Divine Disturbed

Posted on May 19, 2011


Speaking of viral videos, this video of Chinese folk singer Gong Lina singing a folk song sans lyric, titled “忐忑” or “Tante” (“Disturbed”), has been perhaps one of the most viewed and talked about video in China since 2010. The song was composed by Gong’s husband, Robert Zollitsch, a German composer who loves Chinese folk music. The video was recorded during a performance of Gong’s and posted online, and since then has taken on a life of its own. Officially, music gurus in China praised the song as an artistic innovation of the traditional Chinese folk music, but the song went viral online mostly because of other reasons — its jarring tunes, its meaningless non-lyric that consists of ah’s, eh’s and ho’s, and the exaggerating expressions and gestures of its performer. Because the song is almost impossible to sing, it has been dubbed, not without sarcasm, as shengqu, or a “divine song.”

Gong’s original performance:

The song has gotten so viral that in a blockbuster romantic comedy that came out this year,  All’s Well End Well 2011, a main character Smoothie played by Chapman To did a ridiculous comical cover of it:

Another rendition of the song done by a chubby kid also went viral online:

But the song’s influence is by no means limited to the internet. According to Nanfang Daily, Tante has been banned by Chinese National Basketball Association (CNBA) during any CNBA games. This was because many DJs of the home teams often played this song when the guest teams were shooting or engaged in offense. CNBA ruled that this song was extremely noisy and disturbing, and can distract and affect the performance of the players, and therefore should be banned. About this, Gong commented:

Every popular song has a degree of familiarity. If it’s the first time that the players hear the song, it’s very possible that they will be attracted to the rhythm of the song, and can’t completely concentrate on the game. This proves that Tante is a very attractive and a good song.

Netizens in China, however, may have slightly different opinions about the song. Many think that the song, as its title suggests, is rather disturbing, making listeners feel like “sitting on a carpet made of needles,” or “having gotten a shot of chicken blood” (Huanqiuwang). More than anything, the song is rather comical to many natizens and the term “shenqu Tante” (“the divine song Disturbed”) has become a popular term bloggers use to spice up their posts a little.

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