Zhang Qiang: Amber in the 1980s

  China News Weekly reporter / Li Jing

  Published in the 1050th issue of "China News Weekly" magazine in 2022.7.4

  In an ordinary seven-seater commercial car, Zhang Qiang corrected her Cantonese pronunciation while listening to music. In a few days, she will perform the Cantonese song on the stage of "Riding the Wind and Waves".

The car was full of people, including her husband and manager Xian Guokun, as well as assistants and security personnel.

"I'm hungry..." The assistant muttered in the back seat, "Order food, order it right away, order it when it arrives! Let's see what you want to eat." Zhang Qiang heard this and was busy making arrangements.

  "Sister Qiang is a kind person, and there are not so many things." The band DJ Lu Shuo told "China News Weekly" that he has collaborated with many singers, and many people have made the employment relationship with the band very clear, and eat alone , Order box lunches for the band members, Zhang Qiang has always dined with the band, calling the band "his own team".

Standing on the stage of "Riding the Wind and Breaking the Waves", she said to Na Ying, "Just call me Zhang Qiang, Qiang Qiang, Qiangzi, whatever."

  A typical Beijing girl, people around Zhang Qiang say this, although she was born in 1967 and is 55 years old.

Lu Shuo had only known Zhang Qiang for five or six years, but he felt that Zhang Qiang was probably like this when she was young, just like she had an explosive head and sang those disco songs.

  Zhang Qiang has unexpectedly become an amber of the times. Today, when the outside world has undergone great changes, it still retains the unique luster of the 1980s.

"Where are you from?"

  Watching Zhang Qiang rehearse was a joy. She and the band were happy, shaking their heads together, even though the rehearsal hall was a basement, and it was a little weird.

Zhang Qiang Pingshun's hair was held behind her ears by two large clips. The explosive head during the performance was all wigs. She prepared several wigs, which were of different lengths and colors.

Today, the hairstyle she loves no longer needs to toss with her real hair, unlike in 1985, when perms could only go to "quadruplets" and even needed a letter of introduction, her mother played the role of hair stylist .

  That year, Zhang Qiang was about to release her first album. She happened to see Barbra Streisand in a magazine. Streisand's "explosive" hairstyle immediately attracted her. There was no professional plastic perm at home. Zhang Qiang and her mother put Chop the chopsticks into pieces, curl the hair, squeeze the rubber band, pour the Wellabao cold perm shampoo, and it really looks like that after the perm. Fortunately, her hair is easy to set, and one perm can last for many days, after all, until the first time. It was only two years ago that she had mousse hairspray.

  On the cover of her first album "Tokyo Night", Zhang Qiang wore an exploding head, a big red sweater printed in English, and a headband of the same color. Most of the album selections were completed by herself, and she sang overseas at that time. The most popular English and Japanese songs.

Whether the cover outfit or the music content, in the context of the time, it was incredible.

Her aesthetics far surpassed that era. Many years later, Zhang Qiang told China News Weekly that this was probably due to the environment in which she grew up.

  Zhang Qiang lived in the courtyard of the Central News and Documentary Film Studio since she was a child, and ran around with her mother who was a violinist in the New Film Orchestra.

Next to Xinying is Beiying, and there is a surveying and mapping bureau in the middle. Zhang Qiang goes to elementary school in the courtyard of the surveying and mapping bureau. After school every day, she either goes to the Beiying Cinema to watch the background wall of art paintings, or sneaks to the leaders of Xinying Factory to review the film. , waiting to see the latest movies and documentaries that will be introduced.

In her childhood impression, the dark clouds on the Beiying set wall were the same as the real ones, and the children were standing below, so small.

  Zhang Qiang also likes to run to the office of the editor-in-chief of the New Film Studio, where there are many foreign film materials and magazines, and Western singers and actors who cannot be named, their clothing and lifestyle point to a person who Zhang Qiang does not know. familiar world.

"I remember a female star who looked like a leopard and was very beautiful. They sat in the bathtub and took pictures. The bathtub was full of bubbles, and there were people wearing bikinis and riding bicycles, and their hair was blowing up." This memory is brought up today. , Zhang Qiang's eyes are still bright.

