China Beat Archive



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March 13, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright March 13, 2008. Used by permission.


This posting about the politics of pop concerts in Shanghai is mostly about an American duo (Jan and Dean), whose hits included “Surf City,” and the hard-to-categorize Icelandic songstress Bjork, who last week made headlines anddrew the ire of the Chinese state by saying the words “Tibet, Tibet” after performing a song called “Declare Independence” (on the heels of which, there wasapparent tinkering with Harry Connick Jr.’s song list at a recent performance). It still seemed right, though, to give the piece a title adapted from a song by a famous British band. Why? Because the Rolling Stones, like Bjork and Jan and Dean back in 1986, made headlines when they played Shanghai. And because the band’s lead singer, Mick Jagger, made the funniest statement I’ve ever come across regarding the often singularly unfunny topic of censorship in the PRC. When told before the group’s 2006 concert that the authorities forbid them from playing “Brown Sugar” and several other sexually suggestive songs, at a concert that Jagger knew would probably be attended largely by Western men, accompanied by either Western of Chinese women, his comment (made with his famous tongue firmly in cheek) was: “I’m pleased that the Ministry of Culture is protecting the morals of the expat bankers and their girlfriends that are going to be coming.”