Sunday, August 26, 2007
One benefit of China's lax intellectual property policies is that music is nearly free. A grocery store near our hotel had a music and video counter with all sorts of professionally produced bootleg CDs and DVDs. I still haven't watched all the bootleg DVDs I bought in Vietnam, but I wanted to get an inkling of Chinese tastes in music. I ended up buying three CDs for about $2.50 each. Here is a little information about each one.
Black Eyed Peas - Monkey Business
I picked the Black Eyed Peas nearly at random from quite a number of American acts were available. The Peas were the most tolerable to my tastes from the rather pop heavy selection. All the Chinese bootlegs are double discs with way more songs than on the official release.
If you mouse over the image, you can see the back cover with the track list or you can click here for a bigger view. Each disc has 18 tracks and some are listed as album versions and some as remixes. Two of the American version tracks are missing and except for two verisions of "Don't Phunk With My Heart", none of the songs on Disc 2 are on the US release. The final track on Disc 2 includes a guest appearance by Ustin Timberlake. Part of the irony on the back cover is the copright notice for the Hong Kong/Singapore/Malaysia/Canada market Whether this is the real thing or just part of the counterfeit versimlitude, I don't know.
S.H.E. - Play
I saw posters for this group everywhere, so I grabbed this CD expecting a bunch of bland Asia-pop and I wasn't disappointed. The three singers were all on a Taiwanese version of American Idol and the record company decided to rename them Selina Ren, Hebe Tian and Ella Chen so that the initial of their first names spells S.H.E. They have recorded over ten albums and have videos on You Tube and everything.
Some of their songs are in English, but most are in Chinese. A lot of music from Taiwan is popular in mainland China even though official political ties are very strained. I don't know if S.H.E has crossover appeal outside China, but they are huge in Asia.
Lee Hyori - Dark Angel
You can't judge a book by the cover, but that is how I bought this CD. I just picked the hottest looking album art. I thought the artist was going by Dark Angel, but that was the album name instead. The Anglicized name of this artist is Lee Hyori which is nowhere on the cover art. She is a Korean actress that also does K-pop with a hard R&B edge.
As you can tell from the video, she takes a lot of cues from American hip-hop and while it would be tame for a Beyonce video, it pushes the envelope for Korea. Which of course raises the question of how much a Chinese consumer is understanding of the Korean lyrics. The second disc contains a lot of older schmaltzier pop songs more in line with traditional Asia-pop.
All three albums contained two discs full of tracks for one low price. The production values on the CDs themselves are excellent. They include a sleeve over the jewel case, with inside pamphlets that include lyrics and credits. While I can't condone the complete lack of payment to the artists, US record companies could pay some attention to the quality and value the Asian counterfeit consumer gets for their money.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: Would you listen to either S.H.E or Lee Hyori if they sang in English?