Red songs and the main melody

cultural nationalism and political propaganda in Chinese popular music


  • Qian Wang Yibin University



Chinese popular music, cultural nationalism, main melody, red songs


Red songs were revolutionary songs and propaganda songs. In recent years, the government has repackaged red songs as popular music and adapted popular music into red song repertoire simultaneously. The fusion between red songs and popular music makes young people’s ideological education more effective. The classification of red song repertoire and the identification of the main melody publicize what kind of (popular) cultural product the government welcomes for reward, benefit and profit. Highlighting the cultural context of nationalism can soften the coerciveness and aggressiveness of political propaganda. The popularity of red song TV singing contests and local singing activities demonstrates that politics and culture, propaganda and commerce, education and entertainment are all mixed together for the smooth operation of ideological control in today’s China. But to a certain extent, the commercialization of red songs into entertainment also corrupts the seriousness of political propaganda.

Author Biography

Qian Wang, Yibin University

Qian Wang is a lecturer in popular music and the creative industries at Yibin University. His research is focused on Chinese popular music and the popular music scene in mainland China. Currently, he is doing research on queer culture in Chinese popular music.


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How to Cite

Wang, Q. (2013). Red songs and the main melody: cultural nationalism and political propaganda in Chinese popular music. Perfect Beat, 13(2), 127–145.