Monday Music: Chinese Classics

Timeless Chinese songs that stayed true from childhood to university

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“Monday Music” in orange block text on a yellow rectangular background with rounded corners and an orange border.
Monday Music: your weekly themed playlist. Image courtesy of The Peak.

By: Cristina Liao, Peak Associate and Nancy La, Copy Editor

Many Chinese songs have a place in our hearts as a symbol of home and culture. Some featured in this list are gems that withstood the test of time. Others are classics that many Chinese students would know. Either way, enjoy this playlist of songs that we hold near and dear because every song featured in it is special to us in some way. 

 

by Wang Feng


Photo Credit: Music Nation Records Co. Ltd. 

CL: The title of this song directly translates to In Spring. This is a song that has shaped my music taste to what it is today. I have a distinct childhood memory of listening to this as my family and I drove along the highways of the Californian seaside while we were on vacation. It’s one of those incredible pieces of music that I continually come back to because I am obsessed with the singer’s raspy voice and the tune’s rock-like production. Wang sings about his past and reminisces about a time when he was young and naïve. 

 

告白气球 by Jay Chou


Photo Credit: JVR Music International Ltd. 

CL: “告白气球” by Jay Chou is a song that I’ve been listening to since middle school and something that Chinese students will be familiar with. The song’s title is word play on the term 告白, which is a romantic confession, translating to “White Confession Balloon” in English. Chou’s music ranges from Chinese rap like “Now You See Me” to pop, such as this song. In fact, both of the mentioned tracks can be found on the same record! Chou is known for his time as a coach on The Voice of China, a singing competition that is extremely popular in both Mainland China as well as Taiwan. This particular song has a cute and relaxing summer feel to it with an uplifting beat and simple lyrics about coffee shops by the sea side. It’s a perfect track for listening on a warm August afternoon or a bedroom karaoke party. It’s one of those rare Mandopop songs that I know all the words to. 

 

江湖天 by Silence Wang


Photo Credit: The Sound Times Entertainment Media

CL: I first heard this beautiful song in a popular Chinese drama called The Legend of the Condor Heroes. The show in question is based on an iconic book written by Chinese author Jing Yong, and has multiple editions made from as early as 1983. The production on this has influences from traditional Chinese music with cultural instruments that sound like guqin and bamboo flute found throughout the song, and the style of piano the backing track. Its lyrics are infused with imagery and idioms. It is difficult to translate the song’s title into English because Wang wrote the title as an idiom but my best attempt would be “Immortal Life by the River.”

 

Nancy 

佳损” by Eason Chan


Photo Credit: Cinepoly Records Co. Ltd. 

NL: Eason Chan is considered to be one of Hong Kong’s top singer/songwriter, and his songs are always so well written. “最佳损友,” or “Best Bad Friend,” will instantly punch you in the gut with lyrics full of adulthood resignation. The song is about mourning for a best friend who is no longer in one’s circle as life has split in different ways. I’m sure we all have people in our lives whom we once thought would stay with us forever. However, when reality creates irreconcilable differences between two people, there is nothing to do but to drift apart while wishing them the best. The lines that moved me to tears translate to, “I can no longer tell whether we are friends or foes / pushed around and moved by everyday life / in the future, that stranger that I see / is yesterday’s dearest person.” 

 

消愁 by Mao Buyi


Photo Credit: 北京智慧大狗文化傳媒有限公司

NL: This song perfectly captures the various growing pains a person experiences throughout their lives. The song is sung from the perspective of a middle-aged person looking back and forth from their life, to the moments of bright, seemingly eternal youth, to the heartbreak of moving away from home, the slowly aging body, and finally, the freedom that death promises. While Mao’s timbre grounds the listener, the song’s lyrics washes them with sadness and grief of a life with too many regrets. With lines such as, “Life is bitter and short, why must we hang on so tightly?” this song will make you reflect on the life that you’re living.