A music video featuring the Taiwanese vocal tradition of liam kua (唸歌), a form of ballad singing and oral storytelling, has captured a Red Dot Award in the 2016 Best of the Best category.
“What Are You Singing? (唸啥咪歌?)” is the brainchild of Yang Xiu-qing (楊秀卿), a designated preserver of national heritage honored with the title “National Living Treasure.” Born in 1934, Yang was a blind street performer who grew up to be Taiwan’s best-known liam kua singer.
The award-winning music video features three singers performing liam kua, accompanied by classic Chinese instruments such as the yueqin and daguangxian. Per liam kua tradition of transcribing myths and folk tales, the performance describes Nezha’s daring conquer conquest of the corrupt East Sea Dragon King.
The combination of the hilarious adlibbed lyrics with stunning visual design – a scrapbook of calligraphy, poster art, and street food – highlight all the elements that made liam kua popular and unique, leading the jury to state on Nov. 4:
This music video is utterly convincing because of its outstandingly refreshing look and enjoyable style, which remains entertaining over the entire length of the clip. The contrast between the characters and the handcrafted elements telling the story is truly humorous and of high quality – just like the contrast between the music, the different graphic styles, and the whole visualisation. Thus, it incorporates an overall excellent approach toward expressing this culture.
‘What Are You Singing?’