好妹妹乐队:《冬》 (Hao MeiMei Band: “Winter”)

A little colder
A winter’s day of dancing snowflakes
That day I passed your door
That road we wandered together

[A]
A little more distant
Youth’s hazy season
Your smile materializes in the wind
Drowning my eyes as white snow does

[CHORUS part 1]
How many years has it been?
Flowers fall, people scatter, the two separate
I want to ask whether or not inside the white clouds
there are raindrops that become likenesses of you

[CHORUS part 2]
The moon falls, the crow calls, frost fills the sky
What were once blue seas are now mulberry fields*
Spring goes and autumn comes once more
Will you miss the me that once was?

Lalala…

[A] [CHORUS part 1] [CHORUS part 2]

Spring goes and autumn comes once more
Will you miss the me that once was?



Notes:

*”Blue seas turn into mulberry fields” is an idiom for “great transformations in the world.” I decided to keep the literal meanings since they do break up the idiom, and to keep the “what once was/were” phrase consistent with the last line.

Melancholy song that follows the ebb and flow of season cycles…

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好妹妹乐队:《一个人的北京》 (Hao MeiMei Band: “Lonely Beijing”)

How long has it been since you’ve seen a starry sky?
The city night’s artificial lights have shaded your eyes
Even weekend movies have become boring
Exhausting days have too many troubles

[A]
How long has it been since you’ve traveled by yourself?
Accustomed to returning to a cold home after work
This thing called love, you have no more courage for it
The more moving the love songs, the more skeptical you become

[CHORUS part 1]
Many people come and go, meeting and parting over and over
Others get drunk and weep in lonely Beijing
Perhaps I’ve succeeded in becoming forgetful, slowly growing old
Can I remember just a fragment of a memory?

[CHORUS part 2]
Many people come and go, meeting and parting over and over
Others hastily escape this lonely Beijing
Perhaps one day we’ll leave this place together
Leave this place in clear, bright weather

[A] [CHORUS part 1] [CHORUS part 2] [CHORUS part 2]



Notes:

The title (and any time it appears in the chorus) 一个人的北京 can also be interpreted as “One Person’s Beijing,” or even “One-Man Beijing” (as in, Beijing has one person in it.)

Big thanks to Jessica, both for introducing this beautiful and heart-breaking song to me, and also for all her help translating! These lyrics were a little more straightforward, but there were still some phrases that threw me a bit.

王力宏:《盖世英雄》 (Wang Leehom: “Heroes of Earth”)

Yo come on, come on
Everybody say it together: the unrivaled heroes are here
Homeboy Production, Leehom, Xiangyu*, my homeboy Jin

CHORUS
Itching to see my future, accepting anything
The unrivaled heroes are really here
Itching to see my future, expecting anything
The unrivaled heroes stand onstage (the world’s the stage)

I left with four buddies, buddy-plated chrome rims 24 inches**
Tonight my goal is clear: to bring chinked-out to the world

Mix Jin with traditional opera, enter hip-hop into a new style
Only with new breakthroughs, new song styles can you have new unrivaled heroes
Turn up the radio all the way, the sounds are opera once again
The ring of prose is trendy once again, to imitate him is not easy
His singing is one of a kind, this art is of the top ranks
Hoping to help all the ethnic Chinese of the world sing out everyone’s deepest feelings

OPERA
Aggressive, arrogant plains
The king raises the fire signal
Strength draws out the mountains, rivers, and heavens
Great power, triumphant attack

[CHORUS]

(-All yours, baby
-I’m here, let’s go)

RAP
Yo it’s Jin and Leehom
It feels good to be home
I got the skills to be known
So I’ma chill on my throne
Yes I keeps it blazing
From Shanghai out to Beijing
Stop in Taiwan back to Hong Kong
Where they stay doing a thing
This is something special
My culture’s so contagious
They wanna know about us
We been around for ages
A couple thousand years
A bunch of pioneers
Just artists and scholars making noise it was loud and clear
Hey yo, the future’s here
The revolution’s near
Jin got the solution for the pollution in your ear
Switch it up:

No need to ask
You must agree
Being a hero
Isn’t easy

But yo, you ain’t gotta take it from me
Just listen close to Master Li

[OPERA]

The unrivaled heroes are here, the world’s the stage
The unrivaled heroes are here


 


 

Notes:

Wow. WOW. Where do I even start? So much gold in this song. Okay, okay, I’ll start with the formatting key to the lyrics:

Normal: Mandarin Chinese
Italicized: English
Bold: Cantonese

This song features three singers: Wang Leehom, rapper Jin, and Kunqu opera singer Li Yan (according to Wikipedia.) Wang Leehom sings in Mandarin, Jin raps in English and Cantonese, and Li Yan sings in traditional Kunqu opera style.

