wonder if those Asian Americans who take Western music and use it as a benchmark to measure the success of Chinese music has anything to do with their level of comfort? I feel that Asian Americans tend to seek out Asian music with western flavor, which is why Korean music is so popular among overseas Asians.

    I find that many of my Asian American peers tend to seek out only Chinese songs with Western flavor. This makes me wonder whether it has anything to do with their level of familiarity and comfort zone. If one were to listen to songs from Song Zuying, they would find them outdated or ancient. To some people, modernization means westernization, and I think it’s a sad truth.

  7. @cfensi
    I feel like you’re underemphasizing the importance of minor characters in dramas. Unlike movies, dramas have enough air-time so that even minor characters in dramas may have more screentime than a movie. I think given great skill with scriptwriter and acting, minor characters can be as successful if not more than the leads. And I know you think that the minor characters shouldn’t draw away from the main roles (ie. Meteor Shower), but I feel that as long as the main characters are good, there’s no problem with smaller plotlines being excellent when they connect back to the main one. That’s one of the reasons why I admire Jin Yong. His main characters are very welldone, but even more impressive is the way he characterizes the smaller ones. His sub-plots are always done so that they’re not simply a parallel thread, but are a part of a net that’s essential for the main story. For example, Chen Hao as A’zi and Liu Tao as A Zhu were brilliant, even though neither gets much screentime compared to the leads. Zheng Shuang as Tian Shan Tong Lao has an even smaller role, but she was very impressive.

  8. I can see what you’re saying, and I admit, I really am less knowledgeable about dramas than movies, but:

    “minor characters can be as successful if not more than the leads”

    I feel that if the minor character does usurp the attention that much, then there is a problem, because the main character takes up most of the attention.

    Specifically, for Dream Links though, I thought it was well-made in that regard, particularly because the idea was for you to fall in love with Alex Fong, and not Bao Jianfeng. In general I’m separating the supporting character’s importance from their “loveability” when talking about Bao Jianfeng.

    There are character roles that I do love, though…for example Ge You’s character in Wei Cheng. He was memorable definitely. But it doesn’t usurp the attachment and ability to empathize with Chen Daoming’s central character.

  9. I think that given the choice, it’s better to have a well-developed main character than a well-developed minor character. However, if the main character’s level is to stay the same, and as long as the minor character really is an unique character (and not as a foil to the main character…ie. Yang Kang), the excellence of the minor character will not diminish but only add to the quality of the story. I feel like you’re wanting to make the minor characters inferior only to make the leads look better…but as long as the minor characters don’t take away from the positive qualities of the leads, I think it’s fine.

  10. Gah, there is soooo much wrong with that guardian article it makes my head spin. I think indie rock fans in both Beijing & Shanghai would have to laugh.

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