Media Playlist: Over the 月亮 (Moon) [MUSE]

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Media Playlist: Over the 月亮 (Moon) [MUSE]

Grace Xu

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Happy Lunar New Year! In honor of today being Chinese New Year, I’ve compiled a list of various Chinese pop culture recommendations, from music to TV shows to YouTube channels. As a Chinese American, I think Chinese pop culture is especially underrated and not easily accessible in America. Because of that, I hope this curation offers many new gems you may not have discovered otherwise. Enjoy!

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Media Playlist:  Over the 月亮 (Moon)

Red lanterns, well-wishes, warm family greetings, rowdy street markets, perfect moon, plentiful dinners, red envelopes, lucky fortunes.

Pop Music

Check out this music playlist on Spotify at: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2lCJ1xjG4HkZ7xIlh8Peag?si=is05CjhcQcO-E7synpHzyA

贰叁 [Kris Wu]

This is Chinese pop to the very essence of the word in that it’s literally traditional Chinese music combined with more modern pop and rap elements. In other words, this is the Chinese American of songs. Also, there’s a short film for this song that I think works beautifully.

Lover Boy 88 [88rising: Phum Viphurit, Higher Brothers]

On the other hand, this song is more pop with Chinese elements (unlike Kris’s song, which was Chinese music with pop elements). The jazzy vibes are adorable, and it’s from 88rising, so you know it’s quality.

小时候的我们 [Eric Chou]

Eric Chou has the best discography. Period.

Lucky [王一博] 

Wishing you luck and fortune this year! ; ) Honestly though, listening to upbeat, cute songs like this always make me feel better, like a bit of luck coming my way.

告白前一秒 [Ryan.B]

The title translates to something along the lines of, “the second before confessing (love)” and the song sounds just as adorable as the title.

Luv Again – Chinese Version [UNIQ]

If you listen to this playlist, you can probably tell by now that I’m a sucker for 2000s/2010s (wow, I can finally say that since we’re in the 2020s now), cute, cheerful, upbeat, almost naive Chinese songs. Need I say more?

可不可以给我你的微信?[MOONBOI]

This song went viral on Douyin (the Chinese equivalent of Tik Tok), and in my opinion, rightfully so. (Again, see my comments above about cute Chinese songs and my undying love for them.)

Tequila Sunrise [88rising: Jackson Wang, Higher Brothers, ft. August 08 & GoldLink]

Another 88rising song because 88rising is just iconic. Also, I love whenever the Higher Brothers rap on more cheerful/pop/wholesome songs (see Lover Boy 88).

想把你留在这里 [Tizzy T]

One of my friends who live in China recommended this song to me, and I immediately fell in love. I know I said I’m obsessed with cheerful songs, but nostalgic, bittersweet songs might be (dare I say it) even better.

Missing U [Gen Neo, Tracy Wang]

Here’s an even more bittersweet song to close off the playlist. This song is probably more typical of Cpop in general, which has a very distinctive ballad-infused-with-pop style, and I can listen to this type of song no matter what mood I’m in.

 

courtesy of @personinexistence (Instagram)

TV Shows

While it’s unfortunate that the Chinese firewall blocks YouTube, the fortunate part is that most Chinese TV shows and movies can be legally uploaded to Youtube for the enjoyment of international fans. Taking advantage of that fact, here’s a list of recommendations:

The Untamed (陈情令)

Premise: A historical fantasy set in China, this show follows Wei Wuxian, a prodigy in the cultivation world. However, while he was once known as a hero, he is now feared as the Yiling Patriarch—someone known to kill innocents after he started to cultivate the demonic path. 

My Thoughts: While I’ve finished reading the novel this drama was based in (hands down, the best plot I’ve ever read), I haven’t yet finished the TV show yet. I do plan on writing a full review on MUSE once I finish, because this is one of the best shows/plots I’ve ever seen. The fact that this drama manage to sneak in LGBT+ elements in spite of Chinese censorship is a landmark moment, and every single character is created so three-dimensionally. While the show is pretty long (50 episodes), it’s 100% my top recommendation—you will laugh, cry, and wish the drama never ended. 

A Love So Beautiful (致我们单纯的小美好)

Premise: Chen Xiaoxi—a cheerful girl struggling academically in high school—has had a crush on her neighbor Jiang Chen—the handsome, top student—for as long as she could remember. A story about romance, friendship, and coming-of-age, this drama follows the characters from high school to college to adulthood.

My Thoughts: While a very typical Chinese drama (naive, outgoing girl chases after genius, tsundere guy), I have to admit it’s pretty cute. It’s a pure, youthful drama about the growing pains of high school—with such an adorable friend group!—and the first Chinese drama I finished.

Love O2O (微微一笑很倾城)

Premise: Bei Weiwei is a top video game player, who “marries” virtually another top player in order to participate in a couple competition—only to find out that she may know the top player in-real-life at her college. 

My Thoughts: I haven’t actually watched this, so I can’t offer my personal opinions. I will say that whenever I ask someone for Cdrama recommendations, or look online for recommendations, I will always hear Love O2O. Like most Cdramas, it sounds like another cute and pure romance.

The Collaboration (潮音战纪)

Premise: A reality TV show, The Collaboration brought together several artists (Eric Chou, Gong Ge, Jun, Jony J, Longfei Fu, Ma Boqian, Samuel, The8, Wu Jiacheng, Yanan, Zhenan Zhou), who had to partner up each round to provide a well-rounded piece of music, from composition to recording to performance. Viewers can vote, and some episodes involve eliminations.

My Thoughts: This show was how I discovered Eric Chou’s music (did I mention, he has the best discography?), so I’m sure you can guess my thoughts. I’m typically not a fan of reality TV shows, but I liked the premise of this one and all the new music/performances that resulted.

 

Movies

Suddenly Seventeen (28岁未成年)

Secret (不能说的秘密)

Our Times (我的少女时代)

The Last Wish (小小的愿望)

 

YouTube Channels

子时当归

I love to put these types of daily life vlogs in the background while doing homework or journaling, because they’re so calming and aesthetic. Plus, this YouTuber speaks in Chinese.

厨房呀我在家snowenn

It is just short of impossible to find a YouTuber that uses simplified Chinese (because YouTube is blocked from mainland China); however, here’s a rare channel that does. It’s also a cooking channel, and Chinese food is the love of my life.

Hanna Vanharanta

I have been searching forever for the Chinese equivalent of a high school vlogger, and while I still haven’t succeeded, Hanna Vanharanta is pretty close. She’s half Finnish and half Hongkongese, and vlogs her life in Hong Kong.

TiffwithMi

While the Youtubers themselves are Singaporean, they speak in Chinese and post more “mainstream” type of YouTube videos such as challenges, pranks, vlogs, and such. 

李子柒 Liziqi

Probably the most famous Chinese YouTuber, this channel offers videos that are a combination of rural nature, asmr, traditional Chinese, and “primitive technology” elements. The videos are such beautiful works of art.

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Hope you enjoyed these various media recommendations. Have a lovely Lunar New Year and Year of the Rat!

 

On this blog, Shruthi Ravichandran and Grace Xu provide monthly curations of all types of arts and media, from TV shows to music to novels and even YouTubers. On top of mood-oriented playlists, there’s also the occasional rant-filled review. They hope readers will always leave with a new piece of media to muse over. Click here to read more from MUSE.     

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