筷子兄弟 – 小苹果 Little Apple by the Chopstick Bros (English, 汉字 & pinyin lyrics)

This song has been so inescapable that I finally broke down and translated the lyrics. Our kids come home from preschool singing it, dolls that friends gave our kids sing it, we hear it in grannies’ ringtones, malls, motorbikes, those wretched looped advertisements that stores blast from speakers on the sidewalks, and of course public dance exercise groups (including this record-breaking 20,000-member dance group). Video below from YouTube. If you’re in China without a VPN, see it here.

Song: Little Apple
歌曲:小苹果 gēqǔ: xiǎopíngguǒ
Performed by: Chopsticks Bro.
演唱:筷子兄弟 yǎnchàng: kuàizi xiōngdì
Lyrics & Music: Wang Taili
作词/作曲:王太利 zuòcí/zuòqǔ: Wáng Tàilì

I planted a seed
我种下一颗种子 / wǒ zhòngxià yīkē zhǒngzi
It finally sprouted fruit
终于长出了果实 / zhōngyú zhǎngchū le guǒshí
Today is a great day
今天是个伟大日子 / jīntiān shì ge wěidà rìzi
Pluck down a star and give it to you
摘下星星送给你 / zhāixià xīngxīng sònggěi nǐ
Haul down moonlight and give it to you
拽下月亮送给你 / yèxià yuèliang sònggěi nǐ
Make the sun every day rise for you
让太阳每天为你升起 / ràng tàiyáng měi tiān wèi nǐ shēngqǐ
Become a candle and light myself
变成蜡烛燃烧自己/ biànchéng làzhú ránshāo zìjǐ
just to illuminate you
只为照亮你 / zhǐwèi zhàoliàng nǐ
Take my everything and offer it to you
把我一切都献给你 / bǎ wǒ yīqiè dōu xiàngěi nǐ
just so long as you’re happy
只要你欢喜 / zhǐyào nǐ huānxǐ
You’ve made my every tomorrow have meaning
你让我每个明天都变得有意义 / nǐ ràng wǒ měi ge míngtiān dōu biànde yǒuyì
Although life is short I’ll love you forever
生命虽短爱你永远 / shēngmìng suī duǎn ài nǐ yǒngyuǎn
Never leaving never forsaking
不离不弃 / bùlí bùqì

You’re my little, little apple
你是我的小呀小苹果儿 / nǐ shì wǒde xiǎo ya xiǎo píngguǒ
Loving you more is never too much
怎么爱你都不嫌多 / zěnme ài nǐ dōu bù xiánduō
Red little face warms my heart
红红的小脸儿温暖我的心窝 / hónghóngde xiǎo liǎn wēnnuǎn wǒde xīnwō
Lights my life on fire fire fire fire fire
点亮我生命的火火火火火 / diǎnliàng wǒ shēngmìngde huǒ huǒ huǒ huǒ huǒ
You’re my little, little apple
你是我的小呀小苹果儿 / nǐ shì wǒde xiǎo ya xiǎo píngguǒ
Like the most beautiful cloud on the horizon
就像天边最美的云朵 / jiùxiàng tiānbiān zuìměide yúnduǒ
Spring has come again and flowers are blooming on the hillside
春天又来到了花开满山坡 / chūntiān yòu láidào le huā kāimǎn shānpō
Planting hope will reap a harvest
种下希望就会收获 / zhòngxià xīwàng jiùhuì shōuhuò

