Of my many plebian pleasures karaoke must surely rank among the most intense. On Sunday at Kaka’s house we bawled happily for hours. While his collection obviously couldn’t match a proper karaoke lounge’s for sheer quantity, I was happy enough with Downtown, a Sounds Of Silence duet with Shoop and a couple of lines of Yellow Bird attempting a really dodgy Carribbean accent.
Then we switched to Chinese and the fun really started. The list of Chinese songs I can claim even vague familiarity with is miniscule. In fact, the list of Chinese words I can claim vague familiarity with is almost as miniscule, and the fact that they use fan2 ti3 zi4 (old-style written Chinese, a million times more complicated) for karaoke lyrics doesn’t help either. But I let none of this stop me.
In secondary school there was a Chinese inter-class singing competition, and I got involved in my class item because the chosen song featured a violin interlude, which I was to be playing. In the process I got to know the song fairly well, and till today it retains its sentimental value for me (we won the competition). So I was ecstatic when Shoop found Zhi Ji on one of the laser discs, and we decided we’d sing it. My aforementioned difficulties with the Chinese language meant that most of my participation in the singing ended up like “xi huan ni de ren, drrrrmrmmrrrrrrraaargh CHENG KEN! hrrrrwrrruang de xiao RONG, mmmmmmrrrrrrgnnnnnnn EN!”
That was the song I knew best. Later we found Min Tian Wo Yao Jia Gai Ni Le (I’ll Be Marrying You Tomorrow), where my knowledge of the song ended at the very words Min Tian Wo Yao Jia Gai Ni Le, so I sang that line extra loudly to make up for my other inadequacies.
I love Chinese karaoke.
[Related question: Can anyone in the know tell me who sang Zhi Ji? I think it’s from the early 90s. I’m obviously hard-pressed to give any complete lyrical lines, but I think one, at the end of the chorus, is “dang wo yong you ni, wo de xin zai ye bu xia xue.”]
[Off the top of my head, here’s The Complete List of Chinese Songs Michelle Kind Of Knows, translated to the best of my abilities (in addition to those mentioned above):
- Wo Shi Nian Qing De Wei Guo Jun (I Am A Young Soldier-Protector Of Our Nation!)
- Jin Ye Ni Hui Bu Hui Lai? (Tonight Will You Come Or Not Come?)
- Shi Shang Zhi You Ma Ma Hao (In The World There Is None So Good As Mummy)
- Ai Xiang Shui (???)
- Ai Bu Pa (???)
- Nan Ren Bu Gai Rang Nu Ren Liu Lei (Men Shouldn’t Make Women Cry)
- Something I can’t remember the Chinese name of, but I think it was called Cupid Love in English
- Probably one or two Teresa Teng classics
That’s pretty much it.]