Rock and Roll is Dead! Viva Yaogun!

So Bob Geldoff, he of Band/Live Aid, Boomtown Rats, etc fame, recently told MOJO that “the rock and roll age is dead. Elvis won. Little Richard won.” (a big xiexie to Far Out Distant Sounds for the tip)

The good news? China. Of course.

Because what Geldoff goes on to say is:

“Maybe there will be a new rock’n’roll invented by the Chinese to let those 800 million in extreme poverty into ‘the Chinese dream’,” he continues. “When you have an autocratic, authoritarian regime that locks up anyone who’s got an alternative dream, it’s ripe for rock’n’roll. But will it be as we know it, or will it be the blanded-out X-Factorisation? I don’t know.”

Readers of this blog, or Red Rock, or both, know that there is a new rock ‘n’ roll invented by the Chinese (almost thirty years ago), and it’s called yaogun. And that it’s created a space for an alternative dream—for some. It is, in a way, “as we know it,” but it’s also, well, not so much. Like its Western counterpart, it, too, has been X-Factorized, via, for example, the Voice China (which you may have read a bit about here). But Geldoff might certainly be impressed with what he’d find, so if someone could pass along the news, that’d be great.

yuan1Geldoff is not the only rocker looking eastward. Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, too, has seen the future. In advance of his August show in Hong Kong he told the South China Morning Post that China was where it was at. “Billy Corgan: China is the future of rock music,” screamed the headline. Global artists, Corgan said, have had to sing in English “because the Western world dictates what is legitimate in rock’n’roll.” But, he goes on to wonder what happens “once that’s flipped economically and socially” to China. “You’ll have artists lining up to sing in Chinese because they will all want to penetrate that market.” (Artists, perhaps, as yaogunny as Avril Lavigne)

And, while we’re at it, one more. Martin Atkins, drummer for Public Image, Ltd, Killing Joke and several others, visited China in 2006. He spent just over a couple of weeks (16 days, as his documentary on the trip says) in Beijing and put out a compilation as well as an album under the monicker China Dub Soundsystem. At a panel held during the Austin, Texas uber-festival/conference SXSW in 2012, ‘Why the Global Music Industry Needs China’ (audio of the panel is at the link), Atkins posed a question up Corgan and Geldoff’s alley, beginning with his impressions of his time in Beijing: How his love of music was “re-energized” (though viewers of his documentary know that there were speed bumps all along that road)—in a way that it seems like Billy Corgan, to an extent, seems to have been by the idea of China, and in a way that I’m sure Bob Geldoff would once he sees what’s all gone on. Turning the panel’s topic on its head, Atkins asked, “Why [does] the Chinese music scene [need] any other part of the world?”