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.

Advertisements

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!