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Yaogun Yinyue: rethinking mainland Chinese rock ‘n’ roll


International discourse on Yaogun Yinyue (mainland Chinese rock music) has been coloured by the early identification of Chinese rock ‘n’ roll with the aborted student democracy movement of the late 1980s. This has led to a simplistic valourisation of Western representations of rock rebellion by the global mass media, characterised by a lack of awareness of changing social circumstances within the People's Republic of China over the past decade. Originally, Yaogun Yinyue did indeed share a generational root with student radicals who expressed frustration with the severely limited life choices in a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) controlled state. However, in response to the periodic political crackdowns during the post-Tiananmen massacre era, most current mainland rock musicians have consciously avoided rhetoric which might lead to unhealthy repercussions for their careers. ‘Empathetic’ Western rock critics may be disillusioned to learn that recently many Chinese rock musicians not only reject popular reifications of rock ‘n’ roll but also express vehemently anti-foreign sentiments (Barme 1996, p. 202). Historical Sino-Western antagonisms have combined with individual resentments of foreign record companies' exploitative practices to create genuine suspicion about the West as a cultural and economic hegemon. This article offers a social and historical analysis in an attempt to reframe the meanings of Chinese rock as cultural product.

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Popular Music
  • ISSN: 0261-1430
  • EISSN: 1474-0095
  • URL: /core/journals/popular-music
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