  The yearning for beauty and romance seems to be an instinct. Once Zhang Qiang saw a lover kissing in a romance film, she thought the picture was too beautiful, she went home and practiced in front of the mirror, and when she went to school, she practiced against the wall with her textbook. , the classmate asked her: "What?" She said, "I practice kissing."

  The New Film Orchestra has to record for various films, TV, documentaries, and feature films. The orchestra often has foreign records as internal materials. Zhang Qiang's mother will transcribe the latest music. These songs, which are very different from the domestic music at that time, are her earliest songs. Music enlightenment.

At that time, Korean and Japanese channels could be received on the shortwave radio from time to time. Zhang Qiang would tune the radio when she had nothing to do. One day, an English song "hit" her, and the strong rhythm made Zhang Qiang involuntarily twist. She got up and twisted for a while. She felt that the sweater on her body was heavy. She took off the sweater and continued to twist until the music ended. Zhang Qiang stood there, as if "the feeling of a lover leaving", she hurriedly went to pull the radio again, Sadly no more.

It was not until a long time later that Zhang Qiang knew that it was Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean", and the music genre was called disco.

  I went to middle school and entered the 1980s. Although materials were still scarce, floral skirts and wedge shoes appeared in shopping malls. Earrings were still available in arts and crafts stores in Wangfujing. "Relationship." Then with the second-hand clothes, Zhang Qiang can dress up like the magazine.

Her mother is also skilled, and she often makes skirts for her in imitation of the styles in magazines. Zhang Qiang has become a popular figure in the school, and she is often intercepted on the street. In the early 1980s, boys in Beijing talked to girls they never knew. It's not a bad thing to come and make friends.

Once in the canteen, a person saw Zhang Qiang dressed in a fashionable manner, and said, "There is a dance at my house on the weekend, come on."

  In the 1980s, the underground family dance was still a semi-illegal act, and it was a category that the public security department resolutely banned, but young people needed music and free social interaction.

"If you're caught, you have to go." Zhang Qiang said that once she was at a dance and was reported by the "Little Feet Detective Team". The film police came and asked them to stand in a row against the wall and asked, "Where are you all from?"" No one dares to tell the truth." Looking back now, Zhang Qiang only finds it interesting, but in fact, the police let these young people go home after persuading them to educate them.

Next time there is a dance party, Zhang Qiang will not miss it.

  Gradually, some friends Zhang Qiang knew began to take her to public dance parties held in Beijing Exhibition Hall, Beijing Hotel, Diplomatic Apartments and other places, where the most fashionable young people in Beijing and so-called "foreign guests" gathered. It's all disco.

The youth of that era were particularly interested in foreign cultures. Besides disco, Zhang Qiang also listened to other music, but none of them could beat the attraction of disco to her.

  She learned the violin from her mother since she was a child, and has a unique and good voice. Zhang Qiang decided her life direction in middle school - to be a singer, and she wanted to be a disco singer.

  In 1983, Zhang Qiang, who was still a freshman in high school, signed up for the Beijing Haidian District Young Singer Competition. Zhang Qiang, wearing big earrings and a bat shirt, sang the song "Assorted Vegetables" by the famous American band Carpenter while twisting on the stage.

Hu Yue, a singer who participated in the Qing Song Competition many times and was a contemporary of Zhang Qiang, later recalled that in the first half of the 1980s, the Qing Song Competition had strict requirements on the singer's demeanor and even the height of the arms raised. Shaking randomly on the stage.

The results of Zhang Qiang's competition can be imagined. Some judges told her that she sang very well, but she could not get the ranking.

  The second year I participated in the CCTV Youth Song Competition, and the result was the same, but the opportunity did not make Zhang Qiang wait too long.

In 1985, an old classmate of Zhang Qiang’s mother when she went to the Conservatory of Music heard that Zhang Qiang sang very well, and introduced that Yunnan Audiovisual Publishing House was looking for someone to record some songs that young people like to listen to. Let Zhang Qiang try it. .

"Whoops! Are you disco?"

  After the rehearsal, Zhang Qiang led the band, assistants... A mighty group of people went to dinner, the restaurant was not low-grade, maybe because she was worried about the small quantity, Zhang Qiang ordered a dozen dishes until everyone was full of food. The dishes are still coming.

Someone asked, "Can I retire?" Zhang Qiang said, "I've ordered all the points, what to retire, retire, eat!"

