My Favourite Music #1: RubberBand

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Introduction

I previously wrote a blog on the song "Ciao" by RubberBand when it was first released last year. Since then, the song won the Song of the Year at the Ultimate Song Chart Awards, the equivalent of the Grammys in Cantopop.

Anyway, there are many other artists that I like, and I am starting a blog series to introduce their music. Naturally most of these will be Cantopop, as these are unfamiliar to most people outside Hong Kong, including many Mandarin speaking Chinese. You don't need me to write a blog on Taylor Swift, for example, do you?

If you have never heard of Cantopop, you can refer to my previous blog. As explained previously, Cantopop lyrics are usually more meaningful than those in other languages, as the Chinese language is implicit and fewer words and syllables can convey a lot more meanings (for example, pronouns and articles can often be omitted in a sentence). And because Cantonese is a tonal language with 6 tones (some people claim there are 9), it is very difficult to compose the lyrics. Beside rhyming, the tones need to fit the melody, otherwise it will become a totally different word with different meaning. For example, if you put the word 係 (hai6, which means "is") to a high note, it will become hai1, which means "cxxt".

The good Cantopop lyrics are therefore highly popular and appreciated by many, and the few famous lyricists received pop star status in Hong Kong. In these blogs, I will try to translate some of my favourite ones and hopefully you can gain some appreciation too.

RubberBand

Since I have already written a blog on RubberBand, I will start my series with them first. You can read the Wikipedia link if you want to know their bios. RubberBand has been active in the Cantopop scene since releasing their first album in 2008. They are often regarded as the true "Hong Kong people's band", as they are the very few artists maintaining their stance on supporting the pro-democratic movement in Hong Kong, while many others either stay silent, self-censored or utterly pro-Beijing in order not to affect their career in Mainland China. Their music are different from the usual love ballads found in many Cantopop. Many of their songs are on social issues and topics, and hence attracting a more mature fan base (between 30s to 50s, like myself). Here are some of my favourites that I have translated into English (pardon my poor translations).

Easy

Easy (link to MV on YouTube) was released in 2012 as the theme song of their fifth album (their albums are in alphabetical order, and their latest album is called "i"). It was a time when there were a lot of people quarrelling in public and their videos were posted online, which often generated heated discussions. As the lyrics suggested, the main theme of this song was to tell the Hong Kong people to "take it easy".

Easy

music/lyrics by RubberBand

雪櫃裏面啤酒已飲光
[There is] no more beer left in the fridge
落到大街夜粥舖收了檔
Gone down to the main street, the restaurant was already closed
空運的絕版碟寄失麼
The limited edition CD was lost in the mail
心水電影落畫先知錯過
Only to find out [that I] missed [my] favourite movie [after it] stopped screening

小小的閃失已暴跳如雷
A tiny mishap got [us] into a fury
呼吸都繃緊
Breath became taut
越覺深深不忿
Felt deeply indignant

這個城市每人 對偏差敏感
[In] this city everyone is sensitive to deviation
抱怨微細缺陷
Complain about tiny defects
一臉灰暗
Face [turns] gloomy

那侍應弄濕新買西裝
That waiter spilt on the newly bought suit
住進極貴飯店不包上網
Stayed at a very expensive hotel [and it] didn't include [free] wi-fi
趕下班上司轟炸囉唆
Hurried to leave work [when] the boss [kept] bombarding [and] being annoying
一街在咳病菌急速散播
[People] coughed on the street, germs were spreading rapidly

小小的閃失已暴跳如雷
A tiny mishap got [us] into a fury
呼吸都繃緊
Breath became taut
越覺深深不忿
Felt deeply indignant

這個城市每人 已不懂降溫
[In] this city everyone no longer knows how to lower the heat
抱怨微細缺陷
Complain about tiny defects
一臉灰暗
Face [turns] gloomy

Come on, take it easy
放開等閒事
Let go of trivial matters
Come on, take it easy (slow and easy)
請你一試 (just have a try)
Would you please try for once? (just have a try)

發現有十塊安放口袋
Found 10 bucks sitting in the pocket
進了電梯下一位超了載
Entered the lift, the next person [couldn't get in when it became] overloaded
坐地鐵列車駛進剛好
Rode the metro, the train came right away
行錯路竟共她街中碰到
Gone the wrong way, unexpectedly met her on the street
幸福或者逐點的給送到
Perhaps happiness would be delivered bit by bit

Inverted Poem

Inverted Poem (album version) or this acoustic version was also from the Easy album in 2012. The song was partly inspired by the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The theme of this song is that time cannot be reversed and we have to focus on the present.

