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China with a Cut

China with a Cut: Globalisation, Urban Youth and Popular Music

Jeroen de Kloet
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    China with a Cut
    Book Description:

    In the wake of intense globalisation and commercialisation in the 1990s, China saw the emergence of a vibrant popular culture. Drawing on sixteen years of research, Jeroen de Kloet explores the popular music industry in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, providing a fascinating history of its emergence and extensive audience analysis, while also exploring the effect of censorship on the music scene in China. China with a Cut pays particular attention to the dakou culture: so named after a cut nicked into the edge to render them unsellable, these illegally imported Western CDs still play most of the tracks. They also played a crucial role in the emergence of the new music and youth culture. De Kloet's impressive study demonstrates how the young Chinese cope with the rapid economic and social changes in a period of intense globalisation, and offers a unique insight into the socio-cultural and political transformations of a rising global power.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1114-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-12)
  5. Note on Romanisation and Publication History
    (pp. 13-14)
  6. Introduction: Global Longings with a Cut
    (pp. 15-36)

    Much has changed, I realised, when I attended the Modern Sky music festival in October 2008 in Haidian Park in West Beijing. The crowds that were allowed to gather in a public park, the wide array of music genres ranging from death metal to urban folk, the lyrics now often sung in English, the trendy youth from the 80s generation, all turned the festival into a profoundly cosmopolitan experience. An experience simultaneously saturated with articulations of Chineseness, judging from the Chinese flags people carried with them or painted on their faces. For three days, old stars from the early 1990s...

  7. 1 Hard Scenes
    (pp. 37-74)

    The term subculture was coined in the 1940s and has since been used to describe and analyze all kinds of social groups (punks, football hooligans, homosexuals). The Birmingham Centre of Cultural Studies set the agenda in the 1970s with two major publications:Resistance Through Rituals(Hall & Jefferson 1976) and Hebdige’sSubculture, The Meaning of Style(1979). Whereas the former predominantly uses class as the key to discovering subcultural meanings, the latter uses style and race as their organising principles. Hebdige unravels different youth styles, which according to him are ‘pregnant with significance. (…) As such, they are gestures, movements towards...

  8. 2 Hyphenated Scenes
    (pp. 75-102)

    The problem with juxtaposing the hard with the soft, West and East, North and South, authentic and fake, local and global, and Han Chinese to the ethnic minority, is that one freezes multiple realities and modernities into a rigid binary framework (Lau 2003). The scenes described in the previous chapter are all involved in tactics of localisation, at times critiquing Chinese culture, at other moments celebrating it. The hardness of the sounds seems to relate to the eagerness to localise. These tactics are played out in a cultural field whose aesthetics are inherently cosmopolitan (Regev 2007a, 2007b), which necessarily renders...

  9. 3 Subaltern Sounds
    (pp. 103-138)

    Some voices are remarkably absent from the arguably fragmented world of rock in China. All the bands described in the previous chapters are located in Beijing; some of the singers moved from their hometown to the capital of rock to pursue their career in music. Releases from places outside Beijing are relatively rare; bands from, for instance, Shanghai are generally not taken seriously by the rock scenes in Beijing. Female voices are also rather scarce in Chinese rock, although their number has increased over time. Rock’s aesthetics caters primarily to male identifications, so it seems, leaving little room for women...

  10. 4 Musical Taste and Technologies of the Self
    (pp. 139-166)

    The words of Din Qing in a letter to the band Heaven attest to the power of music; she turns to the band in search of alternative values and ideas about life, different from the ones she receives at school and, most likely, at home. It shows how music is integrated into the fabric of everyday life, simultaneously pointing at the agency of the listener – who, after all, uses music in her search for values – as well as the structural power of the sound – as she believes that music will provide her with the answers she is...

  11. 5 Producing, Localising and Silencing Sounds
    (pp. 167-192)

    In this song, singer Wang Feng from the band Baojiajie 43 expresses a global concern that assumes commercialisation to be harmful to creativity. The artist collapses along with the world when thrown into the money-blender called society. This assumption is often accompanied by nostalgia for the good old days, when everything was pure, wonderful, and authentic. All that is considered authentic melts into the thin air of commercialism. Money corrupts the true rock spirit. The early rock bands of China represent the real rock spirit; their pure and authentic voices are not yet disturbed by the cruel forces of a...

  12. Conclusion: Paradoxical Performances
    (pp. 193-202)

    The rock culture in China does not exist, as such. Rock is not dead; as a genre, it is falling apart into separate scenes that are supposedly different, temporarily stable, and – at the same time – held together by the same beliefs in rock. Rock is not dead, given the sustaining power of the rock mythology. It is this mythology which produces the crucial, spatially and ideologically inscribed divide between rock from Beijing and pop from predominantly Taiwan and Hong Kong. Whether it is folk, underground music, or pop-punk, rock musicians seem to agree on one thing: they are...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 203-216)
  14. Chinese Glossary
    (pp. 217-222)
  15. Appendix I Interviews
    (pp. 223-228)
  16. Appendix II Factor Analysis of Singers
    (pp. 229-229)
  17. Appendix III Popularity of Singers and Bands
    (pp. 230-230)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 231-243)
  19. Index
    (pp. 244-255)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 256-256)