Funny Chinese songs by genius laowai for language learners

You can download the mp3s, song lyrics with hanzi, pinyin, and English translation, and even the guitar chords if you want from Albert at LaowaiChinese.net, the guy who wrote Chinese 24/7. Great for language learners and funny. Here’s his latest Chinese ones:

Follow the links and you’ll also find English language songs about jiǎozi and his Chinese bicycles. The humour may or may not translate into Chinese too well, owing mostly to the fact that Mainlanders seem to have a much higher tolerance for clichéd phrases.

Nothing to My Name / 一无所有

“Nothing to My Name” has been called the biggest hit song in Mainland Chinese history. If you’re only gonna learn one Chinese karaoke tune, this is the song. And if you’re looking for a poignant time to learn it, this is the month.

一无所有 / yīwúsuǒyǒu / Nothing to My Name

If you’re in Great Firewalled Youtube-blocking Mainland China you can see the video here (thanks, Ryan!). Listen to the mp3 here:

[audio:yi wu suo you.mp3]

一无所有 channeled the disillusionment, anxieties, hopes, frustrations, complaints, and rebellion of urban Mainlanders coming of age during the ideological thaw of 80’s China. They adopted it as their generation’s anthem. Even many 90’s kids (in their mid to late 20s now) still connect strongly to this song.

Cuī Jiàn (崔健) is often called “the father of Chinese rock.” He first performed “Nothing to My Name” on a TV talent show in 1985 and then at a major concert in 1986. China’s urban young people ate it up. This month marks the 20th anniversary of a third significant performance, but I’ll let you follow the links at the end of this post to discover the more dramatic and sensitive details about the significance of Cuī Jiàn and “Nothing to My Name.”

Lyrics & Guitar Chords
From the beginning people interpreted the ambiguous lyrics in different ways (politics, sex, love & economics). But it was no secret that the lyrics were intended to contain both national and critical meanings. Cuī Jiàn’s concerts, in which he’d perform with a red blindfold over his eyes and play other songs with more pointed lyrics, left little doubt as to the targets of the critique. Those ‘targets’ responded by banning Cuī Jiàn from playing any large, significant performances for over 15 years.

The vagueness of the lyrics leaves this song open to a wide variety of English renderings. The English translation below is based on the translation found at cuijian.com (see other English renderings here and here). The title literally could mean “having nothing” or “not having anything.”

The guitar chords in the download aren’t perfect, but close. If you catch any mistakes on that or the translation, let me know! Download: YiWuSuoYou.pdf

You can play the video or mp3 above and follow along here:

我曾经问个不休 / wǒ céngjīng wèn gè bùxiū
I’ve asked (you) endlessly

你何时跟我走 / nǐ hé shí gēn wǒ zǒu
When will you go with me?

可你却总是笑我 / kě nǐ què zǒngshì xiào wǒ
But you always just laugh at me

一无所有 / yīwúsuǒyǒu
(with) nothing to my name

我要给你我的追求 / wǒ yào gěi nǐ wǒde zhuīqiú
I want to give you my dreams

还有我的自由 / háiyǒu wǒde zìyóu
(and I) also have my freedom (to give you)

可你却总是笑我 / kě nǐ què zǒngshì xiào wǒ
But you always just laugh at me

一无所有 / yīwúsuǒyǒu
(with) nothing to my name

 

噢 你何时跟我走 / ō nǐ hé shí gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! When will you go with me?

噢 你何时跟我走 / ō nǐ hé shí gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! When will you go with me?

 

脚下这地在走 / jiǎo xià zhè dì zài zǒu
The ground beneath my feet is moving

身边那水在流 / shēnbiān nà shuǐ zài liú
The water beside me is flowing

可你却总是笑我 / kě nǐ què zǒngshì xiào wǒ
But you always just laugh at me

一无所有 / yīwúsuǒyǒu
(with) nothing to my name

为何你总是笑个没够 / wèihé nǐ zǒngshì xiào gè méi gòu
Why is your laughter never enough?

为何我总要追求 / wèihé wǒ zǒng yào zhuīqiú
Why will I always search?

难道在你面前我永远 / nándào zài nǐ miànqián wǒ yǒngyuǎn
Could it be that before you I’ll forever…

是一无所有 / shì yīwúsuǒyǒu
…have nothing to my name?

