Five Completely Non-Traditional Love Songs for Chinese Valentine’s

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1:00 AM HKT, Tue August 29, 2017 3 mins read

Hey, today is Qixi Festival!

The Qixi Festival (Chinese: 七夕節), also known as the Qiqiao Festival (乞巧節), is a Chinese festival that celebrates the annual meeting of the cowherd and weaver girl in Chinese mythology. It falls on the seventh day of the 7th month on the Chinese calendar. It is sometimes called the Double Seventh Festival, the Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Night of Sevens, or the Magpie Festival.

I’m sure there are plenty of traditional Chinese love songs one could play to commemorate this festival. Here are five tunes falling nowhere near that canon. Ditch the zither and bust out the guitars…

1. Hedgehog – “Tell Them I Love You”

Let’s kick this off with a certified classic of Chinese twee pop. Hedgehog are the unquestioned rulers of that roost, and this tune, from their fantastic 2009 album Blue Daydreaming, remains one of their biggest crowd pleasers. The lyrics consist of guitarist Zijian and drummer Shi Lu singing in harmony about all the people they want to tell about their lover (“my mom,” my friends,” “my dog,” et al). So sweet!

2. Miserable Faith – “May Love Be Without Worries”

Nice unplugged version of this power ballad by Beijing’s Miserable Faith, which formed in 1999 as a rap-metal group. They’ve mellowed a bit with age, incorporating elements from reggae and world music into more recent releases like their 2014 album that shares its name with this song. This one isn’t exactly about romantic love, but the first few lines are pretty on-topic:

像是写给爱人的歌 / Like a song written for a lover
四目相对从那一刻 / From the time we locked eyes
在有爱的早上带上神的孩子 / In the morning of love, bring the children of God
直到我们明天一起醒来/ Until we wake up tomorrow

3. Joyside – “Maybe Tonight”

Another classic, this one from famously wasted Beijing punks Joyside. It’s hard to measure just how influential Joyside, who broke up in 2009, have been on the bands that followed them. One way to judge would be to drop into Beijing punk dive School Bar on any given night — it was opened by Joyside’s bassist, Liu Hao, and is the home base for their singer, Bian Yuan, who often performs there solo. Another way would be to try to count the number of young leather-jacketed Beijing punks who’ve covered this song. I lost track years ago. Though perhaps best known for legendary feats of on-stage inebriation, this song reminds the listener that whatever else he is, Bian Yuan is a bona fide poet:

There Was A Tongue-Shy Boy,
Who Talked To The Kingdom Of Heaven
When His God Heard The Voice,
He Made Boy’s Heart A Diamond
And He Said:”Pain Will Come Twice,
When I Double Your Joy.
Finally, You Will Be One On That Boat,
And Sail Away From Sorrow.”

Tonight, Maybe Tonight

Look At That Pair Of Lovers,
Fading Parallel In The Sky
They Can Never Ever Get Closer,
The Nearest Distance Hides
He’s A Son Of Suspiration,
She’s A Daughter Of Desperation
They Will Light Up The Unseen Stars,
Then Crash Down Together & Fall Apart
Tonight, Maybe Tonight
Can’t You Feel The Moons Madly Shine
Can’t You Hear The Wind Wildly Sigh
All Joys Burst From The Pallid Eyes
While The Stars Are Blowing Up The Sky

4. Free Sex Shop – “Pretty 3”

Speaking of Joyside’s tribe, here are some of the best doing it today: Free Sex Shop (pictured up top). Their drummer Xiao Jie is School Bar’s manager, and that’s where they all met and decided to ply their trade. That’s where the majority of this brand-new music video, put together by Beijing rock scene veteran Hugh Reed, was shot, and where most of Beijing’s young rockers fall in love and lust circa 2017. For me this tune instantly channels the beer-flavored steam and chaos surrounding Beijing’s fast & loud, listless rock’n’roll youth. Millennial punk love anthem right here:

没想到世事无常 / Didn’t expect the world to be so impermanent
你要敢作敢当 / You dare to dare
别人的男朋友你就别再去尝 / Someone else’s boyfriend; don’t try again
露出你凶狠的表情 / Show your fierce expression
骗所有人 / Trick everyone
你们看不出来吧 / You all can’t see it
哈哈哈哈哈 / Hahahahahaha

5. Hang on the Box – “I’m Mine”

Last but not least (in fact, probably my favorite on this list), here’s one for all the singles out there who get thoroughly fed up with holidays celebrating romantic pair-bonding. This comes from Hang on the Box, a trailblazing all-female punk band formed in 1997 who’ve spent most of the last decade broken up, but have recently regrouped with a new lineup (still fronted by HOTB’s inimitable vocalist, Gia Wang) and are currently touring behind Oracle, their first album since 2007’s No More Nice Girls.

This ripper is the opening track from the band’s second album, Di Di Di (2003). Here’s your cause for inspiration today, tradition be damned:

I’m mine

I shine my blue light on you
Nobody can come up to me
Nobody can step in my heart
My heart is blind
So you can’t see that
My heart is dead
So you can’t feel that

I’m mine

I’ll take myself from birth to death
I’m all the water in the world
I’m wind
I’m Qomolangma
I want cosmos to seize my life
And look at me there

Did you feel cold?

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