Sounding the Bromance: The Chopstick Brothers' 'Little Apple' music video, genre, gender and the search for meaning in Chinese popular music
Stock, Jonathan P. J.
- Publisher: Equinox
- Embargo end date: 2017-04-03
Chinese popular music | Gender | Genre | Music video
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.