Jonathan Campbell, who literally wrote the book on Chinese rock 'n' roll, stopped by Asia Society Studios in New York late last year to answer a few questions. One of them was about Psy, the ubiquitous Korean rapper who will soon take on the Super Bowl. Could China produce a similar global phenomenon? If yes, what kind of artist would it be?
"I do think, as horrible as it may sound to say, Psy gives hope to yaogun (rock 'n' roll)," said Campbell, whose book Red Rock came out in 2011. "Only in the way that, it goes to show that, music is about music — it's not about language. When people tell me the reason that yaogun can't be popular in the West, because it's not in English, I think of how I used to sing along to 'La Bamba,' and it didn't really matter to me."
Campbell said that if Chinese rock 'n' roll were to take off globally, he hopes it would be in "a more serious way" than just "a crazy video with a silly dance." Watch the video above to learn who Campbell thinks might be the right person to carry the yaogun torch to global notoriety.
Campbell, who we interviewed earlier last year via email, also talked to us about about rock 'n' roll's role as a "mirror" on the massive changes China has experienced over the past few decades, and the politicalness (or apoliticalness) of the music currently being produced there:
Finally, we leave you with a few clips from some of the artists Campbell mentioned in the interview: Cui Jian ("yaogunner No. 1"), Lonely China Day, and P.K. 14.
Cui Jian - "Nothing to My Name"
Lonely China Day - "One"
P.K. 14 - "Some Surprises Happen Too Soon"
What Chinese music do you think will attract global attention? Tell us in a comment.