At the end of 2015, a strange pop hybrid was born in the form of a collaboration that came seemingly out of nowhere – A.G. Cook, head of the ultra-hip London label and collective PC Music, wrote and produced Chinese pop star Chris Lee’s double A-side single Real Love / Only You. It was the first time PC Music had collaborated with a pop star, let alone one from Asia. And although Chris Lee had a penchant for experimentation, working previously with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Shanghai’s Yuz Museum, PC Music was unlike anything she’d done before.
In recent years, PC Music has become a sensation in the underground electronic scene. With their saccharine plastic-wrapped pop melodies and beats from the corporate future, they’re something between pop music and parody. And Chris Lee? Best known for her androgyny, Lee rocketed to fame in 2005 as the unlikely tomboy winner of Super Girl, an immensely popular televised singing contest. She has since gone on to become a heavy-hitter in the Chinese music scene, releasing dozens of chart-topping singles and selling millions of album copies. She is a bona fide pop star. So what did it mean when these two crossed paths? Was PC Music evolving into actual pop, or was Chris Lee becoming subversive?
I’m not really sure. But we do get a moody electronic track to show for it, “Only You” — or 《混蛋，我想你》 (“Bastard, I miss you”) — a rarity in ballad-filled mainstream Chinese music. For Chris Lee fans, it’s the musical successor to her 2014 single “A Magical Encounter 1987.” And for PC Music fans, it’s the same squeaky-clean PC Music aesthetic, so clean you can hear a pin clatter on the floor. But it’s also been tamped down and stretched out into rippling synthesizer force fields, over which Lee’s voice repeats “I miss you” like a hypnotizing mantra.
Those behind the Great Firewall can watch the music video to Only You here.
Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly Radii feature that looks at Chinese songs spanning classical to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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