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Cries of Joy, Songs of SorrowChinese Pop Music and Its Cultural Connotations$
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Marc L. Moskowitz

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833695

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833695.001.0001

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Message in a Bottle

Message in a Bottle

Lyrical Laments and Emotional Expression in Mandopop

Chapter:
(p.52) Chapter 4 Message in a Bottle
Source:
Cries of Joy, Songs of Sorrow
Author(s):

Marc L. Moskowitz

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824833695.003.0004

This chapter explores the ubiquitous themes of loneliness and isolation in Taiwan's Mandopop songs. This, more than any other facet of the music, is what separates it from the PRC's musical genres, which have traditionally demanded a fanatically cheerful thematic intensity to celebrate the state. It is argued that Mandopop's melancholy can be seen as an attempt to deal with surprisingly serious issues. It provides a means for people in China and Taiwan to express loneliness, isolation, and anomie more honestly than everyday speech and culture allow. The people interviewed in Shanghai and Taipei believe that Mandopop's lonely lyrics point to a greater poetic sense and search for meaning than pop in the United States. Thus, rather than viewing the melancholy of Mandopop as revealing negative aspects of China or Taiwan, it may be more accurate to stress that Mandopop's lyrics are evidence of poetic creativity, of careful introspection, of emotional expression denied in everyday conversations, and of reasserting humanity into a seemingly uncaring world.

Keywords:   loneliness, isolation, sad songs, Mandopop, Mandarin Chinese pop music, melancholy

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