Is it just me or does list season come earlier each year? While compiling my annual China's Best Albums list, which is due out next Monday, I naturally came across a couple lemons. Now it's time to make lemonade my friends, because today we start a new tradition. I present the first ever Worst Music of China list, and boy do we ever have a treat for you.
Now last night while I was attending a certain unnamed, British-owned magazine's editor's birthday party, some not so sound advice was bestowed upon me. Jake Newby said I should just put every Shanghai band on the new Worst Music list. Well fair enough Jake Newby, but that's just not my style.
Today's list is not about bands that are just getting their start and need to practice more or develop their own sound. We are talking about a special breed of musicians that are professionally on top of their game but just miss the mark, hard. Just like a car crash or an Auntie grabbing her shin in fake pain after falling off her scooter, we simply can't look away from these train-wreck artists. Go grab a bag of cuddle fish and settle in because we have a lot of crap to wade through.
Image Source: Artist's Facebook
Gemini are a Beijing band that have been kicking around since 2006. Where do I begin with Gemini? Well first off, they are self-described as "the first French-Chinese rock band in China". Really, guys? A French person never picked up a flipping guitar with a Chinese person before 2006? The act is fronted by two main members, French producer Gabryl and Chinese vocalist Suna, backed by a rotating cast of members for touring. The two met on the dating website Meetic, which I believe is the euro version of eHarmony. Classic.
Gemini tops my list of Worst Music of 2015 because they have that certain indescribable quality. It's all produced well, and it's obvious they put a lot of effort into their art. At first you even question if maybe you do like it. Just then that overwhelming wave of self-awareness envelopes your soul with all signs pointing too "nope, this is crap."
Gemini - "Solar System Kid"
Every Experimental, Noise, or Drone Band in China
Image Source: Wikipedia
Do you like masturbation? Would you pay 20rmb to watch an unwashed 30 year old dude masturbate for an hour on stage? Well if so, then experimental music is for you! 2015 is the year China exploded with new drone, noise, and art rock projects with a plethora of new artists and labels. Even artists like PK14 and Carsick Cars are going "experimental". For the most part these new labels put out their wares on cassette. Because what goes perfect with the shittiest "music" of all time? Putting it out on shittiest quality physical media format of all time. The cassette. In Shanghai we have Huashan Records and Bipolar Records. Beijing is the epicenter of noise masturbation with labels like the ever growing Nasty Wizard Recorings, O.G. noise makers Zoomin Nights, and the Taxee Tape boys 87fei87, just to name a few.
If you want to keep up on all things drone then take a daily visit to Beijing's premiere info outlet Pangbianr, run by Josh Feola a.k.a. Charm. Just by pure coincidence, I'm sharing a Charm song put out on Huashan Records over the summer. Enjoy the next 20 minutes.
Charm - "Talk Sick"
Luckily in the Mando-pop realm there is no shortage of crap. Riding the high of 2014's worldwide sensation "Xiao Pingguo (Little Apple)" song, the Chopstick Brothers followed up this year with an underwhelming new banger "Little Fruit". Way to dig deep, guys. I can just see the Chopstick Brothers sitting around the VIP room racking their brains on how to top "Little Apple" while sucking down twelve pack of sparkler bait Dom Pérignon. "Wait, I got it!" says one Chopstick Brother. "How about we put five pieces of fruit in the video instead of just one?!" Nailed it! My biggest problem with the two apple loving lads is they put shame to the 1960's pop group the Chopstick Sisters. You two don't have an ounce of the ability my beloved Chopstick Sisters had. Shame on you two sirs for not living up to the franchise, shame on you.
Chopstick Brotheres - "Little Fruit (2015)"
Chopstick Brothers - "Little Apple (2014)"
Image Source: FLY BNB Photography
File this track by Chengdu rapper Ty under "just plain ole positive uplifting messages for the kids." Check out the English subs, basically giving step by step instructions on how to up your game on getting lifted. Giving specific quantities on the subject then ending with a helpful tip of partying it up before you turn 18 and can go to jail. With rappers like Ty leading the way, I think we have a pretty bright future ahead of us in China. I don't throw around the word humanitarian often, but I think we got a Nobel Peace prize contender on our hands with this guy. Not to mention his beats are weak and the flow is ever wacker. What's good now Ty?
Ty - "Meds Addict"
Image Source: Artist's Douban
Boys, boys, boys, you're operating at an eleven on a scale of one to ten for shitty alt rock / nu metal. Who did China's largest rock / pop label choose to represent us in their first ever Seattle showcase just a couple months ago? None other than Mushroom Bunnies, lead by the Shanghai madman Xu Qi Fei who really pulls off that Brandon Lee's The Crow vibe to a T and hits those high notes like no one’s business. Alright, maybe if I was in the taxi alone on the way home from Perry's bar and this song came on Love Radio there is a slight chance I'd rock out to it. Otherwise, I'm going on record saying no, no, no, Mushroom Bunnies. No.
Mushroom Bunnies - "Lies of Swans"
Image Source: Artist's Douban
What Worst of Music list would be complete without a cheesy EDM wannabe? Again, there is no shortage to choose from in the middle kingdom, but I think my main man Villy Vonka is going to take the prize. His promotion crew said this banger "I Am Mine" that dropped earlier this year was two years in the making. Damn Vonka you spent two years on that piece of shit? Think about all you could have accomplished in two years. Villy Vonka could have finished a remedial course in restaurant management or watched every episode of Star Trek TNG, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise. But instead, we get "I Am Mine". I will say he looks like a nice enough kid and instead of promoting the KTV sex culture like most EDM / Hip Hop groups he prefers am internalized brooding struggle. But I got no love for you Vonka and you're on my list. Step up your game in 2016 and don't let me see you on here again.
Villy Vonka- "I Am Mine"
Stay tuned. Next week's Music Monday is the real deal: Best China Albums 2015. Despite the bag o' crap above, 2015 has been an amazing year for music in China.
This article is part of our 2015 In Rewind series. Check out the rest:
Shanghai's Favorite Eats & Drinks (Coming Soon)
Best & Worst Shows
Shanghai's Best & Worst Art
China's Best Albums
China's Worst Music