 

噢 你何时跟我走 / ō nǐ hé shí gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! When will you go with me?

噢 你何时跟我走 / ō nǐ hé shí gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! When will you go with me?

[instrumental break]

脚下这地在走 / jiǎo xià zhè dì zài zǒu
The ground under my feet is moving

身边那水在流 / shēnbiān nà shuǐ zài liú
The water beside me is flowing

脚下这地在走 / jiǎo xià zhè dì zài zǒu
The ground under my feet is moving

身边那水在流 / shēnbiān nà shuǐ zài liú
The water beside me is flowing

 

告诉你我等了很久 / gàosu nǐ wǒ děng le hěn jiǔ
(I’m) telling you I’ve waited a long time

告诉你我最后的要求 / gàosu nǐ wǒ zuìhòu de yāoqiú
(So I’m) telling you my final request

我要抓起你的双手 / wǒ yào zhuā qǐ nǐde shuāngshǒu
I want to grab you by the hands

你这就跟我走 / nǐ zhè jiù gēn wǒ zǒu
And then you’ll go with me

这时你的手在颤抖 / zhè shí nǐde shǒu zài chàndǒu
This time your hands are trembling

这时你的泪在流 / zhè shí nǐde lèi zài liú
This time your tears are flowing

莫非你是正在告诉我 / mòfēi nǐ shì zhèngzài gàosu wǒ
Can it be that you are telling me

你爱我一无所有 / nǐ ài wǒ yīwúsuǒyǒu
You love me with nothing to my name?

 

噢 你这就跟我走 / ō nǐ zhè jiù gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! Now you’ll go with me

噢 你这就跟我走 / ō nǐ zhè jiù gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! Now you’ll go with me

[guitaaarrrr soooloooo!!!]

脚下这地在走 / jiǎo xià zhè dì zài zǒu
The ground under my feet is moving

身边那水在流 / shēnbiān nà shuǐ zài liú
The water beside me is flowing

脚下这地在走 / jiǎo xià zhè dì zài zǒu
The ground under my feet is moving

身边那水在流 / shēnbiān nà shuǐ zài liú
The water beside me is flowing

 

噢 你这就跟我走 / ō nǐ zhè jiù gēn wǒ zǒu
Oh! Now you’ll go with me

When a Chinese friend in Tianjin downloaded a bunch of songs for me to learn, he made a point to highlight this one. Our Chinese textbooks have a whole lesson devoted to it, and when our teachers taught it they said it represents their generation. But I have a couple teenage Mainlanders in my ESL classes here in Vancouver, and none of them have even heard of this song or Cuī Jiàn. Of course, that’s not the only significant 20-year-old piece of Chinese history that they didn’t know about, so I assigned them some homework involving Google. Still waiting to see how they respond.

More about Cui Jian and Nothing to My Name:

More songs for your KTV repertoire! (with lyrics and guitar chords):

Liang Shanbo & Juliet — 梁山伯与茱丽叶

Because laowais can never learn enough karaoke hits! (More songs here.)

梁山伯与茱丽叶/ liáng shānbó yǔ zhù yīngtái
Liang Shanbo & Juliet

The title and lyrics of this song allude to two classic tragic romances: Romeo and Juliet and the “butterfly lovers” Liáng Shānbó and Zhù Yīngtái, often considered Romeo and Juliet’s ancient Chinese equivalent.

Like the Shakespeare play, Liáng Shānbó (the guy) and Zhù Yīngtái (the girl) want to get married but the families won’t cooperate so they end up dying. But unlike Romeo and Juliet, the butterfly lovers become butterflies and fly away together after Zhù Yīngtái jumps into Liáng Shānbó’s tomb while on the way to her arranged marriage. Obviously, such a story was destined for the Chinese pop charts.

Here’s the KTV version, lyrics and guitar chords below:

Here’s the mp3:

[audio:liangshanboyuzhuliye.mp3]

Lyrics & Guitar Chords

Download: LiangShanboYuZhuliye.pdf (lyrics & guitar chords with pinyin/English cheatsheet).

