Sounding the Bromance

The Chopstick Brothers’ ‘Little Apple’ Music Video, Genre, Gender and the Search for Meaning in Chinese Popular Music

Authors

  • Jonathan P. J. Stock University College Cork

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jwpm.v3i2.32607

Keywords:

Chinese popular music, gender, genre, music video

Abstract

This article analyses the music video of ‘Little Apple’ by Wang Taili and Xiao Yang, also known as the Chopstick Brothers, one of China’s most successful productions in 2014, and one that exemplifies certain emerging trends in Chinese popular music more generally. The music video draws on K-pop models but also on Western inspirations (biblical, historical and contemporary) and has proven hard to reduce to a single, definitive narrative or interpretation. The analysis proceeds by introducing the song and its video, in the context of the Chopstick Brothers’ wider work. Its musical structure is presented, leading to questions as to its particular retro aesthetic. This leads to a study of the emergent genre of shenqu (divine song), which is based on notions of virality, epic craziness and the earworm effect, and to which ‘Little Apple’ contributes. The final sections of the article look at the production of gendered positions within the music video— noting that it is a love song sung by one man to another—and examine the public square dance setting where this song has been so widely picked up. Finally, I suggest why it may be that ‘Little Apple’ particularly can open out a space temporarily in which participants can experience a warm sense of human collaboration.

Author Biography

Jonathan P. J. Stock, University College Cork

Jonathan P. J. Stock is Professor and Head of Music at University College Cork. A former chair of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, he is currently co-editor of Ethnomusicology Forum and an Executive Board Member of the International Council for Traditional Music. He is author of two books on music in China and a textbook on world music, as well as articles in these subject areas and English traditional music, music analysis and fieldwork methods. His next book analyses the place of music among the everyday lives of the Bunun indigenous people in Taiwan.

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Published

2017-01-04

How to Cite

Stock, J. P. J. (2017). Sounding the Bromance: The Chopstick Brothers’ ‘Little Apple’ Music Video, Genre, Gender and the Search for Meaning in Chinese Popular Music. Journal of World Popular Music, 3(2), 167–196. https://doi.org/10.1558/jwpm.v3i2.32607

Issue

Section

Asian Popular Music