China: “Give us your tired and poor pop stars, your cooled off celebs, yearning to have a hit…anywhere.”

In the movie Singles, the character played by Matt Dillon (who is, thanks to Entourage, quickly becoming known as the less famous Dillon brother…how’s that for irony?) justifies his music career by telling all and sundry that his band is “like huge…in Belgium.” It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Cheap Trick made a career out of “playing the Budokan” and nobody needs to be reminded of The Hoffmeister’s hypnotic magic when he busts out the German.

Avril Lavigne, the quirky and spunky producer-created pop sensation, has reached a mid-career crisis at the tender age of 22. Her ‘tweener fans have grown up and started seeing other people and Avril is just bummed as all get out. What’s a Canadian to do? Why…follow the trail of bad music across the Pacific. When I first came to China several years ago, I was shocked by the number of people who asked me if I liked the Carpenters. I was even more shocked when people kept asking me if they would be releasing new music. (Ummmmm, no….)

From Andrew Leonard’s fabulous How the World Works blog at, comes news that Avril has recorded a version of her song “Girlfriend” that interpolates a Mandarin chorus with English verses. It’s obviously a Canadian singing (and the computer ‘enhancement’ of Avril’s voice is distracting) but the choruses in Chinese are fairly clear and no less inane than the English verses.

Avril has done this before in other languages. Why the big news? Because Avril is like, omigod, huge in Asia. Andrew Leonard quotes her manager, Terry McBride as saying the punk-pop-poser princess is more popular in China than anywhere else. “Her consumption is greater in Asia than what it is in all of the Western Hemisphere combined. And some of those cities outweigh some of the biggest countries as far as the demand of consumption.”

The Carpenters. Kenny G. 1,542 versions of “Country Roads.” And now…Avril Lavigne.

Tan Dun is on line 1, and he is NOT happy.

The Discussion: 11 Comments

Kenny G Live 2007 3ÔÂ31ÈÕ 8pm ±±¾©
(800) 810 3721

March 22, 2007 @ 11:49 am | Comment

A weak attempt to copy the appeal of Shakirah and my hottie babe, Christine Aguillera, who are both very talented and very bilingual.

March 22, 2007 @ 2:22 pm | Comment

I see that Robin Gibb is coming back for a return concert in Shanghai.

When I saw the big poster in the subway, I had to stop and think “one of the Bee-Gee’s is … still on the road?”

Yes, at least in China! :-0

March 22, 2007 @ 3:01 pm | Comment

How could you forget to mention “Hotel California” in this post? 😉

When I first got here, students were learning to sing that song in English corners while totally missing the point of the song.

March 22, 2007 @ 3:34 pm | Comment

Arg … Hasselhof. Will it never stop?

March 22, 2007 @ 5:00 pm | Comment

LOL. Hey, I went to see Robin Gibb in TPI a couple of years ago. My kids really enjoyed it.

Richard, you might want to blog on this “debate” at CFR over the China threat between two conservatives…


March 22, 2007 @ 6:19 pm | Comment

I wonder if the version streamed to millions of Chinese mobiles (see the Salon article) will include the words “motherf***in’ princess” heard on the YouTube video.

March 22, 2007 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

Argh! Now the song is stuck in my head!

P.S. As a Canadian (well, half), I apologize on behalf of my country for inflicting Avril on the unsuspecting world.

March 23, 2007 @ 12:15 am | Comment

It’s true! I’ve had quite a few students who tell me they want to look like that girl with the big socks and the name they can’t pronounce.

March 23, 2007 @ 12:43 am | Comment

I’m a proud but still-scarred survivor of the late-1990s Titanic “My Heart Will Go on” craze in the PRC. Celine Dion: another act of tasteless musical aggression by Canada that nearly cancels out the good karma earned by Bruce Cockburn, Neil Young and Robbie Robertson!

March 23, 2007 @ 5:54 am | Comment

Don’t forget Gordon Lightfoot and Leonard Cohen! Hopefully they are enough to cancel out Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado…

…well, maybe not.

March 24, 2007 @ 12:08 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.