  Zhang Qiang is not a stingy person, maybe it has something to do with her teenage fame. For the recording of her first album "Night in Tokyo", Yunnan Audio and Video Publishing House gave her 1,400 yuan.

Because I think she sings well, I negotiated to record another one, and gave her a total of 9,000 yuan for the two.

At that time, the monthly salary of the Chinese was still in double digits, and the two albums made Zhang Qiang almost become a "ten thousand-dollar household".

  One year before Zhang Qiang's album was released, with "Swallow Dance, Swallow Dance, One Song Comes One Love", the earliest TV commercial that became popular all over the country, the number of recorders in China exceeded that of radios for the first time.

Almost in sync with the popularity of the tape recorder, Zhang Qiang's album swept the whole of China.

  "Tokyo Nights" was sold out as soon as it hit the market.

This box of albums sold 2.5 million copies. After that, Zhang Qiang released albums such as "Shy Girl" and "Saturday" non-stop. The sales of "Shy Girl" alone reached 4.2 million copies.

Twenty years later, Jay Chou created a sales myth and won the title of "Qilixiang", which sold 2.6 million copies in the mainland.

  Wang Qian, Ph.D. from the Institute of Pop Music, University of Liverpool, UK, and post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology, Tsinghua University, was in Sichuan at the time. He remembered that he once took a train from Sichuan to Beijing. No matter where he stopped on the way, Zhang Qiang was placed on the platform. Or Teresa Teng's song.

Almost overnight, Zhang Qiang became popular all over the country.

  In the mid-1980s, the original pop music in mainland China was the "northwest wind" represented by "The Loess High Slope". Those grand and vigorous voices still inherited the aesthetics of collectivism.

The straightforward happiness and sadness in Zhang Qiang's songs are personal small and warm emotions.

The free and unrestrained voice in her voice is different from Teresa Teng, who is as popular as her contemporaries. Disco is a serious import from the West. Young people who have been isolated from the outside world for too long can't wait to embrace disco. Disco is not music for the ears. To some extent, it belongs to the body.

  Wang Qian remembers that when young people listened to Zhang Qiang's songs and danced to disco, big lapel shirts and fingerless thunderbolt gloves were essential equipment. He told China News Weekly: "Zhang Qiang and the disco she sang are modern. , not only the liberation of identity and desire, but also the liberation of materialism.” It can be said that it was Zhang Qiang, who made people rediscover themselves and feel freedom, and her singing became unique and became a mark of the times. An orphan of the era.

  In the two years from 1985 to 1986, Zhang Qiang released a total of 19 albums.

However, because her image and musical style were too avant-garde, in that era when party singers were the mainstream, she could not appear on the TV that symbolized authority, and could only sing the youth that young people had nowhere to put in one tape recorder.

Once a well-known songwriter came to her door and wanted to write a song for her, as long as she sang the songs of these authors, she could be accepted at parties and on TV.

  But Zhang Qiang couldn't stand the songs they wrote - "Two eyes are shooting, two pairs of eyes are heavy - He (play)" "Where are the friends who carry the guitar, I will dedicate the flowers to you..." Zhang Qiang said to them: "Oh! Are you a disco?" The answer is usually, "I am also a disco" "If we play the drums, it is a disco".

  Recalling those so-called "disco", Zhang Qiang couldn't help but laugh, "It's super ugly. I'll just say, you guys don't understand disco, that's not what disco is like, I can't sing." Seeing her outspoken rejection of big names, her mother was anxious You have to stab her in the back in the back.

  Zhang Qiang admits that she is too straight and can't be well-rounded. On the one hand, she doesn't like the kind of people who act like an artist, and on the other hand, she has a worry-free life. superior".

"Beijing children, even if you don't do anything, you can't freeze if you're hungry, so you dare to push things around, don't want this or that." Zhang Qiang pondered, if she was a North drifter, living in the basement and eating instant noodles, encountering such a situation A master, you will accept whatever you give, not only accept it, but also respect it.

  To this day, her temper has not changed. She always tells the truth and can't control her mouth. She chats with the "sisters" of "Riding the Wind and Waves" in the dormitory, and she can tell how much money the show team gave.

To find a door-to-door activity, the key is to look at two points: a sense of security and happiness.

