Ethnomusicology graduate student Shuo Yang’s article “Rocking the Tradition or Traditionalizing Rock?” A Music Performance on Chinese Reality Show China Star” has been published in Ethnomusicology Review. Yang explores the reactions to two performances of pop singer Tan Weiwei in which the star singer blends driving rock style with the traditional Huayin Laoqiang opera. The first performance took place on China Star and emphasized modern rock elements. The second performance was broadcast by the state-controlled CCTV as part of the Spring Festival Gala where the arrangement was altered to minimize rock influence and highlight Huayin Laoqiang. Yang traces the varied responses to both performances noting in particular that,
“The majority of online commenters appear to prefer the performance on China Star to the performance at SFG. As for the revised performance, most comments express that Tan and Huayin Laoqiang became the mouthpiece of the nation’s ideology and empty patriotism.”
In her article, Yang carefully examines the arguments for and against Weiwei’s fusion of popular and traditional music as well as the wariness of many of her fans toward the Chinese government’s use of her performance for propaganda purposes.
You can read Shuo Yang’s entire article, including video of both performances, here.