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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Long time no blog!

OMG I've been slacking off :(( I just had a hectic week with finals (and more finals in the future), plus the whole visa applying process and medical checkups had been a hassle. :((
Or probably I was so distracted by THIS SONG: (and yes, I know it's not Chinese, it's Korean and yes I don't even know what the heck 1004 means but hey, it's so catchy, plus there's beatbox in it) :D So check it out

Sidenote: This is my first non-DBSK "love at first sight" Korean song :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My upcoming semester abroad!!!!

Yes yes yes yes I'm coming to America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I got my plane tickets today! Hanoi-Tokyo-Chicago-Minneapolis woohoooooooo)

So the hermit me (and by hermit I mean I've never been outside of the country before, I'm definitely not a misanthrope) finally got the chance to study abroad. I'm one of ten Vietnamese students to be awarded the Global Ugrad scholarship (if any Vietnamese fellow happens to stumble on this blog, here is the info for this year's scholarship!!!!!!). I felt so lucky and grateful that I will get the chance to come to the states. I still vividly recall the memory of last year, when a very good friend of mine told me about this once-in-a-life time opportunity. I still remember it was on Nov 11 (which is today) :D and the deadline was on Nov 16... Oh well, you bet I had three sleepless night, scouring the internet for instructions on how to write personal statement, running back and forth to find my professors for the recommendation letters, and spending an inordinate amount of time and effort to wade through the red tape that is my school... It all paid off, it all paid off. And while I'm typing this, I can't help holding back my tears. I know I could never have gotten the means to study abroad, let alone the U.S without financial aid. And this scholarship, even though for only one semester, has made my dream come true. So thank you! U.S Department of State, thank you so very much...

So for the next Jan to May period, I'll be staying at Carlson School of Management at University of Minnesota (Hello twin cities). I was scared at first when I learned that 1. Minnesota is one of the coldest state in US and 2. Also the whitest state (I have nothing against white, but I just think I'd be more comfortable to be somewhere that has a lot of Asians) but hey, if I am polite and friendly, things are gonna be fine right?? Let's hope so!! :)

So in my prime and cheery mood at the moment, I think I'm gonna play something cheerful, let's see, oh yes, The flower band (花儿乐队) (ew I despite the English translation). These are two of their most popular songs, the first is a hit "Xi shua shua" and the second is my personal pick (Do you get a 相声vibe from the song?? Hahhahaha) Enjoy it, friends :)

I play this whenever I clean the house or mop the floor :">

I especially love the way they rock-play their traditional musical instruments near the end <3

Monday, November 8, 2010

Childhood song (Part II) and a little bit of personal ramblings...

So, I was reviewing my notes for my upcoming finals and I decided to procrastinate (what else is new here). Worst, I've been trolling on a lot lately and even commented on some of their articles (*punch self*, hey, at least I LIKE seoulbeats. Their articles are a lot longer, wittier, funnier than, whose credibility is sometimes very debatable) Oh, for your information, I love Kpop too, just not as much as Cpop because I hate it when I don't understand what people are singing. For me, a song consists of two parts: the music and they lyrics. The music, the melody help convey the emotions, the sentiments, the feelings of the singer/writer while the lyrics is the physical manifestation of those feelings. And I find it frustrating when I listen to something beautiful yet cannot fathom its meanings.

Okay, where was I? Ah, I love Kpop too. And my favorite artists of all time are DBSK and recently Big Bang. Although they have different styles, there is one thing in common : they are the biggest and the best Korean band I've ever heard (I like DBSK more though, because in case you can't tell from previous posts, I'm kinda a sucker for ballads and sweet vocals, and personally I think Kim Junsu has the best vocal in the entire Korean entertainment industry. See here and here for yourself, this one right here and here are DBSK at their finest (all the links are their LIVE performances, LIVE I'm telling you) and if you need more proof, buy the Tokyo Dome live DVD :)

Okay, back to the title. I think I've done enough of ramblings and now it's time for the second video in a series of Chinese songs that I've been listening to ever since I was a kid. "Journey to the West" or 西游记 is a staple in Chinese culture (In fact, I think all the Great Four books in 四大名著 are). But unlike the morose and profound "Dream of the Red Mansion", the bandit drama-like "Water Margin" and the historically-inspired "Romance of the Three kingdoms", the 16th-century "Journey to the West" for me is like an impeccably written fairy tale, full of adventurous quests and endowed with magical properties. Sun Wukong, the Monkey King with his 72 magic tricks or transformation, is like the cinema version of Doraemon (though Wukong is much more of a trouble maker than the robotic cat) with his poket. I've read and seen all of the four books but to this day I only recall details from 西游记 (Seriously, you can't expect a elementary schooler to comprehend the other three, right?). I guess if you're from East Asia and South East Asia, you would know the whole story by heart now :) 

