While rock is currently experiencing a revival all over this country, the spirit of revolution inherent in the first generation of Chinese alternative music is noticeably absent.
According to the AFP, this wave of new rockers are careful to avoid politics. Carsick Cars and their popular song “Zhongnanhai” is specifically mentioned. “Zhongnanhai” could be translated either into a brand of cigarettes or the seat of China’s communist government. Carsick Cars insist it’s about the smokes.
It’s a far cry from the rock scene in the 1980s. Cui Jian, known as the “father of Chinese rock,” wrote “Nothing to my Name,” the anthem for the Beijing student protests. When those went sour in 1989, he was banned from performing at major venues in the country. The ban was only lifted in 2000.
“Chinese musicians know that there are certain lines they can’t cross,” said Michael Pettis, owner of D-22 and producer of Carsick Cars. “All CDs, if they are going to be nationally distributed, have to be approved by censors.”
According to Shen Lihui, head of China’s biggest independent music label Modern Sky, the post-Tiananmen generation “is just not that interested in politics”.
“What he (Cui) said was what everyone wanted to say, so he was an icon. But now, if musicians sang this type of content, people wouldn’t be interested,” he said.
“People in the ’80s grew up in the 1970s, and they had a lot of restrictions, so politics were important for them. But now, young people just don’t have so many restrictions.”
So much for actually being punk, eh?