The Day the Music Died: China Blacklists 120 Songs for ‘Morality’ Violations

singer-china-bloomberg-wsj

How do you boost a song’s popularity? In China, now there’s a new option: put it on a government blacklist.

Hu Xin reports: China’s Ministry of Culture this week banned 120 songs for “containing content that promotes sex, violence or crime, or harms public morality.” According to a notice posted on the ministry’s website late Monday, streaming music sites and karaoke parlors must remove the offending songs within 15 days or else face an unspecified “severe punishment.” The songs are also banned from commercial performance.

Of the 120 blacklisted tunes, many contain explicit language or touch on amorous themes, with lyrics about “making love” and “one night stands.”

“You see why China will never have its own Eminem now. Hip-hop is popular in America because you can sing everything you want.”

— Music fan on Weibo

Some stars such as Taiwan’s Ayal Komod and MC Hotdog have songs that made the list. Yet about one-fifth of the banned songs were penned by two Chinese hip-hop groups, In 3 and Xinjiekou. While lauded by fans of the genre, the two bands – who sing about their daily lives and sometimes voice their anger towards society — are little-known outside mainland hip-hop circles.

“Have they really listened to those songs or did they just judge them based on their titles?”

MC Han, one of the founders of Xinjiekou, told China Real Time in a phone interview Tuesday that he is not frustrated by the sudden blacklisting of eight of his songs.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

“It actually serves as a reminder for composers like us and helps guide our music creation,” he said of the ban. “Those songs were written to express our true feelings when we were less mature.”

“We aim to spread ‘positive energy’ and an optimistic attitude through hip-hop,” he added, borrowing a signature phrase of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Read the rest of this entry »