So now in the midst of finals and papers, and I know this is also the college app seasons in the states and all of us are now probably too overwhelmed with work, I'd like to dedicate the soundtrack of the popular drama "Journey to the West" to all of you. The melody, as expected from the 80s and early 90s, is beautiful and the lyrics are just inspiring. The words can actually act as a summary of the whole drama, with a lot of references to the plots. All in all, the song's about how people, despite many obstacles and adversity will always persevere and conquer all hardship. So, enjoy it

And here are the lyrics:
迎来日出, 送走晚霞。
一番番春秋冬夏. 一场场酸甜苦辣。

Okay, it's 1 a.m already! I think I'm gonna review until 2 and then hit the sacks. Great week ahead everyone!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Zhongguohua parody! Priceless!!!!

You just have to love the way Chinese people make parodies (especially the lipsync ones) :) I don't get how they can retain the rhymes and still make it super hilarious. Today's I'm giving you one prime example :

 Zhongguojia (Chinese price)
This is a parody of S.H.E's very famous Zhongguohua. The original song by S.H.E is about the Chinese pride and their love for the Chinese language. This is probably the most nationalistic Chinese song (not sure if "nationalistic" is a correct word, since S.H.E is a Taiwanese group). The chorus of the original song is like this "The whole world is learning Chinese now. Confucius's teachings/words is getting globalized each day. The whole world is speaking Chinese now. The whole world is genuinely listening to what we're saying now". (yep, not a smooth translation but you get the point)

Now, this parody makes fun of the rapid price hike (inflation) in China, and how the salary hasn't been keeping up with the rising cost of living (I feel you fellows) and how young Chinese people's struggling to live in a modern and expensive big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, etc.... It's super duper funny and socially relevant at the same time. See for yourself here:

And here's the lyrics (the parody, not the original one) :
物价高 物价涨 工资想跟上物价涨
物价高 物价涨 工资跟不上物价涨

成都赵幺妹 买不起衣服送妈妈
天津来的钱老大 天天都吃面疙瘩
...全国各地的人民 全国各地地方话

好聪明的中国人 好疯狂的中国价

物价高 物价涨 工资想跟上物价涨
物价不让工资跟上物价涨 工资偏要跟上物价涨
物价偏偏不让工资跟上那物价涨 不求工资高但求价别涨

老公老婆有工作 老公今年二十多 老婆比他小得多 老公说 先买房
老婆说 先买车 按揭买房 贷款买车 最后还是没钱买房 没油开车

全世界都在学中国价 中国的物价 越来越国际化
全世界都在讲中国价 我们的物价 让美国都认真听话

上海孙阿拉 贷款买房压力大
深圳来既黄先生 生病花咗八万八
全国各地的人民 全国各地地方话

好聪明的中国人 好疯狂的中国价

有个学生叫小郭 大学花了六万多 毕业了 找工作 每月工资一千多
没有房 别提车 结婚更是没着落 C P I 跑不过 这样的 还挺多

生不起 一万几 生得起 养不起 养得起 学不起 学得起 娶不起
娶得起 生不起 生了又是一万几 最后我还病不起 病了我还死不起

全世界都在学中国价 中国的物价 越来越国际化
全世界都在讲中国价 我们的物价 让美国都认真听话

Vienna boys choir sang China's most famous folk song! Incredible

老天爷啊! I stumbled upon this video on youtube. This is incredible in so many ways. First, their VOICESSSSSSSSSSS... There's something about boys choir that just makes your heart melts (That French drama film Les Choristes, anyone?). Second, they sang in Mandarin, which for Westerners is quite difficult to master the pronunciation. And third, they actually did it better than most performances of the song I know. So without further ado, here it is... *drums roll*

About the song: This is probably the most recognized and for me the most beautiful Chinese folk song (there are so many great Chinese folk songs consider how vast geographically and historically China is, but this is my absolute favorite). The name is Jasmine Flower or 茉莉花. Like most folk songs, the lyrics are very simple yet sweet at the same time and the melody is just as exquisite. If you'd love to sing along, here are the words

