In his freshman seminar Rock ’n’ Roll in Post-Mao China, Associate Professor Jiayan Mi opens students’ ears to contemporary music from the East. Here are four Chinese rockers he says everyone should know.
1. CUI JIAN. “He’s the godfather of Chinese rock—a true pioneer,” says Mi. “He channels Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Bon Jovi and John Lennon all at once.”
2. TANG DYNASTY. “They use heavy metal as a nationalist call to remember China’s past glory and power—and their vocal delivery is just the best. They’re also China’s first heavy metal band.”
3. HE YONG. The first Chinese punk singer, He Yong has “a very angry sound,” according to Mi. “It’s a little like Nirvana.”
4. YIN TS’ANG. “There are so many emerging hip-hop artists in China. Though Yin Ts’ang uses traditional Chinese instruments, they’re not accepted by the mainstream because their music and lyrics are still harsh to Chinese ears,” says Mi.