To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.about me
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Image my horror when I realised that 2 links from this blog to Sina.com.cn MusicBox were broken.(now fixed - Jolin -Bravo Lover and Jolin -Lets Move It ).Sina are now checking visitor's IP addresses and blocking users outside China (in this context Hong Kong is apparently not part of China!! ) All because they have recently gone to bed with the music industry and are finally starting to put their house in order. Whilst I wouldn't encourage illegal downloading and file sharing, it would be unfortunate if casual surfers like me (or you) were prevented for being introduced to Chinese (or indeed other) artistes over the web.
It's challenging enough if you don't speak or read chinese. A trick I use is to search Wikopedia for "Chinese Diva" or something similar to find artistes names (in chinese). You need to look at artistes profiles NB A lot of popular singers in china are from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea. I then paste the name eg ( 蔡依林 ) (Jolin Tsai - Taiwanese) into baidu making sure that the first (视频) radio button is selected . Baidu is "THE" Chinese search engine. Your browser needs to support chinese characters - if you are using IE7, select the drop down option from menu bar "view>encoding>Chinese Simplified (GB2312)" (works for me!) Beneath each video image on the baidu search results page is shown the site which is hosting the vdeo. There are also links to other videos by same artiste, other sites for same video etc.
The quality and bandwidth on some sites is better than others and some sites are very "aggressive" with popups and "scripts" etc, none of which I accept (I have set my browser to prompt me when sites try to sick something on me !) . China and Hong Kong are cited as major source of malware so common sense is advised like having appropriate browsers settings and up to date antivirus software etc (would you walk into a prison wing for lifers with you pants down and a kiss me quick sticker on your arse?). Notwithstanding this caution the vast and diverse selection of videos and music available makes exploring worthwhile.
For example in addition to videos showing established musicians there are amateur videos (like the one at start of this post), many from girls of an indeterminate age)who aspire to a career in the entertainment industries (as opposed to gymnastics - well we all had dreams and did silly things in the privacy of our own rooms!!): On the one hand we have dancers having fun expressing themselves (with varing degrees of competance and raunchiness); and on the other budding DJS and/or "covers". Karaoke is VERY popular in China as evidenced by the the "professional" mandopop singalong videos showing lyrics with "bouncing balls".
Another popular area of DIY videos are the spoof/joke videos. These range from short sketches to longer pieces parodying TV adverts, shows, films, news broadcasts etc. One of the most famous exampes is the parody of The Promise - The Blood Case of the Manitou Of course if you don't understand chinese and are not familiar with the original material the humour goes straight past you. Like going to a badly subtitled Stephen Chow Film where local cantonese speaking audience appears to laugh without reason !! These videos fall into a grey area as far as the chinese censors are concerned due to their subversive and seditious nature. It's only a small step to lampooning high officials or national heros (political satire is very threatening potentially socially disruptive and alive and well in China!!)
I also find interesting, the non chinese clips which chinese netizens have deemed worthy of sharing: essentially me watching them watching us (in so far as I am one of the "Gwaillos") You see your "community" from an outsiders perspective - frequently to it's detriment and also you get an insight into why foreigners (the Chinese) have misconceptions and prejudices about "us" It must be remembered that sometimes chinese netizen make points about china by using foreigners being dipsticks where the same video showing chinese would fall foul of the censor.
Additionally there is the vast reservoir of local chinese (and western) TV programs (snippets and full episodes): news items, Contempary soaps, sitcoms and lots of period/costume dramas (including Korean) as well as Manga (Japanese adult cartoons - not to be confused with Hentai - seperate post will follow)
If you open video from baida and go to a sites home page there is normally a menu bar or similar at the top. if you mouse over the chinese characters you will see an abbreviated "English" URL displayed in your browser status bar at bottom of page (assuming your status bar is enabled). Look for prefixes that indicate music or music video . These links typically open "busy" screens with hyperlinked artists and track titles. Look for lists with numbers and/or ranking .Different pages and lists relate to different genres, types of artist etc and the numbers/rankings indicate popularity of tracks today/this week/etc. Frankly the nuances are beyong me . I click the links like a man dipping into a "lucky bag" The problem is that if I hear/see something I want to revisit to I frequently can't find it again.Like meeting someone you would like to date but being unable to remember their phone number. I have added some links to "stuff" which may be viewed from the "others" tab below. The selection I recognise has a certain bias, but it is (in the strict sense ) totally politically correct!!