Chinese Language Indie-Pop and Alt-Rock

‘How can I find out more about Chinese indie-pop and alt-rock?’

It's a question I’m sure we’ve all asked ourselves at some point. Well, the answer is ‘Watercress FM’; a Chinese mash-up of LastFM, Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Goodreads, IMDb.... Basically it is a site for finding new music, books and films. It contains content from all over the world but also, and crucial for those in search of China’s indie music scene, lots of Chinese content.


Anyway, this blog post is not just to alert you to the delights of the Chinese hipster scene (yes! China has hispters too! They are called the wényì qīngnián or 'cultured youth') but also to highlight the usefulness of music for learning Chinese, or any other language.

The sounds of Chinese are so different from those of English that it can take a while for our ears to adjust to the new sounds. As such, it is important to 'open our ears' to these new sounds from the very beginning. This is usually done in class through 'listen and repeat' exercises - how many times have you repeated 'ni hao' just trying to get the tones right?

Music provides us with a much more interesting way of doing 'listen and repeat' exercises because we tend to listen to our favourite songs on repeat anyway. The trick is finding some music in Chinese that we like, so that we find ourselves wanting to listen and repeat. This is where Dòubàn comes in handy!

Simply make an account and listen to some songs under the 'Chinese music' heading. When you find one you like, click the heart icon and the site's algorithms will bring you into contact with other songs you might like. You can even search for your favourite music in English (or other languages) so that every now and again a Chinese song will just pop up in amongst your regular playlist!

Here are a few of our favourites to get you started (they open in new windows - click on the green 'button' if it plays the previous song again).

1. Carsick Cars: 中南海/Zhōngnánhǎi

2. Queen Sea Big Shark (后海大鲨鱼/Hòuhǎi dà shāyú): 'Bling bling bling bling'

3. Hedgehog (刺猬 Cìwei): 'Asphalt Road' (柏油公路 Bóyóu gōnglù)

If the thought of learning Mandarin makes you nervous, don't worry! Our pre-departure packages include a short introduction to learning Mandarin, plus lots of pointers on independent language learning. 



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