Never feel you’re annoying
从不觉得你讨厌 / cóngbù juéde nǐ tǎoyàn
Love everything about you
你的一切都喜欢 / nǐde yīqiè dōuxǐhuān
With you every day is fresh
有你的每天都新鲜 / yǒu nǐde měitiān dōu xīnxiān
With you the sun is more brilliant
有你阳光更灿烂 / yǒu nǐ yángguāng gèng cànlàn
With you the night isn’t dark
有你黑夜不黑暗 / yǒu nǐ hēiyè bù hēiàn
You’re a white cloud and I’m a blue sky
你是白云我是蓝天 / nǐ shì báiyún wǒ shì lántiān
In spring wander with you among the flowering shrubs
春天和你漫步在盛开的花丛间 / chūntiān hé nǐ mànbù zài shèngkāide huācóng jiān
On summer nights accompany you to watch the stars twinkling
夏天夜晚陪你一起看星星眨眼 / xiàtiān yèwǎn péi nǐ yīqǐ kàn xīngxīng zhǎyǎn
At dusk in autumn linger with you in golden grain fields
秋天黄昏与你徜徉在金色麦田 / qiūtiān huánghūn yǔ nǐ chángyáng zài jīnsè màitián
When the winter snowflakes flutter you add even more warmth
冬天雪花飞舞有你更加温暖 / dōngtiān xuěhuā fēiwǔ yǒu nǐ gèngjiā wēnnuǎn

Patriotic Chinese Kindergarten Kungfu — lyrics & video for 精忠报国 by 屠洪纲

Our 4-year-old goes to an all-Chinese preschool, where I also teach. We’re the only foreigners. The 5 and 6-year-olds do this as a regular exercise routine:

It’s a song about complete devotion and loyalty to China, which in English could be “Dedication and Loyalty to the Country” or “Serve the Country with Utmost Loyalty”. The title is a reference to famous historical-mythical General Yue Fei’s tattoo. He was traitorously executed and posthumously has come to epitomize loyalty to China. The Wikipedia article is worth a read, as this song has all kinds of historical/cultural associations.

Here’s the mp3 and Chinese lyrics (mouseover for pronunciation!) with English translation (mostly someone else’s). Music videos here (youtube) and here (youku).

精忠报国 by 屠洪纲

The fire beacon rises, look toward the rivers and mountains of the north
Dragons’ puffs and horses’ neighs are like blows of a frosted sword
Hearts as boundless as the water of the Yellow River
Who defies the length and breadth of the past twenty years?
Wild hatred where my sword points
Countless brothers, loyal souls, bones buried in unfamiliar lands
What regret is it to die a hundred times protecting family and country?
Enduring sighs of regret, speechless, tears of blood fill the eyes
Horses’ hooves go south, the people look toward the north
Toward the north the grass yellows, dust flying up
I’m willing to guard this territory and re-claim the land
Grand China will make all sides bring tribute

Some interesting notes on this song here:

Many people in the west believe that Chinese are in general motivated by an irrational nationalism cultivated by the communist party to secure its political hold on the country. This is why some of the protests by Chinese nationals overseas have been labeled as “rebirth of the red guards”. Personally, I think this misunderstanding reflects a lack of knowledge about Chinese history, which in the thousand years past have been filled with foreign invasions and civil wars. We Chinese are peace lovers, but our own history has taught us that unification as a country, especially in the face of foreign threats has always been the prerequisite for a peaceful life.

This music video is by the singer Tu HongGang, who was trained as a Beijing opera singer, but turned into a pop singer in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The song is entitled 精忠报国, which translates to ‘dedication and loyalty to the country,’ or ‘serve the country with the utmost loyalty.’ The phrase by itself originates from the story of Yue Fei, “a famous Chinese patriot and military general who fought for the Southern Song Dynasty against the Jurchen armies of the Jin Dynasty. Since his political execution by the traitor Qin Hui, Yue Fei has evolved into the standard model of loyalty in Chinese culture.” According to legends, his mother tattooed these four characters across his back before he left home to join the army in 1122. More on his story can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yue_Fei

Note the first picture on the right, which shows the statue of Yue Fei, from the Yue Fei Mausoleum in Hangzhou. The four characters on his banner say, Huan Wo He Shan , or “Give back my rivers and mountains”.

I love the song (and the singer!) very much, I feel it echoes much of the patriotism which Chinese holds as part of our cultural identity.