歌词 / gēcí / Lyrics (the English is a little overly literal):

我的心想唱首歌给你听 / wǒde xīn chàng shǒugē gěi nǐ tīng
My heart wants to sing a song for you to hear

歌词是如此的甜蜜 / gēcí shì rúcǐ de tiánmì
The lyrics are so honey-sweet

可是我害羞我没有勇气 / kěshì wǒ hàixiū wǒ méiyǒu yǒngqì
But I blush, I don’t have the courage

对你说一句我爱你 / duì nǐ shuō yījù wǒ ài nǐ
To say to you the words ‘I love you’

为什么你还是不言不语 / wèishénme nǐ háishì bù yán bù yǔ
Why do you still not speak?

难道你不懂我的心 / nándào (shì) nǐ bùdǒng wǒde xīn
Could it be you don’t understand my heart?

不管你用什么方式表明 / bùguǎn nǐ yòng shénme fāngshì biǎomíng
No matter whatever style you use to make it clear

我会对你说我愿意 / wǒ huì duì nǐ shuō wǒ yuànyì
I will say to you I’m willing

千言万语里 / qiān yán wàn yǔ lǐ
A thousand words in ten-thousand languages

只有一句话能 / zhǐyǒu yījùhuà néng
Only these few words are able

表白我的心 / biǎobái wǒde xīn
To vindicate my heart

千言万语里 / qiān yán wàn yǔ lǐ
A thousand words in ten-thousand languages

只有一句话就 / zhǐyǒu yījùhuà jiù
Only these few words

能够让我们相偎相依 / nénggòu rang wǒ men xiāng wēi xiāng yī
Are enough to let us cuddle each other close

Chorus:

我爱你 你是我的茱丽叶 / wǒ ài nǐ nǐ shì wǒde zhūlìyè
I love you, you’re my Juliet

我愿意变成你的粱山伯 / wǒ yuànyì biànchéng nǐ de liáng shānbó
I’m willing to become your Liáng Shānbó

幸福的每一天 / xìngfú de měiyī tiān
Happiness every single day

浪漫的每一夜 / làngmàn de měiyī yè
Romantic every single night

把爱 / bǎ ài
Hold love…
永远 / yǒngyuǎn
…forever
不放开 / bù fàngkāi
Don’t let go

I love you

我爱你 你是我的罗密欧 / wǒ ài nǐ nǐ shì wǒde luōmìōu
I love you, you’re my Romeo

我愿意变成你的祝英台 / wǒ yuànyì biànchéng nǐde zhù yīngtái
I’m willing to become your Zhù Yīngtái

幸福的每一天 / xìngfú de měiyī tiān
Happiness every single day

浪漫的每一夜 / làngmàn de měiyī yè
Romantic every single night

美丽的爱情 / měilì de àiqíng
Beautiful romance

祝福着未来 / zhùfú zhe wèilái
Blessing the future

Related Posts:

Even in Death I’ll Love — 死了都要爱

If the last song we did on here got 11 out of 10 for cheesiness, this one gets at least that for melodrama. Our teachers sang it last time we went to karaoke.

死了都要爱 / Even in Death I’ll Love / sǐle dōu yào ài

Shin (信乐团) is a popular rock band from Taiwan. “Even in Death I’ll Love” (死了都要爱) is a popular Korean song (“Love Over 1000 Years”) that Shin rewrote in Mandarin, thereby giving young internet-surfing East Asians yet another opportunity to argue about whose culture is derived from whose. The lead singer, A Shin (阿信) — who, as you’ll see in the video, is apparently quite the diva — left the band last year to launch a solo career in which he’s shamelessly selling out to the pretty-fied Asian pop market with syrupy Josh Groban covers. I have two Shin CDs; they sound like Evanescence with an 80’s rocker streak, and list Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin among their musical influences.

Here’s the epic live version (lyrics and guitar chords are below):

And here’s an mp3 of the album version:

[audio:SiLeDouYaoAi.mp3]

Lyrics & Guitar Chords

Download: SileDouYaoAi.pdf (lyrics & guitar chords with pinyin/English cheatsheet). The guitar chords match the album version; the live version is in a different key.