Hǎo yī duǒ měi lì de mò li huā
Hǎo yī duǒ měi lì de mò li huā
Fēn fāng měi lì mǎn zhī yā
Yòu bái yòu xiāng rén rén kuā
Ràng wǒ lái jiāng nǐ zhāi xià
Sòng gěi bié rén jiā
Mò li huā yā mò li huā

Okay, happy weekend everyone! Hope you enjoy this as much as I do <3

Friday, November 5, 2010

Artist of the month: 刘文正 (Liu Wenzheng)

I need to say right off the bat that Liu is my favorite Chinese singer. I think I have a thing for Taiwanese singers since my top 3 artists Liu Wenzheng, Jay Chou and Wang Lee Hom all hail from this island (Lee Hom is actually American-born Taiwanese but since he always refers to himself as a Taiwanese singer, let's just see him that way). What I love about Liu is his voice, and if I may say this, he has a very endearing sweet vocal, it's almost like he's the female version of Teresa Teng. When I was a volunteer for Vietnam 1st International Film Festival (which btw was an awkward and embarrassing failure in the organizing process), I got assigned to a Chinese actress and acted as her interpreter and much to my surprise and disappointment, she looked at me wide-eyed when I said Liu Wenzheng was my favorite Chinese artist. "He's ancient", she said, "I heard of him before but never really listened to his song. How come you know the guy anyway??". If even a Chinese native speaker, a mainland-born 23-year-old girl doesn't really know and appreciate Liu Wenzheng, I doubt any foreigners or Chinese learners would hear of him. Come on, the guy's not too old. He was born in 1952 and was once Taiwan's (if not the entire Chinese-speaking countries') biggest sensation. His greatest contribution is the successful promotion of  校园歌曲 (songs about campus life/students' life). What's mysterious about him is that he decided to leave the music industry at the peak of his time. He immigrated to the US in 1991 and despite the crazy searching effort by Taiwanese paparazzi, no one really knows what happened to him since then, although some says he's a propriety businessman now (actually Wiki says it). So let's discover this impeccable gem of the entire Cpop industry, shall we?

Liu Wenzheng, was once Taiwan's 红的男歌手(hottest male singer), to the point that "比现在的周杰伦绝对是有过之而无不及", meaning he's no less famous than our present humongous star Jay Chou. Liu also starred in some movies and he's gotten an impressively huge and solid fanbase. He's the first one to introduce and popularize 校园歌曲-type songs. And he's regarded as one of Chinese (as in, all Chinese-speaking places) dazzling stars, with many great contributions for the music industry. He used his distinctive, sweet and celestial vocal and his genuine emotions to write many of Chinese classic songs. To name just a few 诺言, 小雨打在我身上, 奈何,寻,睡莲,为青春欢唱,却上心头,热线你和我,太阳一样, etc... In 1976, he dabbled in movies and TV series like 门里门外, 跳跃的爱情, 爱情文凭牛仔裤, 闪亮的日子, 却上心头... He took part in a total of more than 20 TV productions.

For most of people born after 1985, Liu Wenzheng is an unfamiliar name, but for the 70s, 80s Chinese peopl, you must have been living under a rock if you hadn't heard about the guy. Liu was the youngest in a wealthy Taiwanese family. He had one brother and two sisters who lived in the states, and since he's the youngest son, he was very loved and cared for by his family. His parents were probably the coolest Asian parents I've ever heard of, always encouraging and never protest his love and passion for music. When Liu became a symbol of Chinese music, he's so popular that anywhere there's a Chinese people, there were people who worshiped him, tried to emulate and imitate him (like what the world did with MJ, Madonna and lately Lady Gaga). His sudden and untimely withdrawal from the Chinese entertainment industry really took his fans and his many celebrity friends aback. Some even criticized him, telling him "if he considered them as friends, why did he leave without saying goodbye". The guy did such a good job at hiding his whereabouts that when there were countless number of times newspaper announced his fake death, his friends didn't even know whether to trust the news or not. There were also numerous rumors and speculations surrounding his decision to depart from the entertainment world and his life after that, but it seemed like no one was able to verify any of those.

Okay, enough about the guys. Here are my three absolute favorites from him, each with a different style and topic. I hope you guys will give him a try after this and will love and respect him as much as I do (Oh I forgot the guy was a lyrics genius so check out the meaning of his songs as well :D).