More Chinese music (many with lyrics & guitar chords!):

Chinese New Year:



So I’m in this Chinese girl band…

I’m not just a Chinese preschool rockstar; I now have a band. A girl band. A Chinese girl band. A Chinese girl band composed entirely of preschool teachers. And we are not above using the electric piano’s preprogrammed auto-chording rhythm feature thingy.

Working for a Chinese company gives opportunities to perform — and I mean like song-and-dance perform — that you typically don’t get at the average North American job. For example, at the year-end banquet it’s common for every department in a company to put on some sort of performance. Lots of singing along to pop tracks at the very least. It’s actually more of an obligation than an opportunity; it means bad vibes if you cry off participating.

Chinese love karaoke (KTV). They practice beforehand, and when they go they’ll easily stay for four, five or six hours singing the cheesiest pop lyrics and melodies you can imagine. And the practice shows. Have whatever stereotype of mild-mannered, bespectacled bookworm Chinese you want, but you haven’t seen China until you’ve seen said bespectacled office drones rocking out in a KTV lounge like they are the Chinese incarnation of Whitney Houston. It’s not what you’d expect from the impressions and stereotypes that float around, but in my experience the average Chinese tends to be less inhibited than the average cripplingly self-conscious and cool-anxious, irony-plagued North American when it comes to public performance.

Our school has a New Year’s Show, a Children’s Day Show, and a Teacher Show — those are the one’s I’ve discovered so far anyway. And it’s normal for teachers and parents to be involved in a couple performances even for the kids’ shows.

So here’s the song and lyrics some of my coworkers picked to cover for the Teacher Show (performed for the parents and grandparents of our 200+ students) — our first and most likely final performance. :)

我相信 by 杨培安

(Better quality version here.)

想飞上天和太阳肩并肩 / xiǎng fēishàng tiān hé tàiyáng jiānbìngjiān
Want to fly up to heaven and be shoulder to shoulder with the sun

世界等着我去改变/ shìjiè děngzhe wǒ qù gaibiàn
The world is waiting for me to go change (it)

想做的梦从不怕别人看见 / xiǎng zuòde mèng cóngbù pà biérén kànjiàn
Want to have a dream and not fear that other people will see

在这里我都能实现 / zài zhèlǐ wǒ dōu néng shíxiàn
Here I can achieve all of this

大声欢笑让你我肩并肩 / dàshēng huānxiào ràng nǐ wǒ jiānbìngjiān
Laughing loudly let us be should to shoulder

何处不能欢乐无限 / héchù bùnéng huānlè wúxiàn
Wherever there’s not infinite joy

抛开烦恼 勇敢的大步向前 / pāokāi fánnǎo yǒnggǎnde dàbù xiàngqián
Throw out worries, go forward with brave strides

我就站在舞台中间 / wǒ jiù zhàn zài wǔtái zhōngjiān
I just stand in the middle of the stage


我相信我就是我,我相信明天 / wǒ xiāngxìn wǒ jiùshì wǒ, wǒ xiāngxìn míngtiān
I believe I’m me, I believe in tomorrow

我相信青春没有地平线 / wǒ xiāngxìn qīngchūn méiyǒu dìpíngxiàn
I believe youth has no horizon

在日落的海边,在热闹的大街 / zài rìluòde hǎibiān, zài rènǎode dàjiē
At the sun-setting seaside, on the bustling street

都是我心中最美的乐园 / dōu shì wǒ xīnzhōng zuìměide lèyuán
Both are the happiest paradise of my heart

我相信自由自在,我相信希望 / wǒ xiāngxìn zìyóuzìzài, wǒ xiāngxìn xīwàng
I believe in carefree freedom, I believe in hope

我相信伸手就能碰到天 / wǒ xiāngxìn shēnshǒu jiù néng pèngdào tiān
I believe you can stretch out your hand and reach heaven

有你在我身边 让生活更新鲜 / yǒu nǐ zài wǒ shēnbiān ràng shēnghuó gèng xīnxiān
Having you at my side makes life fresher

