Perfect Beat, Vol 13, No 2 (2012)

Red songs and the main melody: cultural nationalism and political propaganda in Chinese popular music

Qian Wang
Issued Date: 23 Sep 2013

Abstract


Red songs were revolutionary songs and propaganda songs. In recent years, the government has repackaged red songs as popular music and adapted popular music into red song repertoire simultaneously. The fusion between red songs and popular music makes young people’s ideological education more effective. The classification of red song repertoire and the identification of the main melody publicize what kind of (popular) cultural product the government welcomes for reward, benefit and profit. Highlighting the cultural context of nationalism can soften the coerciveness and aggressiveness of political propaganda. The popularity of red song TV singing contests and local singing activities demonstrates that politics and culture, propaganda and commerce, education and entertainment are all mixed together for the smooth operation of ideological control in today’s China. But to a certain extent, the commercialization of red songs into entertainment also corrupts the seriousness of political propaganda.

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DOI: 10.1558/prbt.v13.i2.127

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