I made this “Taiwan indie – love of the land” playlist to share with fyeahcindie. I figured I would write about it here as well, since I just covered music from Taiwan on Spotify in a previous post.
The playlist consists of fourteen songs from independent artists from Taiwan. I’m really glad these artists are available on Spotify, because it really shows the diversity of artists in Taiwan. Some songs are definitely commentary on political and social issues. Other songs are purely about locations in Taiwan and gaining insight from those places. The diversity also shows in the language. The songs are in Amis, Hakka, Taiwanese, and Mandarin. There are also different genres: ballad, rap, rock, simple guitar, and songs that mix genres.
1. ho hay yan (喔嗨洋) – suming (舒米恩) (lyrics at kkbox)
In Amis. Suming is Pangcah (Amis) and has been credited with mixing Amis music with different genres.
2. Mahalateng (我心所屬) (things belonging to my heart) – suming (舒米恩) (lyrics at kkbox)
In Amis. About home, family, and ancestral lands, no matter where one has been.
3. 眾神護臺灣 (The Gods Bless Taiwan) – 董事長樂團 (The Chairman) (lyrics at indievox)
In Taiwanese. A mix of traditional temple instruments and rock. Asking the temple gods to bless Taiwan.
4. 台北!台北! (Taipei!Taipei!) – 八十八顆芭樂籽 (88balaz) (lyrics at bandcamp)
In Mandarin. Complaining about problems suffered by any major metropolitan city. “…lonely people of Taipei, lonely people of Taipei… so what if there’s pollution, Taipei, Taipei, where everyone is the same, Taipei, Taipei, where the food has no taste, Taipei, Tapei.”
5. 記憶盆地 (The History of Taipei City) – 拷秋勤 (Kou Chou Ching)
In Hakka, Taiwanese, and Mandarin. Features 李靜芳 (Lee Ching Fang; link to FB fan page), a traditional Taiwanese opera singer. A great mix of rap and traditional opera. The indievox link has a summary of the song: “not sure when people started calling Taipei City the land of the nobles, when did everyone stop loving this city? the reason we do so is because we don’t know this city. Its past has been replaced by new buildings. tradition and modernity do not conflict, and modern construction can preserve many important traditional resources. we need to bring back that lost history. through this song, we’re telling everyone, let’s bring back our pride in Taipei.”
6. 台北 Balaba (Taipei balaba) – 黃玠 (Dadado Huang) (lyrics at kkbox)
In Mandarin. Escaping busy life in 台北 with a comforting song.
7. 貢寮你好嗎 (Gongliao how are you?) – 929 (lyrics at kkbox)
In Mandarin. 貢寮 is in the northeastern part of the Taiwan. It is known for 福隆 (Fulong) beach where the Hohaiyan Rock Festival is held every summer. The construction of the fourth nuclear power plant is also in 貢寮. “…youths have gathered on the sand in the hundreds of thousands, want to have fun, to rock, and be brave, if everyone sings together, what amount of strength could there be. I want to loudly sing, sing to you, I want to loudly sing, sing to the sand, I want to loudly sing, with all the energy I have, we do not want the nuclear power plant…”
8. 台中日和 (good day in Taichung) – 葛洛力 (Glory) (lyrics at kkbox)
In Mandarin. Spending lovely days on the west coast in 台中, and life’s ups and downs.
9. 三分之一搖籃曲 (One-Third Cradlesong) – 甜梅號 (Sugar Plum Ferry)
Instrumental. 甜梅號 (Sugar Plum Ferry), was temporarily named 四分之三搖籃曲 (Three-Quarters Lullaby), and is now called 微光群島 (Shimmering Islands). This piece was originally written after the 921 earthquake in 1999. The earthquake was one of the deadliest in history and caused major damage. The earthquake was centered in 南投 (Nantou), which is located in the center of Taiwan.
10. 要去高雄 (going to Kaohsiung) – 宇宙人 (Cosmos People) (lyrics at kkbox)
In Mandarin. Eagerly going to 高雄, a city in southern Taiwan, “…where the temperature is hot, the sun is bright… there is someone there waiting for me…”
11. 墾丁的風 (the wind of Kenting) – 吳志寧 (Zulin Wu) (lyrics at indievox)
In Mandarin. Relating the nature of 墾丁, which is the southernmost point of Taiwan, to life and love.
12. 台灣魂 (Taiwan spirit) – Mc Basso (lyrics at indievox)
In Mandarin. A rap song about the being the future of Taiwan, putting away political and historical differences, and uniting for the greater good.
13. 島 (island) – 吳志寧 (Zulin Wu) (lyrics at kkbox)
In Mandarin. A lovely song about the people and beauty of Taiwan. It’s also the ending song for a show on public television called 我們的島 (our island; link to YT). “…our youth is written on the island’s mountains… we have the strength, warmth of the sun, illuminating the path that the island will progress… it doesn’t matter if we are happy or sad, we will forever protect her. our island, small small island, forever accompanying her.”
14. 晚安！台灣 (Good Night! Formosa!) – 滅火器 (Fire EX.) (lyrics at indievox)
In Taiwanese. An anthem for many social movements in Taiwan. “in this quiet night, I know you have worries and cannot sleep, thinking about your past, your punishments, suffering for many years… in this quiet night, I know you have worries and cannot sleep, worried about where your future leads, where your happiness will be… darkness will eventually pass, once the sun comes out it will be a nice day, for you have a beautiful name… Heavenly Grandfather will bring blessings, once the sun comes out it will be a nice day, hoping for peace, Taiwan… hoping that everything will go smoothly, Taiwan.”
Even though I like the arrangement and songs on the playlist, there were a few songs that came to mind that were either not on Spotify or not counted as indie.
一條命 (One Life), the most recent album by 董事長樂團 is not on Spotify, but music videos are available on YouTube. 美麗啊 and 家己的Formosa both speak to the beauty and problems in Taiwan. 美麗啊 specifically speaks about 美麗灣 (Miramar Resort) in 臺東, a construction project that threatens to harm the eastern coastline of Taiwan.
The album 我是‧海雅谷慕 from 張震嶽 won the 25th Golden Melody Award for Best Mandarin Album earlier this year. The song 我家門前有大海 (Spotify link) (lyrics from kkbox) is a catchy song about the beauty of 花蓮 on the east coast of Taiwan.
Another song that came to mind was 入陣曲 by 五月天 (Spotify link) (lyrics from kkbox), which I’ve written about before. It definitely summarizes the overall social and political climate in Taiwan.
島嶼天光 (Island’s Sunrise) by 滅火器 (Fire EX.) will always be a reminder of 2014. It was written during the protests of the Sunflower Movement. Although it speaks to that particular moment in time, it also reminds us to continuously stand up for what we believe in and be 勇敢的台灣人 (courageous Taiwanese people).