THE DARK SIDE OF HONG KONG NIGHT LIFE 1

It was interesting to read a recent interview in the SCMP with Angel Leung, below, former Hong Kong deejay-turned-politician-turned-music producer, lamenting the lack of new music, especially, songs that address the mood of today’s Hong Kong and the social consciousness of the city’s various student movements.

COULD HONG KONG 1

Yes, when it comes to Cantonese songs- anthemic songs with a tad more meaning than, “You broke my heart and hence, I am going to slit my wrists and sing about it on that big chorus that sounds like an Air Supply song”, Hong Kong is still to start The Long March forward with anything other than the music of Beyond, whereas when it comes to a musical anthem, it stops and starts with Cui Jian’s “I Have A Name”, which became the theme for solidarity and defiance during the the days of the Tiananmen Square stand-off.

COULD HONG KONG 2

Having worked as a deejay in the Eighties, Angel Leung must surely know that the major reason for the bland Cantonese shlock that is still recorded today had to do with heads of radio and television stations working in cahoots with the heads of music companies to feather their own nests by promoting artists- and songwriters- they managed and from whom they earned a fair whack through these performers’ concerts.

It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out who these artists were, and how this modus operandi still persists today.

COULD HONG KONG 3

As in that dark past, only certain artists are signed, only certain songwriters are used and deejays work in cahoots with music companies to promote the flavour of the day whereas a television station like TVB-Jade adds extra revenue to the “value” of an artist by having them win one of those faked out awards shows with fake shiny people.

COULD HONG KONG 4

Corruption was rife in the Hong Kong music industry starting in the Eighties where false local “music legends” were created, and who robbed the international music companies they were running whereas their underlings who learnt from these sultans of schwing and swindles, are, today, carrying on this “grand tradition”.

All the time, never a factor in the Hong Kong music industry was importance placed on the music.

Packaging ruled over any musical substance and apart from the excellent Beyond and creativity of LMF, it’s been Bobby Blue Blandness- everyone from the soft cock ballads of Jacky Cheung to Hins Cheung to the Babyface-induced copycat pseudo soul of an artist like Kahlil Fong plus the usual Hello Kitty doll muppets based on those gawdawful Twins.

lmf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWWgY828VnI

COULD HONG KONG 6

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebtlgEJvrlI

So, what about today with its DIY world and social media with music companies desperately looking for new ploys to make money out of a business on the download and the down low? Does this give new musicians with no Big Brother watching them greater independence?

COULD HONG KONG 7

Of course it does- BUT, this is Hong Kong and where we have had to deal with almost thirty years of being unable to build a musical heritage due to corruption- under the table deals, the manipulation of charts, falsifying sales figures to Head Office, money laundering, more money laundering, management of artists and which has seen even more money laundering.

COULD HONG KONG 8

Creating a vibrant new music scene has not been a priority despite the brave efforts of a few to create a local “indie” scene that hasn’t travelled further than the Hidden Agenda events in industrial buildings and the gigs at the Fringe Club attended mainly by the expat “indie” community.

Sure, some of these new bands and musicians have been very good. But then what?

As for local talent singing in Cantonese, apart from Killer Soap, who may or may not even be together anymore, and Rapper Gold Mountain, there has been nothing with any real musicianship.

COULD HONG KONG 9

COULD HONG KONG 10

Maybe, I was missing something, but the local acts seen over the past five years might have had the tatts, the hair and the rest of the gear, but their music simply didn’t smell like teen spirit.

Frankly, it looked, sounded and smelt of pretentiousness mixed with “errant” musicianship passed off as “energy”, and a hybrid of musical styles borrowed largely from bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam- and on the EMO side, whiny Coldplay. Plus, the bands were, well, old.

COULD HONG KONG 11

However, following the events of the past few weeks and brave, angry, students standing firm against a crumbling government and a Chief Executive reminiscent of many Hong Kong music executives of the past who crippled the music industry, perhaps, this will provide the inspiration and impetus to create a new and exciting music scene with an empty canvass and no past baggage.

COULD HONG KONG 12

Here’s hoping. The timing is perfect for Change- and not chump change- as Hong Kong is seeing a very different- and young- group of student leaders who didn’t need someone like Benny Tai, below, fighting their battles for them.

COULD HONG KONG 13

As political commentator Michael Chugani mentioned, “All the student leaders are smart. I have interviewed most of them. They are very different from when we were their age. They have a great passion and really believe in their cause.”

shum