Boomkat Product Review:
Cosmopolitan pop from 1920-50s Shanghai, spotlighting a cross-fertilisation of east/west pop and cinema music during a golden age, before it was outlawed by the CCP.
“Shidaiqu literally means “songs of the era”, a term used to describe a hybrid musical genre that first began permeating through the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai in the late 1920s. Blending western pop, jazz, blues and Hollywood-inspired film soundtracks with traditional Chinese elements, the shidaiqu represented a musical and cultural merging that would go on to shape a golden age of Chinese popular song & film in the pre-communism interwar period.
Waiting for Your Return brings together a wide collection of recordings for an anthological overview of the style. Taking in it’s early beginnings in the work of the pioneering composer Li Jinhui – whose 1927 song “Drizzle”, featuring the vocals of his daughter Li Minghui, is often referred to as the first shidaiqu record – through to more polished 1930s & 40s examples, when China’s western-influenced popular music & movie industry reached it’s golden age with the prevalence of the Seven Great Singing Stars (Bai Hong, Bai Guang, Gong Qiuxia, Li Xianglan, Wu Yingyin, Yao Lee and perhaps most prolific of all, Zhou Xuan).
Included in the collection are tracks recorded right up until the music’s demise in Shanghai in the early 1950s – during which time the Chinese Communist Party denounced shidaiqu as “yellow music”, outlawed nightclubs and pop music production, and destroyed western-style instruments – following which, much of these singers would decamp to Hong Kong where many saw further success throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s.”