All posts tagged: Music

The Best of the Art of Chinese Central Asia in 2014

There were many changes in Xinjiang in 2014. While some segments of the population saw 2014 as a year full of exciting new developments; others saw it as a year of increased desperation. Despite these changes life goes on. People always find a ways to survive and thrive. Below are our five most read pieces in 2014. Thank you to all of you that follow this blog for your continued support and readership. We are looking forward to bringing you more interesting stories of life in Chinese Central Asia in 2015. So You Think Uyghurs Can Dance? May 2014 “With the so much attention being paid to violence emanating from Xinjiang, many of you may have missed the parade of Uyghur dancers who have recently taken the stage on the Chinese version of “So You Think You Can Dance” (Zhongguo Hao Wudao). Not only do we have the child star turned adult tap-dancer Yusupjan, the nine-year old break-dancer Surat Taxpolat who goes by the stagename “Little Meatball”, and the teenage break dancerUmid Tursun but we also have the model family …

Ablajan Channels “The Fast and The Furious” Kashgar-Style

Ablajan Awut Ayup is trending again in Uyghur cyberspace. Uyghur Weixin and popular social media sites like Misranim are amping-up Ablajan’s meteoric rise in Uyghur pop culture. This time it’s not just his highly orchestrated K-pop-style dance-ensemble performances, his catchy rhymes and bad-boy persona. Ablajan is crossing over. China, meet A-bo-la-jiang. In October the pop star released his first official Mandarin-language music video. It is epic. Starting from the top of an Ürümchi tower, Ablajan, his gang of slick Uyghur urbanites, his girl and his wingman, the rapper McKelly, take us on a car chase through Xinjiang cityscapes. Although the song itself is a fairly straightforward lyric of unrequited love and a playboy scared-straight, the imagery, like Bieber’s 2012 epic music video, is reappropriated from Hollywood car movies and Michael Jackson dance videos. After plotting the way the song, titled “Today,” has been transformed in its journey from Uyghur to Chinese, I will point out some of the key moments in the video when echoes of Beiber and Jackson emerge in a Uyghur imaginary. The Song In …

The Silk Road of Pop: Reviewed

The film The Silk Road of Pop (2013: 53 min.) ends with a young Uyghur rapper saying that he wants the world to know that Uyghurs exist. The man, a sculpted crop of hair jutting from his chin, says “Aside from China, who knows that Uyghurs exist? Zero percent.” As a view from a train window merges into film credits while the Uyghur singer Perhet Xaliq and his wife Pezilet sing an old song of Uyghur youth “sent-down” from the city, the pathos of his plea seem to resonate with the atmosphere of the land, the tight cement block apartments, the frozen sidewalks paved with Shandong tiles. Being contemporary Uyghurs is something that young people in Xinjiang seem to think about and perform all the time. You can hear it in the air. Why doesn’t the sound they make travel back to them? This mesmerizing new documentary film by the Canadian and Swiss filmmakers Sameer Farooq and Ursula Engel pulls the viewer in and out of the dense soundscape of Northwest China. Moving between the …

Speaking for the “Dao Lang”: Cultural appropriation and the singer Luo Lin

I first heard of “Dao Lang” from an economics professor on the way to a fancy dinner at a four star hotel on the northwest corner of the People’s Square in downtown Urumqi.[1] We had been discussing our taste in cars as we slowly careened across three lanes of traffic and walkers. The professor said she found the American Hummer to be the best car and then turning, as though catalysed by the brawn and force of a combination of army machine and Michigan muscle, she asked if I had ever heard of Dao Lang. She said he was the best Xinjiang singer. Later during the dinner with an investment banker who commuted between Urumqi and Beijing, she brought him up again. The banker too attested to his fondness of Dao Lang’s musical stylings. He said that, after coming to Xinjiang, listening to Dao Lang just made sense. He liked his “flavour.” As I mentioned last week, one of the reasons the recent red song “Harmonious Xinjiang” does not resonate with marginalized minority people is …