倒行詩 Inverted Poem

music by 正 @ RubberBand, lyrics by Tim Lui

望碎片 亂散開 滿地也閃光
Watched the glitters spreading around, sparkles everywhere
剎那錯手捉不緊了
[My] hands couldn't grab hold [of the moment]
為友好讓美酒注入這酒杯
Poured fine wine into [my] friend's glass
大家開心相約一起
We're happy to be together

似倒帶將一切沮喪回復到最初熱望
Like rewinding all despairs back to initial enthusiasm
能略過幾多壞境況
How many bad situations could have been skipped?
失去復返 偏差改恰當
Lost [things] are returned, errors are corrected

但誰可 請煙花又再開
But who could set off the fireworks again?
為童真 安撫傷害
Soothe the harms done to [our] innocence
為人生 雕刻出精緻未來
Sculpt [our] lives into an exquisite future
現實默不作聲
Reality remains silent

問誰可 光陰倒敘揭開
Ask who could uncover time in reverse?
便重演 青春的精彩
Then re-enact [our] youthful brilliance
就停底腳步 不刻意競賽
And [we'd] stop [our] steps, won't deliberately compete [against time]
世上有些事 怎麼可再次
[But] how could something in this world be repeated?

地殼都 亂散開 遍地也哭聲
The crust broke apart, cries everywhere
世界最終支撐不了
The world finally couldn't support [it]
沒有關掉過燈每日也緊逼
Never switched off the lights, pressing hard daily
人生總想天天轉好
[We all] wanted [our] lives to improve everyday

似倒帶將那些頹喪回復到信心滿腔
Like rewinding those dejections back to full of confidence
能避免幾多大傷創
How many great trauma could have been avoided?
失去復返 偏差改恰當
Lost [things] are returned, errors are corrected

* 但誰可 請煙花又再開
But who could set off the fireworks again?
為童真 安撫傷害
Soothe the harms done to [our] innocence
為人生 雕刻出精緻未來
Sculpt [our] lives into an exquisite future
現實未給篡改
Reality couldn't be rewritten

問誰可 光陰倒敘揭開
Ask who could uncover time in reverse?
便重演 青春的精彩
Then re-enact [our] youthful brilliance
就停底腳步 不刻意競賽
And [we'd] stop [our] steps, won't deliberately compete [against time]
世上有些事 怎麼等下次
How could something in this world wait until next time?

Repeat *

世上有些事 卻只得這次
[But there are] something in this world that would only happen this [one] time

Hostage

Hostage (link to MV on YouTube) was released in 2015 after the Umbrella Revolution in 2014. Since the mass protest, there was an massive rift in the Hong Kong society, particularly between the younger generation pursuing democratic reform and often resorted to violent protests, and the older generation who valued stability and wealth above everything else.

This song is particularly touching as it is often adopted as the soundtrack of documentaries on the Siege of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University during the Anti-Extradition Bill Protests in 2019, when students defending the campus were besieged by police and charged with rioting.

挾持 Hostage

music by RubberBand, lyrics by Wyman Wong

貌似是 喪盡 良知
Seems like [I've] completely lost [my] conscience
可知 心底初衷 仍澎湃 不已
Would [you] know the original intention at the bottom of [my] heart is still surging?
想出去 躁動一次
Want to go out and be restless for once
然而家中總有要事 做什麼不得我作主
But there are always important matters at home, whatever I do is not up to me

當初的堅持 流亡在何處
The original persistence, where was it exiled to?
心中的天使 被那位挾持
The angel in [my] heart, held hostage by whom?
情人很擔心 雙親介意
Beloved worries very much, parents take offence
等幾時至 可以
Wait till when would [I] be able to?

上個夢 已沒 全屍
The previous dream was [dead] without corpse
今天 雖則安穩 殘留了 執意
Although it is stable today, [it] leaves behind a resolute mind
不驚怕 滿路風雨
Not afraid of storms along the way
就恨想搞的撒野事 被幸福所虛耗透支
But regret that the wild ideas [I] had were consumed and wasted by contentment

天真的瘋狂 埋藏在何處
Naive craziness, where was it buried?
簡單的衝動 被那位挾持
A simple impluse, held hostage by whom?
從前講好的 統統擱置
[Those] past [plans] agreed were all shelved
假裝 還有 下次
Pretend there'll be next time

如你的真理 全違背了我宗旨
If your truth totally goes against my principles
與你決裂 或做人質
Break up with you or be [your] hostage
但正義 永沒有含糊的位置
But righteousness would never have an ambiguous position
就算為愛 別要認輸
Even for love, don't admit defeat
談何其容易
[But] it's easier said than done

