Illustration: Liu Rui
Take the eccentric goddess Lady GaGa, the sexy beauty Beyonce, the Taiwan rookies Yoga Lin, Khalil Fong and Jam Hsiao, together with the popular electronic band Owl City, the Japanese star Ken Hirai, and even the 1990s boy band, the Backstreet Boys, who haven't appeared in public for years. Can you imagine all these names appearing on the same list?
If this was a concert held in the National Stadium, I believe that all the tickets, even those of the worst seats in the back, would be soon snapped up. After all, people vie for months just to glance at the back of Lady GaGa or Beyonce.
However, it is a great pity that this creative list was put forward by a less creative department, the Ministry of Culture.
Actually, it is the list of online music works that weren't submitted to the Chinese government for approval before distribution. The Ministry of Culture has issued two similar lists already this year, one on January 7 and the other on March 18.
A total of 300 music works on the Internet blacklist will be removed as punishment, according to the Ministry of Culture.
The music works without submission for approval are said to have caused "serious consequences," which is "disrupting the order of the online music market and endangering the security of national culture."
Frankly speaking, there's little explanation of what these "serious consequences" might be. Riots? A crime wave sparked by Katy Perry fans? And there's no explanation besides the two sentences mentioned above.
Does it mean that the music without submission for approval has poisoned content which will do harm to our national culture security? In fact, there are a large number of English songs on the three lists, mostly hits worldwide. Has every nation's culture been poisoned by Beyonce?
Why haven't these songs been submitted for approval? Obscenity, violence or politically incorrect separatist sentiments?
I have checked the lyrics of Yoga Lin's Goodnight and Wake up, Sherry's My dearest and many songs by Lady GaGa, which seldom have even the most mild erotic references. They are quite pure compared with even Chinese TV adverts for bras or lingerie.
There is indeed one sentence in GaGa's Marry the night, which is "I'm gonna marry the dark, gonna make love to the stars." Is it obscene? Perhaps people with obscene minds view it this way. For me, it is a poem.
But perhaps the Backstreet Boys' I want it that way is really a rousing cry for separatist sentiments, if you listen closely enough. Yet interestingly, the Icelandic singer Bjork, who yelled out "Tibet!" while singing her song Declare independence at a 2008 concert in Shanghai, is not on the list. What's more, her songs can still be found on the Internet.
It means that as long as you go through the approval process, even if you are on the show blacklist, you can have your songs broadcast and download through the Internet as usual. However, if you don't submit your song properly, they will be removed on "national culture" grounds.
Actually, it is interesting to simply look at the list itself.
The old boy band Backstreet Boys are on the list, and the list offers an opportunity for some has-been singers to be recalled such as Wawa, and even some singers who are barely known in China appear on the list, such as Shang Dongqian and Lin Zixi.
It seems that the hard-working guys at the Ministry of Culture have paid a lot of attention to balance in putting together the list.
The song range from 1990s hits to recent chart-toppers, the singers are North American, European, and Asian, and their ages range from teenyboppers to middle-aged songsters. What a rich selection!
Moreover, each list numbers exactly 100. The Ministry of Culture loves big round numbers. Maybe they got to 96 or 97 songs and just decided to throw a few more in.
Perhaps Lady GaGa needs to relinquish her position as the eccentric queen of pop. Could anybody be weirder than the Ministry of Culture?
The author is a Beijing based commentator. firstname.lastname@example.org