1.童年(Child hood) --> a very representative 校园歌曲

2. 阿美阿美 --> AHhhh, this is a feel-good, a bit mushy love song. For me, a Chinese version of Uptown girl :D

3. 秋蝉 (Cicada in Autumn) --> This one is so relaxing, the lyrics itself is as beautiful as a poem :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My very first post! Chinese songs in my childhood

Yay to my very post!!!!

I meant to write much much sooner but I was so caught up in homework and midterms in the past two weeks. My somewhat limited English vocab didn't help much either, as I struggled to find the right words to get my point across. (It was always like this, I sat in front of the computer, typed for about 10-15 minutes, the paragraphs felt awkward, I deleted the whole thing, repeated the above process for about 5-6 times, I got frustrated so I hit the books and completely forgot that I wanted to write my first post for my first blog..)
Anyway, I digress...

Okay, back to the topic!  You know how people say you can never forget your childhood? My formative years, like those of the majority of Vietnamese children, were filled with C-drama and Japanese manga (Talk about manga, Doraemon, Inuyasha, Rurouni Kenshin and Slamdunk are my all-time favorites :D). I can still vividly recall our family snuggling together in front of the TV set, watching with excitement from 还珠格格 (Princess Pearl) to 宰相刘罗锅(The Hunchback Prime Minister Liu) to 包青天(Justice Bao) to 梁山伯与祝英台(The butterfly lovers?). And don't even get me started on the  四大名著 (The four great novels of the Chinese literature)... I think you guys can have a pretty good picture of the prevalence of C-drama in the TV lives of most Vietnamese people in the 90s. Those dramas, mostly about Chinese history and literature were such a big hits in Vietnam. They were so famous, to the point that Vietnamese people can comprehend most of the historical and cultural references, especially from the Great four books, especially about 三国演义(Romance of the three kingdoms). It is also not uncommon for us to use those references in our daily lives.

One a site note, for those who ask "what about the oh-so-mighty Korean wave that washed over Asia at that time??"... Well, the Hallyu/Korean wave only swept through Vietnam in '98, '99 and early 2000s while the the C-dramas were there ever since I can remember (I was born in '89). Besides, my dad totally despised K-drama, denouncing them as superficial, meaningless and a total waste of time. Until I was a senior in high school, I only saw like 2 or 3 K-dramas :(

Okay, now you ask "what does this thing have anything to do with Cpop or the title of this post???" My answer: THE SOUNDTRACK. To list all my favorite C-drama and their soundtracks and the reasons why I like love them would take at least 10 posts. So I'm gonna slowly introduce to you some of my favorite shows and songs in the future :). The one I'm giving you today is from my all-time favorite drama Justice Bao:

新鸳鸯蝴蝶梦 by 黄安 (the ending piece for 包青天/Justice Bao)

-About the movie: 包青天 or Justice Bao is like the early Asian version of 24h/CSI or any US legal drama, only no sex scenes, no swearing and with much much better song :D The 236-episode drama (gasp) surrounds the life of Bao Zheng (包拯), a much-vaunted official in the Song Dynasty for his righteousness, his compassionate heart and careful, thrilling investigation and his standing up to other powerful and corrupt officials in the society. It's worth noticing though, that most of the cases in the movies are largely fictionalized. Anyway, it should not dampen your enjoyment when watching it (provided you have the time! Hehe I'm so happy I watched all of them when I was small). In modern China, Bao Zheng is the symbol of justice!

-About the song: the name is Xin yuanyang hudie meng (新鸳鸯蝴蝶梦). Don't force me to translate it for you, I don't know how to convey all of the meaning and nuances in the title. Let's just say it roughly means dream of two lovebirds =.=
The lyric is beyond beautiful! (For Chinese learners, the video includes the traditional lyrics, so yay, we can sing along just fine). My favorite part is the the two sentences "抽刀断水水更流 举杯浇愁愁更愁"  taken from a very famous poem by the greatest Chinese poet Li Bai. It really adds this poignant sense to the song!
Huang An/黄安 is the singer. I sincerely think this is his one-hit wonder as I can't seem to find his other songs measure up to this one.

Justice Bao is a drama worth watching. The legacy of Bao Zheng is so far reaching that since the overwhelming success of Justice Bao, more and more movies about his early life/his cases have been spawn out. Some movie makers even attempt to remake this one but I doubt any future remake can hold a candle to the original!!!!! I highly recommend this series to anyone who is studying Chinese, interested in C-drama or simply wants to try something such a staple in another culture!!!!

Oh, and great week ahead everyone!!!!!!