每一刻都精采万分,I do believe / měi yíkè dōu jīngcǎi wànfēn
Every moment is extremely splendid

Karaoke adventures:

Chinese songs to learn:

Traditional Chinese Christmas Songs: 《欢乐佳音歌》 & 《圣诞感恩歌》

A couple Christmases ago we shared mp3s of traditional Christmas songs that had been Chinese-ified. This year you get some genuine Chinese Christmas songs, as in songs written by Chinese in Chinese and in a Chinese style, rather than sounding like corrupted English songs. The first song is especially good for language students; it’s so repetitive that you only have to learn four lines.

I tried to find well-produced recordings of arrangements that would sound good to Western ears, but each link below fails on one or both accounts (this is not surprising for a lot of traditional Chinese music). But the point is that it’s a Chinese song anyway, so you get what you get, which in this case is 10000x tamer than the inebriated felines of Beijing opera.

Mouseover the Chinese below to see the pronunciation. My translation is veeery rough.

《欢乐佳音歌》 Joyous Tidings

#83 in the TSPM hymnal (赞美诗)
Listen: here and here.

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King
锡安全地报道救主已降临 耶稣基督甘愿卑贱救众人
Zion the whole earth announces the saviour has come,
Jesus Christ willingly humbly rescues everyone

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King
普世万民齐来传扬主降生 赐下救恩万众信徒蒙恩深
All the people in all the world, come spread the news that the Lord is born,
bestowing salvation, multitudes of believers receive profound grace

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King
信徒大家恭敬献上感谢心 天军同唱哈利路亚满天庭
All believers respectfully offer God thankful hearts,
sing hallelujah together with Heaven’s hosts filling Heaven

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King

《圣诞感恩歌》 Christmas Thanksgiving

#84 in the TSPM hymnal (赞美诗)
Listen: here and here.

耶稣来人间 神爱世人 / Jesus comes to earth, God loves the people of the world
主为救人类 道成肉身 / The Lord saves humanity, ‘The Word becomes Flesh’
天使唱赞歌 颂主下凡尘 / Angels sing praise, an ode to God who came to earth
神恩真浩大 比海还要深 / God’s grace is truly great, even deeper than the ocean

当年主降生 牧人闻讯 / When the Lord was born, shepherds heard the news
前往伯利恒 朝拜圣婴 / Went ahead to Bethlehem to worship the holy infant
归来乐无限 报告主降生 / Come back with unbounded happiness, reporting the Lord’s birth
全城都传开 基督已来临 / The whole city spreads the news, Christ has come

救主来世界 赐人和平 / The Saviour comes to the world, bestowing on people peace
马槽里安身 四周宁静 / In a manger taking shelter, all around is tranquil
我们感谢主 得闻此佳音 / We give thanks to the Lord, hearing these good tidings
效法三博士 献上一片心 / Imitate the Three Wisemen, offering up hearts of thanks

赞美主降生 万众欢腾 / Praise for the Lord’s birth, universal celebration
我们今得着 神子名分 / We now can have the status of God’s children
生活有盼望 从此享永生 / Life has hope, from now on enjoying eternal life
美满又幸福 全靠主鸿恩 / Blissful and blessed, completely depending on God’s great grace

The coworker who introduced me to these says that both are homegrown Chinese Christmas songs, though I think I hear some traditional Western hymn-i-ness in the second one especially.

Anyway, if you’ve got Chinese Christmas music, please share!

More Christmas music:

For your karaoke repertoire:

Chinese Song: 宝贝 (Baby) by 张悬 (Zhāng Xuán) — lyrics & guitar chords

This one’s for my sister, who just took her first baby home from the hospital today!

