Facing the music

On the issue of copyright, China’s hottest male pop-rock duo of 2010 Xuriyanggang (旭日阳刚) have found themselves in hot water for copyright infringement. The pair’s rapid rise to fame culminated with a prized, yet obviously nervous gig on CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala.

SMOKIN' HOT: Wu Xu, one half of migrant worker music duo Xuriyanggang

Xuriyanggang couldn’t be further from the stereotype of Mandopop’s male stars with long-tinted hair, diamond-earrings and velvet vocals. Rather, they are migrant workers Wu Xu (无需) and Liu Gang (刘刚) – both most likely from China’s northeast given their accents.

They shot to fame in 2010 for their heart-wrenching rendition of Beijing singer Wang Feng’s (汪峰) pop ballad In Spring (春天里). Now, Wang Feng has (quite fairly) banned the duo for singing the song he penned. The irony of a Chinese singer getting upset over copyright infringement is not lost, yet no doubt Wang Feng is at least slightly bitter that Xuriyanggang achieved more critical acclaim than he did singing his own song – similar to when Aussie singer Shannon Noll catapulted to fame using Moving Pictures’ What About Me?

To borrow a Chinese idiom, Xuriyanggang’s version is baitingbuyan (百听不厌), or could be listened to a hundred times without tiring. It’s raw, emotion-charged stuff from two guys working far from home to support their families. The song opens with Liu Gang (a former soldier-turned-migrant worker) on guitar before crossing over to 44-year-old, cigarette-holding Wu Xu and his gravel-treked vocals. The simple setting of a guitar, microphones, a few Beijing Snowflake (雪花) beers inside a shoebox-sized dwelling gives some insight to what life is like for migrant workers.

In homage to the talented Wang Feng, here is his original version of the song. I’ll leave you to decide which one is better.

For those curious of the song, here are the lyrics imperfectly translated:

还记得许多年前的春天 Remember spring many years ago

那时的我还没剪去长发 When I didn’t cut my hair

没有信用卡没有她 No credit card, no girlfriend

没有24小时热水的家 No hot water at home 24 hours a day

可当初的我是那么快乐 虽然只有一把破木吉他 在街上

I was so happy, just busking with my crappy guitar

在桥下 在田野中 In the fields, under the bridge

唱着那无人问津的歌谣 Singing songs to no one in particular

如果有一天 我老无所依 (Chorus) If one day I’m an old man

请把我留在 在那时光里 Please keep me in your life

如果有一天 我悄然离去 If one day I’m not with you

请把我埋在 这春天里 Please remember me in spring

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