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Sia and the Sound of Music: Hong Kong rallies showcase satirical remixes

By Jerome Taylor

The ever-evolving soundtrack to Hong Kong’s summer of rage has been bolstered by three new songs that take satirical aim at the police — the most popular a remix of Australian singer Sia’s hit “Chandelier”.

Hong Kong has been rocked for more than three months by huge and sometimes violent protests pushing for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.

The movement represents the biggest challenge to Beijing’s rule since the international finance hub was handed back by Britain in 1997.

Throughout the rallies, music has played a crucial role.

In the early days the Christian hymn “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” and “Do you hear the people sing?” from the musical Les Miserables were the two most popular tunes sung by the defiant crowds.

Then earlier this month an anonymously-penned protest anthem called “Glory to Hong Kong” went viral, chanted at flashmob gatherings in malls, from the tops of some of the city’s best known peaks and at football matches.

But the latest numbers to rise to the top of the protest charts are aimed at making people laugh — and skewering the city’s police force who have become public enemy number one to those on the streets.

The most commonly-heard song in recent days takes Sia’s 2014 hit Chandelier, famous for its dramatic chorus, and replaces the lyrics with anti-police rhetoric.

“Bloody corrupt cops/Not responsible at all/Won’t even try to improve,” the chorus begins in Cantonese.

“Bloody corrupt cops, why?/How can they not apologise/Harming people’s children.”

Meme culture 

The song is a vivid illustration of how Hong Kong’s online community plays a huge role both in organising the largely leaderless protests and the meme-heavy culture behind them.

The Sia remix began life with an emotional and fiery speech in support of the police by Maria Cordero, a singer, actress and chef originally from Macau who is dubbed “Fat Mama” by her fans.

The speech was given in July to a large pro-police rally, part of a series of rallies by government loyalists where pro-China celebrities have been used to bolster support.

The Cordero speech was widely shared among both democracy protesters and police supporters.

But in recent weeks an anonymous person remixed her words to make it sound like she was condemning the police and then used auto-tuning software to bend her pitch to Sia’s “Chandelier”.

The track dropped online and an instant hit was born.

At recent rallies the song — titled “Fat Mama has something to say” — has become a new rallying cry, shouted at police by largely young crowds of masked protesters before inevitable clashes.

Another track that has proved popular uses the tune from Sound of Music’s “Do-Re-Mi”.

Sung in English, the lyrics take a popular protest slogan that is chanted on the streets and sprayed on walls.

“If we burn, you burn with us/Burn the popo (police) into dust/If we burn, you burn with us/Burn Chinazi until bust”.

The third song is sung to the tune of the traditional English nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down” and is particularly insulting towards the police, describing them as “dogs who beg” and “chickens who want to be hawks”.

Hong Kong’s protests were ignited by a now-abandoned plan to allow extraditions to mainland China.

But after Beijing and city leaders took a hard line, the movement snowballed into a much wider expression of rage at the local government and life under Chinese rule.


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Sia and the Sound of Music: Hong Kong rallies showcase satirical remixes