*Xiangyu is the name of a warlord in 200BC. I’m guessing that he is the character that Li Yan plays in a (fictitious?) opera.

**I have absolutely NO IDEA what this line was trying to say. The original line was “儿们镀铬轮框24吋”… please let me know if you can provide a clearer explanation.

Now, for my absolute favorite part of the song… Take a look at the opera lyrics, even if you can’t read Chinese:

霸气傲中原
王者扬烽烟
力拔山河天
宏威征凯旋

It’s no accident that the lines are the same length, Chinese poetry is always very calculated in that sense. But that’s not the mind-blowing thing here… Take a look at Wang Leehom’s name in Chinese: 王力宏

… See it?

The first words of the last three lines of the opera lyrics make up Wang Leehom’s name. By my interpretation, that’s analogous to a rapper rapping his name into a song, something we hear pretty often today. If you’re into classical music, you can even liken it to Shostakovich’s DSCH motif (and Bach had one too!) That Wang Leehom, he really delivered when he pledged a fusion of traditional and popular Chinese music.

王力宏:《流泪手心》 (Wang Leehom: “Crying Palms”)

Clouds float in the sky,
waves flow in the sea,
this world has too many unattainable dreams.
You stand in the wind,
you are independent,
life has too much contagious pain.*

CHORUS
When you leave, don’t linger in my palm
I hear the sound of love being silently crushed.
You don’t understand that this heart of mine you reject
stops crying out as you loosen your grip.
I try to smile, try to embrace [you] every second…
I don’t want to look at your closed eyes,
fearing that in the end they’ll become tears spilling out of palms.

The promise you made…
How could I not let go of you
when you truthfully recount how vast his love is?
This is my hand,
it led you through tough times.
This endless road shouldn’t lead to loneliness.

CHORUS



Notes:

*Literally, “impossible not to divide” or “not indivisible”… I had to re-word this phrase to make it less awkward.

I’m surprised I couldn’t find an English translation of these lyrics online!

One of my favorite lines couldn’t translate with the same meaning into English: “我听见爱被悄悄捏碎的声音“ (which I’ve translated to “I hear the sound of love being silently crushed.”) 捏碎 probably means something more like “pulverized,” but I really couldn’t find an equivalent that would fit well in these lyrics.

Also, some of those last lines killed me. “This is my hand” was pretty clear when I first heard it, but when I pieced together the following line, my heart broke a little </3

王力宏: 《花田错》 (Wang Leehom: “Mistake in the Flower Fields”)

It’s so late at night; why is the paper window still lit?
It’s not your candlelight burning the late night as you wait for me,*
but a chance encounter with that Dream of the Red Chamber.
My entire landscape fades as if washed out by floods
My cup holds scenes of the devil, I forget who I am
Mood like night, cool as water
Clutching the butterfly chalice and flying alone
I won’t return until I’m drunk

CHORUS
Made a mistake in the flower fields
Agreed to forget before daybreak**
Embrace became torment
Making the mistake was a senseless as indulging in delusion
Please forgive the burden of my passion

Drunk, how’d I get drunk? Beauty; it’s because of your beauty
Love, a hurried glance that’s only for show
Swirl, see the thick snow swirl, but lost sight of
the greenery covered by white snow
At the time, the only condition for me to possess you was nothing– I’m drunk again
The amber moon sheds tears of the frost
I’ll remember this passage of time

CHORUS

My entire landscape faded
My passionate burden, please excuse me for it
It wasn’t a candle lit for me in the late night*
In that flower field I made a mistake


Music Video with English subs (translation not mine):


Notes:

*Several other translations have interpreted the sentence as “It’s not the late night, it’s you waiting for me with a candle”, but I read it as the opposite… Let me know if you can provide a correct explanation.

**Also not sure how to interpret this line– I had to decide between “Agreed to forget before daybreak” or “agreed, but forgot before daybreak.”

Dream of the Red Chamber refers to a famous Chinese work (Wikipedia article). Apparently this song also shares a title with another Chinese work; in the description of this YouTube video, there is a link to an interesting interpretation of the song.

I really picked one of the more bizarre ones to start with, but I’ll always take feedback!