《宝贝 / Bǎobèi / Baby》

According to the internet, 张悬 Zhāng Xuán is an indie artist from Taiwan. Our Chinese teacher introduced us to this cute little pop lullaby so we could learn it for our daughter. 宝贝 means “baby”, but in the sense of “darling” or “little treasure.” The song also uses the term 小鬼,which literally means “little devil/demon/ghost” or “imp”, but it’s a cutesy term of endearment for a baby or small child. I’ve translated it “little rascal” in the lyrics.

One thing about this song is that it provides a contrast between sung and spoken Chinese. You don’t sing the tones in Chinese, but in this song she speaks the word for “baby” 宝贝 instead of singing it, so the tones come through.

If you want more info on Zhang Xuan and her music you can search for 张悬,Zhang Xuan, Deserts Zhang, Deserts Chang, or Deserts Xuan.

You can play the mp3 and follow along below, and download the guitar chords with lyrics in Chinese, English, and pīnyīn:

Guitar Chords & Lyrics

Download: Baobei.pdf (lyrics & guitar chords with pīnyīn/English cheatsheet).

Lyrics / 歌词:

耶~ 哒啦哒啦哒 / yÄ“… dā lā dā lā dā
yeah… da da da da da

[Verse 1:]

我的宝贝宝贝,给你一点甜甜 / wǒde bǎobèi bǎobèi, gěi nǐ yīdiǎn tiántian
My baby, baby, here’s a little something sweet
让你今夜都好眠 / ràng nǐ jīnyè dōu hǎo miàn
to make you sleep tight tonight
我的小鬼小鬼,逗逗你的眉眼 / wǒde xiǎoguǐ xiǎoguǐ, dòudòu nǐde méiyǎn
My little rascal, little rascal, making you make funny faces
让你喜欢这世界 / ràng nǐ xǐhuān zhè shìjiè
to make you like this world

[Chorus 1:]

哇啦啦啦啦啦我的宝贝 / wa lā lā lā lā wǒde bǎobèi
wa la la la la la my baby
倦的时候有个人陪 / juàn de shíhòu yǒu gerén péi
When you’re tired someone will be with you
哎呀呀呀呀呀我的宝贝 / āi yā ya ya ya ya wǒde bǎibèi
ai ya ya ya ya ya my baby
要你知道你最美 / yào nǐ zhīdào nǐ zuì měi
I hope you know that you’re the most beautiful

[Verse 2:]

我的宝贝宝贝,给你一点甜甜 / wǒde bǎobèi bǎobèi, gěi nǐ yīdiǎn tiántian
My baby, baby, here’s a little something sweet
让你今夜很好眠 / ràng nǐ jīnyè hěn hǎo miàn
to make you have a good sleep tonight
我的小鬼小鬼,捏捏你的小脸 / wǒde xiǎoguǐ xiǎoguǐ, niēniē nǐde xiǎo liǎn
My little rascal, little rascal, pinching your little cheeks
让你喜欢整个明天 / ràng nǐ xǐhuān zhěnggè míngtiān
to make you like all of tomorrow

[Repeat Chorus 1]
[Chorus 2:]

哇啦啦啦啦啦我的宝贝 / wa lā lā lā lā wǒde bǎobèi
wa la la la la la my baby
孤单时有人把你想念 / gūdān shí yǒurén bǎ nǐ xiǎngniàn
When you’re lonely someone’s missing you
哎呀呀呀呀呀我的宝贝 / āi ya ya ya ya ya wǒde bǎibèi
ai ya ya ya ya ya my baby
要你知道你最美 / yào nǐ zhīdào nǐ zuì měi
I hope you know that you’re the most beautiful

[End Chorus:]

哇啦啦啦啦啦啦耶~ 喔
wa la la la la la la yeah… whoa
耶~ 耶 喔~ 喔
Yeah… yeah whoa… whoa
哇啦啦啦啦啦我的宝贝 / wa lā lā lā lā wǒde bǎobèi
wa la la la la la my baby
倦的时候有个人陪 / juàn de shíhòu yǒu gerén péi
When you’re tired someone will be with you
哎呀呀呀呀呀我的宝贝 / āi yā ya ya ya ya wǒde bǎibèi
ai ya ya ya ya ya my baby
要你知道你最美 / yào nǐ zhīdào nǐ zuì měi
I hope you know that you’re the most beautiful
要你知道你最美 / yào nǐ zhīdào nǐ zuì měi
I hope you know that you’re the most beautiful

If know of any good Chinese kids’ music, please let us know!

