Tat Ming Pair

Tat Ming Pair
(Daming yipai)
Pop musicians
First emerging onto the Hong Kong popular music scene in 1985, Tat Ming Pair captured and contributed to the cultural ferment and sense of political urgency that characterized the decade following the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984. This influential duo, pairing instrumentalist Tats Lau (Liu Yida) with vocalist Anthony YiuMing Wong (Huang Yaoming), positioned itself (along with alternative rock acts such as Beyond) in opposition to the Hong Kong star system and mainstream Canto-pop balladry (see pop music in Hong Kong). Inspired by the modernist aesthetics and the synthesizer-driven sounds of British new wave bands of the 1980s such as Japan, Ultravox and the Pet Shop Boys, Tat Ming’s music represented a serious and sustained attempt to come to grips with the vagaries of Hong Kong’s colonial identity and political predicament in the uncertain years before the handover to the mainland.
The duo’s first long-playing album, The Story of the Stone (Shitou ji, 1987) already exhibited many of the qualities that would garner the band an appreciative following: driving electronic rhythms, strong melodies, literate lyrics packed with cinematic and literary allusions, and a concern for those relegated to Hong Kong’s political and social margins. With their ironically titled record, I’m Waiting for Your Return (Wo dengzhe ni huilai, 1987), the band created Hong Kong’s first ‘concept’ album: sandwiched between a melancholy sonic collage of airline departures (Hong Kong people migrating to the USA and Canada) and arrivals (from the mainland), Tat Ming offered a lyrically complex and wide-ranging suite of songs about the dilemmas of identity in a city doomed to decolonization and political powerlessness—aptly figured in one protest song about the construction of a nuclear power plant in Daya Bay, just across the border with China.
The duo released three more politically challenging and critically acclaimed albums in the ensuing years, allegorically addressing issues as diverse as the Tiananmen massacre and the repression of alternative sexualities in Hong Kong society, before splitting to pursue solo careers in 1991. A reunion album Viva! Viva! Viva! (Wansui wansui wansui!) was released to much fanfare in 1996, and Tat Ming’s legacy continues to inform and inspire both mainstream and alternative musical production in Hong Kong.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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