當初的堅持 流亡在何處
The original persistence, where was it exiled to?
心中的天使 被那位挾持
The angel in [my] heart, held hostage by whom?
良朋很擔心 恩師介意
Good friends worry very much, teacher takes offence
個個在制止
Everyone is stopping [us]

只盼下一次
Only wish the next time
多舛的好事 又說起未遲
Such wrong good deeds, it's never too late
從來當瘋子 傷害心智
Since ever being a madman would damage the mind
置過業 先造次
Own a property first before making rash decision

別再話 喪盡 良知
Don't tell [me] again [that I've] completely lost [my] conscience
多想 不必多想 來陪你放肆
Really wish [that I] wouldn't need to think too much before joining you to be audacious

That End

That End (link to MV on YouTube) was released in 2018 in their 8th studio album "Hours". The song was inspired by the event in Beijing after a massive fire broke out in a slum in November 2017 that killed 19 people. After that, the government announced a policy to eliminate the "low end population" from Beijing, and evicted thousands of the poor by stopping utility supplies (water, gas, electricity) to their homes.

那一端 That End

music by RubberBand & Patrick Lui, lyrics by RubberBand & Tim Lui

Gente do mundo
People of the world
A vida e dura
Life is hard
Mais e melhor com a musica
More and better with music
Eu tenho ai uma coisinha
I have a little something
Canta ai Número Seis
Sing it, Number 6
Vamos cantar! Tudo o mundo!
Let's sing! All the world!

人用汗血出賣
Men selling their sweat and blood
鎖於工廠裡趕製金腰帶
Locked up in factories rushing to produce the golden belts
神在每天 穿新裝上街
Gods wear new clothes and take to the streets everyday
著不盡照買
Too many clothes but keep on buying

孩童踏上荒地
Children set foot on wasteland
將稀土開挖 被勞役枉死
Excavating rare earths and tortured to death
神被奉上 超級新手機
Gods are handed with super new phones
套出賺厚利
Cashing out and make a huge profit

什麼世代
What kind of generation is this?
如此荒誕地存在
Exist in such absurdity
那一端被欺榨 眾神不意外
That end is being squeezed and bullied, the gods are not surprised
只怪投錯胎
Could only blame [them] being born in the wrong lives
什麼世代
What kind of generation is this?
如此興奮大時代
Such an exhilarating grand era
這一端在苛索 永未想按捺
This end keeps demanding, never wants to hold back
Todo o mundo!
All the world!

神在那冬天 反臉
Gods turned against [the people] in that winter
一聲搞清潔 打掃御花園
In the name of cleaning up, sweeping the royal garden
人們被趕 瑟縮雪天
People were driven away, freezing in the snow
這種命太賤
This kind of life is too worthless

什麼世代
What kind of generation is this?
如此的虐待 (Voce ta louco cara?)
Such abuses (are you crazy man?)
那一端被欺榨 眾神不意外
That end is being squeezed and bullied, the gods are not surprised
只怪投錯胎
Could only blame [them] being born in the wrong lives
什麼世代 (Maravilha!)
What kind of generation is this? (Wonderful!)
如此的厚待
Such generous treatment
這一端在收割 又何止兩代
This end is reaping the benefits, it wouldn't be for two generations only
Todo o mundo!
All the world!

誰人在低端 忍受
Who are at the bottom end enduring?
出生一刻已馬上在枯朽
The moment [they] were born [they] immediately withered
誰又在高端 享受
Who are then at the top end enjoying?
隨便地呼吸都歡快地延壽
Breathing easily and cheerfully extending [their] lives
時代任演變 之後
After the era evolves
還是會依舊
[Everything] would remain the same

Até a próxima
To the next one

N.B. the lead singer of RubberBand is nicknamed "Number 6" and grew up in Macau (hence the Portuguese).

Other songs

There are many other songs which I like very much, but I can't translate them all. Here are their links and brief intro:

If you also like their songs, you can follow their IG or find more of their songs on Spotify. Thank you for reading.


Once you become a fan, you can try my Rubberband discography quiz :p

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Level 42
Mar 27, 2022
Ate a proxima. I already liked this band, although putting the accents (Até a próxima) would be a lot better ;) lol

Great blog overall!

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Level 66
Mar 27, 2022
Thanks MG. The original lyrics were copied from other online lyrics website (since I of course don't know Portuguese). Thanks for the corrections :)
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Level 42
Mar 27, 2022
Oh, I meant like if it the intention was to be in Portuguese, it would be like that. It wasn't a correction to you, but to the music itself lol :)