歌词 / gē cí / Lyrics (the English needs help):

把每天当成是末日来相爱 / bǎ měitiān dàngchéng shì Mòrì lái xiāngài
Take every day like it’s the last day you have to love each other
(“Take every day like Armageddon has come to your love for each other”)

一分一秒都美到泪水掉下来 / yī fēn yī miǎo dōu měi dào lèishuǐ diào xiàlai
Each minute and each second are all so beautiful that tears fall down

不理会别人是看好或看坏 / bùlǐ huì biérén shì kàn hǎo huò kān huài
Ignore whether other people will think good or think bad

只要你勇敢跟我来 / zhǐyào nǐ yǒnggǎn gēn wǒ lái
So long as you’re brave follow me

爱不用刻意安排 / ài búyòng kèyì ānpái
Love doesn’t need a meticulous plan

凭感觉去亲吻相拥就会很愉快 / píng gǎnjué qù qīnwěn xiāng yōng jiù huì hěn yúkuài
Rely on feelings, go kiss and embrace each other, it’ll be delightful

享受现在别一开怀就怕受伤害 / xiǎngshòu xiànzài bié yì kāihuái jiù pà shòushānghài
Enjoy the present, don’t open up your heart and then just be afraid of injury

许多奇迹我们相信才会存在 / xǔduō qíjì wǒmen xiāngxìn cái huì cúnzài
Many miracles we believe there can be

Chorus:

死了都要爱 / sǐle dōu yào ài
Even in death I’ll love

不淋漓尽致不痛快 / bù línlíjìnzhì bú tòngkuài
Not joyful unless totally unrestrained/saturated

感情多深只有这样 / gǎnqíng duō shēn zhǐyǒu zhè yàng
Only deeper affection can in this way

才足够表白 / cái zúgòu biǎobái
be enough to vindicate

死了都要爱 / sǐle dōu yào ài
Even in death I’ll want love

不哭到微笑不痛快 / bù kū dào wēixiào bú tòngkuài
Not joyful unless crying until smiling

宇宙毁灭心还在 / yǔzhòu huǐmiè xīn hái zài
The universe perishes but my heart is still here

End Chorus:

穷途末路都要爱 / qióngtúmòlù dōu yào ài
Even at the end of the road with no way out I’ll love

不极度浪漫不痛快 / bù jídù làngmàn bú tòngkuài
Not joyful unless extremely romantic

发会雪白土会掩埋 / fā huì xuěbái tǔ huì yǎnmái
Hair will turn snow white and dust will bury

思念不腐坏 / sīniàn bù fǔhuài
but longing doesn’t rot

到绝路都要爱 / dào jué lù dōu yào ài
Even at the dead end road I’ll love

不天荒地老不痛快 / bù tiān huāngdì lǎo bú tòngkuài
Not joyful unless heaven and earth pass away

不怕热爱变火海 / búpà rèài biàn huǒ hǎi
Not afraid for passion to become a fiery sea

爱到沸腾才精采 / ài dào fèiténg cái jīng cǎi
After love comes to a boil it’s magnificent

If you didn’t like this one, the last song was much cuter. If you see a problem with the translation (the chorus especially needs help) please point it out in the comments.

More for your karaoke repertoire:

Fast, facially-challenged tigers (song!)

Apparently every kid in China knows this song Jessica found it at ChinesePod.com. Usually people don’t use the tones when they sing in Mandarin, but this guy sings with the tones on the third time around. Careful, though. If you listen too many times, it will be stuck in your head for days.

[audio:two%20tigers%20song.mp3]

两只老虎, 两只老虎
跑得快, 跑得快
一只没有眼睛
一只没有耳朵
真奇怪!真奇怪!
Two tigers, two tigers
Running fast, running fast
One has no eyes
One has no ears
Really strange, really strange!
liǎng zhī lǎo hǔ, liǎng zhī lǎo hǔ
pǎo de kuài, pǎo de kuài
yì zhī méi yǒu yǎn jing
yì zhī méi yǒu ěr duo
zhēn qí guài! zhēn qí guài!

* * *

Some versions use tail (尾巴 – wěi ba) instead of ears (耳朵 – ěr duo). I’m gonna learn to write it so I have some “poetry” to write next time we visit the guys who write calligraphy with water on the sidewalk in the park.

Enhance your KTV repertoire!