Hello and welcome to another edition of China Beat on China Radio International. This is Zhong Qiu. The Mando-pop singer and songwriter Yang Kun is famous for his melancholy ballads and his signature husky voice. His debut, Whatever, was a smash hit on the Chinese pop market in 2002 with sales of 400,000 copies. With this album, Yang Kun's music career took off and his distinctive mature voice has since touched millions of music lovers in China.
Mando-pop singer and songwriter Yang Kun, second from right, performs on stage. [File Photo: sina.com.cn]
During the 5 years following his first hit, Yang Kun continued to impress his audience with four quality albums and many of his songs became hits of the years. 2008 will be a year to mark another first for Yang Kun. On the 22nd of this month, this artist will give his first solo concert in Beijing as a highlight of his 5-year-journey with music. So with today's China Beat, we will talk with Yang Kun and find out more stories behind his touching melodies.
Whatever, which we are hearing now is the title track off the namesake album in 2002. It is this song that helped Yang Kun garner the honor of Best Newcomer at the 3rd Music Chart Awards and sent his name to fame.
"Whatever is very popular. But I still have some regrets about it. It could have been more refined. One reason is that my voice caters to listeners' feeling of aimlessness and sadness. Another reason is that the songs truthfully mirror the life of the younger generation, and they've struck a chord in their hearts."
However, before the warm responses arrived, Yang Kun had been waiting for 14 years, dropping off at different bars for chances to perform.
"It was a tough time. My emotions still churned whenever I recalled those days. I even thought of giving up. But my hesitation was often overthrown by occasional positive emotions. For example, a good concert or the music in the bars could all have an effect on me. They were the driving forces for me not to give up my music dreams."
(On That Day)
It was perseverance that helped Yang Kun survive and helped him to realize dreams on the stage. At the same time, the bitter sweet symphony of life became an important inspiration for Yang Kun's most memorable songs. On that Day is one of the life-inspired songs.
"My life experiences are imbued in my songs. With those past-time stories, I have a lot to share with my audience through my music and it's the essence that can talk to people's hearts. Like the song, On That Day, I believe many people had the same hurt feeling from love."
(On That Day)
The song we just heard is On That Day by Yang Kun. Colleted in the namesake album, On That Day was acclaimed as one of the Top Ten Hits of 2003; and it was also the theme song of one of the year's beat-selling movies, A World Without Thieves.
(The Moon Can Represent My Heart)
The Moon Can Represent My Heart is another hit off the album, On That Day. Referring the song's title to the classic The Moon Represents My Heart by Teresa Teng, Yang Kun presents to the listeners a crooning love ballad of his own trademark.
"I did have some set-up with this song, which, though, was only with the title. The melody and lyrics are totally Yang Kun-made. A little bit jazzy, this song is different from the heartrending songs I used to write. It is more like a man was whispering his deep affection to his beloved."
(The Moon Can Represent My Heart)
From his second album, Yang Kun started to try different ways to interpret his soulful love ballads. With his third album, 2008 released in 2005, Yang Kun impressed his audience with an overall new feeling as he spiced it up with richly-sourced music.
In the title song, which we are listening to, Yang Kun intertwined exciting dance beat with ethnic tune from the stretching land of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region where he originally came from.
"This song is introduced with the ethnic instrument of Ma-tou-qin and Mongolian vocal music, the Long Song. Because I was brought up on the stretching prairie in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the beautiful ethnic tune has touched me since I was very young. With this song, I wanted to pay homage to the land where I extended my dreams."
Last year, Yang Kun released his fourth album, The Wrangler. After 5 years of ups and downs in the entertainment industry; and signing up with a new record company, the singer and songwriter says he has finally found his new direction on his music journey.
"Actually, the title song is still mood-oriented. Literally, I wrote stories about nomads. They spent their whole lives traveling to find a land where they can call home. While between the lines I was truly writing about myself and most of us who suffered from the feeling of getting lost and home-missing. But this time, I've learnt to write a sad song with an upbeat rhythm. You know, that's life."
After 6 years of preparation, Yang Kun will stage his first solo concert on the 22nd of this month. Credited for his perseverance and hard working, Yang Kun hopes his efforts will be paid off.
"This is my first solo concert so it means a lot to me. The show is titled Ignite Emotions in April. I will perform both woeful love ballads and energetic rock songs in hope of sparking the audience's happy or sad emotions. I hope my audience will like the show."
At the concert, you will also enjoy performances by Yang Kun's friends, such as Na Ying, the mainland pop diva, and David Huang, a renowned artist from Hong Kong. Yang Kun says he owes his success to the support and inspirations his friends have brought him over the years. To complete today's China Beat, here we play another song by Yang Kun, I Miss You, My Friend. This is Zhong Qiu from Beijing. Bye for now.
(I Miss You, My Friend)