China’s Ministry of Culture banned 120 Internet songs 网络音乐产品 in August for content that promotes ‘obscenity and violence, incites criminal behaviour or harms social morality’. Websites and entertainment venues such as karaoke bars and cafés were given two weeks to remove the blacklisted titles or face severe penalties. The songs were also barred from commercial performances and from appearing in audio-visual publications.
Items one through seventeen on the list are from one band: Beijing hip-hop trio In3 阴三儿, which formed in 2006 and rose in prominence during the 2008 Olympics with radio hit Welcome Back to Beijing 北京欢迎你回来. Among their banned songs is the popular Beijing Evening News 北京晚报, which intersperses lyrics about local nightlife with social commentary on corruption and welfare: ‘some sleep in underpasses, while some dine on government expenses’, for example.
Once featured in a milk tea commercial, I Love Taiwanese Girls 我爱台妹 by MC HotDog and Ayal Komod 张震岳 with lyrics including ‘I don’t love Chinese ladies 小姐 (also slang for prostitutes), I love Taiwanese girls, may they reign forever’, also appeared on the blacklist. Ayal Komod (of Amis, or indigenous Taiwan nationality) also saw his Fart 放屁 and Cheating Couple 狗男女, which the musician claimed he had not performed in at least a decade, wiped from the Internet.
The blacklist contained a mix of household names and obscure Internet artists. Some of the more eye-catching titles include Suicide Diary 自杀日记 by Beijing rap group Xinjiekou 新街口组合, Fly to Other People’s Beds 飞向别人的床 by Internet rap artists Ceekay 沉珂 and Light Shen MC 光光, and the seemingly innocuous University Student Self-study Room 大学生自习室, about the difficultly of finding a quiet space for studying, by then-student Hao Yu 郝雨. As the list of banned songs circulated over the web, some Internet users sarcastically thanked the ministry for its recommendations.