P.S. – You can watch the music video on YouTube (with subtitles), Youku or Tudou.

More for your karaoke repertoire:

Karaoke Birthday Party!

For Jessica’s birthday we had a karaoke party with a bunch friends:

If you haven’t been to a good Chinese karaoke party yet, you’re missing out! Here’s some photos and fun video clips.

Piao Laoshi’s Korean boyfriend gives Jessica a “Happy Birthday Jessica!” shout out in the middle of his song, and elicits praise from some of the ladies who start chanting his name:

Liu Wei, Greg, Dingle and Zhou Jun give a heartfelt(?) rendition of Air Supply’s All Out Of Love:

Cute (they’re engaged):

Jessica got some cute stuffed cows as gifts, since 2009 is the year of the cow.

The cake says, “Happy Birthday, Lin Yi An” (生日快乐林怡安;shÄ“ngrì kuàilè lín yí ān). Yí-ān is Jessica’s Chinese name.

A banquet, baijiu & Bon Jovi (my first office party in China)

This makes two karaoke parties in a row where Bon Jovi has made an appearance in the form of a passionate, Chinese-accented rendition of “It’s My Life”.

I don’t know about office parties, because all the jobs I had in North America weren’t ever office party kind of jobs. Last night’s New Years party for the magazine and associated companies (about 80 people at a hotel banquet) was my first one. I sat next to the big boss at the international table, which had (including me): three Koreans, two Japanese, a Canadian, a Scot, a Chinese (the boss), and an American. The Koreans were fun, the Japanese were almost invisible, the Scot could really drink, and the American was considered masculine because she smoked (they told her so).

The Fun
So I don’t know how to compare this to the average North American office party. Do office parties in America involve nice banquets, door prizes, co-workers singing to karaoke tracks, fun balloon popping competitions, cute homemade videos of all the staff, and good food? They should; it was actually kind of fun. Do most people suddenly get up and leave, as if given some sudden, subtle signal? That was kind of weird, like all these happy-looking people were really just waiting for their first chance to split (I don’t think they really were).

The Booze
What about the booze? Do American office parties have endless beer, wine, and báijiÇ” (白酒)? You know, in a sad sort of way I’m actually thankful that East Asians are genetically predisposed to be weaker drinkers; it makes it a little easier to remain both polite (if the boss toasts you…) and un-inebriated over the course of an evening. I’m not a big drinker and I flat out refuse to get drunk, but I don’t mind doing my duty within those limits, so it’s convenient that the people whom I don’t want to offend will probably quickly reach the point where they won’t remember me avoiding all those extra shots anyway.

And what about an an ear-splitting karaoke after-party that involves revolutionary songs from elementary school, Bon Jovi, and an impromptu, drunken, yet sincere pre-national anthem speech about loving communism by a guy who’s made it rich in China’s current economy? I have to admit, if they don’t do karaoke after-parties in America then they are seriously missing out. Chinese karaoke parties are fun. It’s loud and crowded and rènao (热闹) the way Chinese like it. Everyone gets to have fun singing their hearts out and no one really cares if they don’t sound that good (this is also true of alcohol-free karaoke parties).

I left a little after 11pm (pregnant wife at home and all) after doing my obligatory KTV duty (it’s always satisfying to get the surprised looks when a lÇŽowài sings in Chinese) but before they made good their threat of making the lÇŽowàis sing Hotel California (I don’t know why it’s always Hotel California). After a half-hour flat-tire bike ride home, I discovered Jessica still had friends over. But the holidays end tomorrow morning at 8:05!