Friday, August 21, 2015

Bon Jovi Sings in Chinese

Jon Bon Jovi takes on Chinese classic love song
Jon Bon Jovi has become the latest Western pop star to woo the Chinese market, singing what is arguably the most famous Chinese love song ever. The BBC analyses his attempt.

The music video, set in a recording studio, starts in soft focus as the soulful opening strains of The Moon Represents My Heart cue up.

Then, Jon Bon Jovi's familiar gravelly voice fades in. "Ni wen wo ai ni you duo shen, wo ai ni you ji fen..." croons the American rock star in somewhat intelligible Mandarin.

"Jon put a lot of thought on choosing the right song for his Chinese fans," reads a statement on his website announcing the video.


Gift of love

Jon Bon Jovi's statement said he chose the "heart-warming classic for Chinese fans as a gift on Chinese Valentine's Day".

But there are actually two Chinese Valentine's Days.

One is Qixi Festival, which falls on 20 August this year. It marks the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, and is linked to the legend of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl - star-crossed lovers who remain separated but reunite one day every year.

The other Valentine's Day is Yuanxiao Festival, which marks the end of the traditional Lunar New Year celebrations.


It's no coincidence that the video was released ahead of Jon Bon Jovi's Asia tour in September, where he'll be playing in China for the first time.

He is also performing in other places with significant Chinese populations such as Macau, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

While Western pop stars regularly play in Asia, it's rare for them to sing in Mandarin - but it's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and helps to boost their profile.


So how have the Chinese taken to Jon Bon Jovi's attempt?

It hasn't generated much buzz on microblogging network Weibo - yet - but initial reviews appear to be positive, with many moved by his attempt to sing in Mandarin.

The music video features several shots of the 53-year-old looking stumped as he ploughs through the song and practises his pronunciation. At one point, a woman who appears to be his Mandarin tutor gives him an encouraging thumbs-up.

"Bon Jovi's too hardworking, he's given us Chinese fans a nice Qixi surprise... you can see in the video that he's continually trying to get the lyrics right, it's quite sincere," noted popular Weibo blogger Eargod.

Other fans were more circumspect. Said user Zhufuaguai: "Even though it sounds horrible, it's still Bon Jovi - and that's enough for me."
It sounds like a pretty song, though I don't imagine it's easy for a Western singer to emulate, especially someone who doesn't speak Chinese.

The rest of the article is about the history of the song, the original singer that made it famous did so in Taiwan, where she was from. In the late 70's, when the Chinese Communists began to loosen up on restrictions on Music, the song became popular in Mainland China.

The article also mentions other Westerners who are singing or speaking in Chinese. Is it the beginning of a trend? See the whole article for embedded links, photos, translated lyrics and more.

For comparison, here is a video of the original performer, Teresa Teng, singing the song:


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