Blacklist Studio

Blacklist Studio
(Heimingdan gongzuo shi)
Pop musicians
Formed in the wake of the Nationalist Party’s (KMT) 1987 lifting of martial law, Blacklist Studio played a seminal role in the popularization and politicization of popular song sung in Taiwanese dialect. Their 1989 album Songs of Madness (Zhuakuang ge) remains a landmark in the history of popular music in Taiwan, and a crucial sonic document of the upsurge in nativist consciousness and democratic activism which characterized the period. Fronted by the now prominent Taiwanese singer and composer Chen Ming-chang (b. 1956), who had made a name for himself by tirelessly promoting Taiwanese folksong on the campus circuit as well as writing an award-winning soundtrack for new wave filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Dust in the Wind (Lianlian fengchen, 1986), the band was composed of a group of self-described ‘musical dissidents’, including vocalist Wang Ming-hui and lyricist Chen Ming-yu.
Rebelling against forty years of Mandarin hegemony in Taiwanese popular musical production, and at the same time distancing themselves from the undeniably strong influence of Japanese enka on local Taiwanese folksong, Blacklist Studio fused native folk idioms and instruments (including elements of Hakka and aboriginal (yuanzhumin) Taiwanese music) with rock and roll and synthesizer-driven new wave to create a new sound. Straying from what had been seen as the ‘vulgar’ preoccupation of previous Taiwanese-language popular song with the lives and loves of the working class and the underworld, Blacklist Studio’s lyrically sophisticated songs such as ‘Imperial Taipei’ (Taipei diguo) and ‘Democracy Bumpkin’ (Minzhu acao) provided epic and politically pointed testimony to the tribulations of modern Taiwanese history, confronting issues as diverse as Japanese and US colonialism, KMT repression and the decidedly mixed blessings of the island’s breakneck economic development, all through a defiantly local lens. Although their follow-up album, Cradle Songs (Yaolan qu, 1996), was a commercial and critical failure, Blacklist is widely recognized for having paved the way not only for a new generation of alternative Taiwanese folk and rock musicians, but also for the entrance of Taiwanese language into the mainstream as exemplified by the runaway success of the aboriginal pop chanteuse Ah-Mei in the late 1990s.
See also: music in Taiwan

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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