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Exhibit shows how pop bubbled up in China

2013-10-14 11:16:37

(China Daily)


Our Music Class consists of almost 1,000 exhibits about pop music's development in China over the past 40 years. Provided to China Daily

While middle-aged people walk nostalgically through the cassette players, yellowed posters and dog-eared notebooks with handwritten song lyrics, young fans scream in front of pictures of their new idols, snapping one photograph after another.

This is an exhibition about Chinese pop music going on at Life Hub@Anting, a new shopping mall in Shanghai's suburban Jiaiding district. Our Music Class consists of almost 1,000 exhibits arranged under seven subjects.

It is a retrospective show that tells about pop music's development in China over the past four decades, which coincides with the country's opening up and rapid economic takeoff, says the curator, Momo, who identifies himself with his ID on the Internet.

A series of lectures are scheduled in the show, which runs for a month. Music makers, critics and dedicated music fans, such as the curator himself, will give lectures and share their observations about China's pop music scene, especially those of Hong Kong and Taiwan, from where Chinese pop music originally stemmed.

Lee Shou-chuan from Taiwan was the first to meet with audiences, before the official launch of the show. The composer and music producer's career spans more than 40 years.

The 1980s was a "golden age" for Chinese pop music, he says. The economic development just started, and the time stimulated creative expressions. "People demanded good music and the market was exuberant," Lee says.

In the 1990s, music videos became popular and brought hit songs to the whole world. Then in the 2000s, the Internet - free downloads and piracy - brought the music industry from dawn to sunset. "Now music sales are no more than 5 percent of that in the golden age," he says.

The exhibition tells of a "Coke Bottle" incident that became a landmark in Chinese pop music development. In the 1970s, only Western music was heard in pubs in Taiwan. On one night in 1976, an artist and singer, Lee Shuang-tse, mounted the stage at a college concert, with a bottle of Coca-Cola in hand. He challenged the audience, asking "do we even have a song of our own?" Then he threw the bottle at them.

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