Old Chinese song becomes an international meme
By Li Qing  ·  2020-06-27  ·   Source: Web Exclusive

Fei Yu-ching attended the 2017 Dragon TV Spring Festival Gala in Shanghai (CHINA DAILY)

A Chinese song titled Yi Jian Mei, or A Spray of Plum Blossoms, entered the Viral 500 of Spotify, an overseas mainstream music platform indicating popularity on social media platforms, on June 15. The music video of the song released in 2016 on YouTube has been watched for 1.65 million times.

The song, sung by Chinese singer Fei Yu-ching, was released 37 years ago. It was part of the soundtrack for a hit TV drama. It has become a classic pop song among the middle-aged people.

The popularity of the song began with a hit TikTok video in January, in which a Chinese man named Zhang Aiqin performed the song twirling in the snow. His unique appearance with an egg-like head caught the eye of TikTok users.

It went viral with edits on Instagram in March and gained popularity in the West. Foreign viewers regard Zhang as the Chinese version of Humpty-dumpty in DreamWorks’ animation Shrek or Dr. Eggman, a fictional character of Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog series. By June 16, the number of TikTok videos related to the song had exceeded 20,000.

The lyric, “Xue Hua Piao Piao, Bei Feng Xiao Xiao,” which literally means “the snow falls and the northern wind blows,” has developed into an international meme. Those who could only say Xiexie (thank you) or Nihao (hello) in Chinese have shown great enthusiasm for learning the Chinese sentence.

According to Urban Dictionary, an online dictionary for slang words and phrases, the lyric, “Xue Hua Piao Piao, Bei Feng Xiao Xiao,” is an ambiguous expression that can mean anything in a sentence. Generally, it is being used to illustrate a situation that becomes worse than ever and cannot be turned around. For instance, Bruh Bruh, a netizen, wrote, “My parents [are] talking about getting a divorce. Me in my room: Xue Hua Piao Piao, Bei Feng Xiao Xiao.”

Many foreigners have posted their covered songs on TikTok and Twitter. Different from the original song, the current version has been adapted to music style, including hip-hop.

Another popular activity related to the song is to ask parents to read out the written lyrics. Interestingly, most parents can sing this melody directly as part of their memory of the 1980s. This guy [Fei] was my mum’s idol back in her time, a Youtuber named Dinnie said. “It was hilarious how this was taking over my TikTok when my mum used to sing it to me when I was a kid.”

Launching his music career in 1973, Fei announced to retire in 2019 after releasing over 100 albums. “You will never hear the sound of breathing in his song. His voice and ability are perfect,” YouTube user Cilla Qiu wrote.

Through his agency, Fei told the public that he had already learned about the overseas popularity of Yi Jian Mei and felt happy and surprised.

Although the song and lyrics became a funny meme on the Internet, some still think that this is an unexpected opportunity for foreigners to understand Chinese music and culture. Some foreign web users say that they felt inner peace and the beauty of Mandarin listening to the song.

“Social media builds a platform fostering cultural exchanges in the international community, putting aside different backgrounds and gaps of languages,” a Weibo user named Pang Zai Shu Sheng said.

Copyedited by Madhusudan Chaubey

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