Let me hate on the Golden Melody Awards for a moment. The 25th edition of “Taiwan’s Grammys” took place last weekend in Taipei, as inbred as ever and in spite of the fact that nothing of note happened in Mandarin pop music last year. The largest number of awards — three — went to Jonathan Lee (李宗盛), who should probably be in the lifetime awards category by now. He is the same age, 58, as Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson (if he was still alive). As in America, the industry is grasping at straws. The new “king of Chinese pop” is Singaporean, JJ Lin (林俊傑), and the “queen” is Malaysian, Penny Tai (戴佩妮). They won awards for best male and female Mandarin singers and do well for regional market share. Best album went to Chang Chen-yue (張震嶽), who won perhaps because he copied what A-mei did five years ago and put out an album using his aboriginal name, Aayal Komod. Jay Chou (周杰倫) was conspicuously absent, as it seems he had the good sense to abstain from music and pursue his film career. At least someone realizes that Mando-pop is a zombie-fied industry.
The most galling surprise of the night was the Best Band award, which went to a group of college students nobody has ever heard of. This band openly claims to idolize Mayday (五月天), and one of the other nominees told me, “Even in music circles, nobody knows them. Our supposition is that record companies need a new pop rock band, since Mayday is getting old. Maybe they want to catch them when they are still young for better control.”
The group, incidentally, is called Mixer (麋先生). They formed less than two years ago and put out their first album last summer through Cheer Music, a company run by a producer jettisoned from one of the crumbling castles of Mando-pop, Rock Records.
Even the Chinese-language media was stunned by Mixer’s award. The China Times called it a “big surprise.” NowNews quoted band members as saying, “How is this possible?” and further reported that lead singer Sheng Hao (聖皓) thought he misheard the award announcement and didn’t believe it until he saw his bandmates walking up to the stage.
The other nominees for Best Band were Chthonic, Fire EX, Chairmen, Tizzy Bac, Sodagreen and Funky Brothers. One can only imagine how the jury meeting must have gone:
There’s the metal band, Chthonic. They apparently have fans in Europe.
“But not in Singapore. We gave them three awards last year, and a lot of good that did us. Next?”
The punk band Fire E.X. Big festival crowds. Great stage show. They’ve got a song very popular with the Sunflower movement.”
“Fat chance. They’re managed by The Wall, right?”
The Chairmen (董事長) have a new album.
“Not in Taiwanese I hope. But glad to hear they’re still around.”
“Too indie. Their singer is about to go solo anyway. We can give her something next year.”
A new band Funky Brothers. They managed to crowdsource money to produce their album and are pretty popular.
“Hahahaha. Nice one.”
“Their last album sucks, and besides, they’ve won plenty. Remember, we need to ration these awards, otherwise we’ll look like suckers.”
“Who the hell is Mixer! A bunch of Mayday wannabes? Wait a minute, I’ve got an idea….”
Then in 30 seconds — just like Chang Ching-Chung (張慶忠) moved the cross strait services trade agreement to the legislature’s floor for a vote — Remix was declared the winner. It is hard to imagine it happening any other way.