Sunday, May 2, 2010

Make a Wish - The Sound of Heartbeat

The heavily promoted and long awaited 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China, finally opened its doors to the public this weekend. The exhibition, showcasing nations and cultures, will continue for the next six months. I never really followed this event except when I visited the Shanghai Urban Panning Exhibition Center in 2006. Needless to say, there was quite some pomp and circumstance on this event throughout the displays.

Recently I came across the Taiwan Pavilion which somewhat shocked me. The Kuomintang's Ma Ying-jeou was voted in as President over two years ago, and that's nearly as far back as the last time I followed Taiwanese political and cross-straight relations news. I know the relationship between Taiwan and China has been steadily improving because of the new economic cooperation policies of the Taiwanese President, but I was still a bit surprised that there would be a Taiwan Pavilion at the event that China is supposed to use as a platform to declare that it is now a bona fide world super power.

Looking at the venue map, I think the placement is a bit strange. Basically you have the hilariously big China Pavilion surrounded by much smaller sites for Hong Kong, Macau and... Taiwan. Now, the political status of Taiwan is exceedingly different to that of Hong Kong and Macau. The two former colonies were reclaimed by China after their "lease" ran out in the late 90s and early 2000s. The island nation of Taiwan is, well, a sovereign nation with a government elected by the people (key operative notion here). But that's not too important.

No, even the fantastic 4-dimensional technology, and one of the world's biggest LED displays is not important enough compared to "it". Just for your information, the 4D experience is quite spectacular. Basically you are positioned inside a large spherical chamber where tiny LED projectors project CGI image all around you. I mean all around you, in the surrounding sphere. Along with the images you have true 4D surround sound, meaning the sound can come from every single direction possible. But it's also not important here.

What grabbed my attention really forcefully was a theme song that was launched together with the opening of the Taiwan Pavilion. This is the song that will represent the image the nation would like to share with the world and it would be played at the venue throughout the next six months. The singer is the very popular "mini-Diva" (as they call her in Taiwan) Jolin Tsai (蔡依林), written by popular Taiwanese songwriter 方文山.

Unfortunately, I have never been a big fan of the new-age popular music songwriters and artists. My liking of (Taiwanese) Mandropop seems to have stopped just after the turn of the millennium. Granted, my perception on Jolin Tsai changed dramatically after seeing her on the TV show of the "Local King (本土天王)" of Taiwanese entertainment Jack Wu (吳宗憲). My abiding memory is that she was seriously unwell, some kind of eye infection, yet she persisted to stay on the show which involved going all around town to find objects with certain wording connections. That show of real hardcore Far East Asian work ethic made me see her differently.

Before, I saw her as some young pop artist with not much in terms of talent. She was vaguely pretty, but she was also not very refined. After watching that show some years back, I have completely fallen head over heals for her. To me now she is extremely pretty, with a great singing voice and some pretty fun songs. I still do not like her way of singing which always sounds like she is trying to imitate a westerner singing in Chinese, with a funny westerner's accent. But still, this is also not important.

The really important thing here is the song. The way the song was sung - with a gentle, shy, and yet emotionally charged way. The way the song was written - with very visually vivid imagery of all that's good about Taiwan, but for most of the time accompanied only by a simple brightly sounding piano. The meanings coming from the song - which directly reminds me of my birthplace, and promotes love and peace in a very heartfelt and honest way (very far removed, thankfully, from Hippie-love). Even the rap, in Mandarin Chinese, is modern yet somehow perfectly fitting the setting.

I don't think I've ever listened to a song for the first time and burst into tears of emotion (more joy and reminiscence than anything else). Music for me is what I attach my own meaning, memories and emotions to. So they normally mean something only after time. But this song, titled "The Sound of Taiwan's Heartbeat" (台灣心跳聲) tugs at every fiber of my emotive nerves and conjures up beautiful sceneries, images, smells, tastes...

It's just simply fantastic. Really... Amazing.

Thank you, thank you and thank you to all involved in the making of this great song. Forget all the politics for once, and let's live on the fragile planet as one, one Human Race. I leave this post today with some lyrics from the song (roughly translated by me)
少一點傷痕 (a little less hurt/injuries) 多一點的掌聲 (a little more applause)
少一點戰爭 (a little less war) 多一點的單純 (a little more purity/innocence)
少一點仇恨 (a little less hatred) 多一點的我們 (a little more of "us")
少一點寒冷 (a little less coldness) 多一點的溫存 (a little more warmth)

Official Music Video of 台灣心跳聲

Image Source: Krypton Zone (c) 2010 Entertainment, 聯合新聞網, YouTube

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