A Weibo posted by Zhang Qiang said: Happiness is the most precious thing in life.

She said that she only liked to make small money all the time, and making big money made her afraid. Isn't it good to eat so brilliantly and so brilliantly?

She doesn't like to eat too good things. At the dinner table, she likes to eat barbecued pork, fried buns, and spicy shrimp... I hate those concept dishes the most. I put a few in the middle of a big plate, surrounded by a pile of smoke, "eat it. The mouth is light and squeamish." Too pretentious.

  She was not willing to pretend, so she missed the opportunity to participate in the party and get a top spot on the mainstream stage, although in 1986 the US "Times" interviewed her and rated her as the third most popular singer in the world, ranking No. The fourth is Teresa Teng.

Zhang Qiang is the first mainland Chinese artist to be reported by Time Magazine.

  "Walking acupoints" is a memory shared by Zhang Qiang and contemporary singers.

She followed the famous acupoint head Guo Chuanlin through the acupoints. Once, she walked acupoints with Liu Xiaoqing. She performed 7 shows a day, with an average of 3 hours. She didn't sleep at night. The next group of spectators came in again.

Once Zhang Qiang finished singing, the audience boiled over and began to throw steel pegs into the venue, like a rain of silver light.

She and the accompaniment each picked up a hat and steel pike. The accompaniment was called Zhou Xiaoou. A few years later, he formed the band Zero.

  Zhang Qiang said that she never had a common language with the rock circle, but she could feel that Luan Shu, Ding Wu, Gao Qi, and Chang Kuan, the later lead singers of the band, all showed their talents.

Once, Luan Shu sang a song written by herself at her house. Zhang Qiang said to him, this song is good, you will be successful in the future, just wait.

  In 1987, Guo Chuanlin, who took Zhang Qiang through the cave, created the Black Panther Band. Chinese pop music is about to open a new chapter, but Zhang Qiang chose to study abroad this year.

The reason is very simple. Zhang Qiang, who recorded 4 albums in one month, felt that it was shoddy, and the things she took out had too many flaws.

Sometimes she doesn't feel good singing and wants to re-record it, but the producer turns around and turns off the machine and says, "What's wrong? Isn't this good?"

  Just like when she rejected the "masters" who came to her door, she didn't want to feel wronged to make music. Music was supposed to bring her happiness, especially disco, and she couldn't make it into a bad thing.

"Don't ask me what a disco is"

  The performance site at the Changsha Station of the tour was full of people. They danced and shouted to Zhang Qiang's singing. Almost every song was a chorus, no less than the performance of any young "Idol".

Most of these fans are born in the 1995s. For example, A Zi, who does design work, grabbed the ticket as soon as she opened the ticket. The first time she heard about Zhang Qiang was in her freshman year. In 2013, Zhang Qiang cooperated with the new pants band. Released the album "Don't Ask Me Anymore What is Disco".

  After Zhang Qiang returned from studying abroad, she tried to make a comeback. In the 1990s, she received a signal from the outside world—the times had changed, and disco was no longer popular. She recorded "The Crooked Moon", but she immediately found that she had gone astray, no With disco, she is no longer happy.

Therefore, Zhang Qiang chose to return to the family, get married, divorced, and remarried. Fortunately, both marriages allowed her to live comfortably. In those years, she had little contact with the society. She was like a survivor of the 1980s, still " Very axis" embraced his disco music dream, and his throat was itchy, so he rented a recording studio at his own expense and went in to record a few paragraphs.

  In the days when Zhang Qiang was dormant, disco did not disappear, but became popular entertainment in the form of disco and disco with the development of business.

According to statistics at that time, the number of commercial dance halls in Shanghai was 52 in 1985, increased to 310 in 1990, and 1,336 in 1996. Among them, the "JJ" large discotheque opened in 1992 was the most popular, attracting one thousand to two people every day. Thousands of customers.

Two years later, Beijing JJ Disco Plaza, Letterman Disco Plaza, and NASA Disco Center, several entertainment venues purely based on disco dancing, have become the most fashionable places for young people in the capital.

In the 21st century, electronic music sub-types such as techno and house, which have gradually developed with disco as nutrients, have differentiated into more vertical and niche electronic music clubs.

  In 2006, the new trousers band, which has been obsessed with the fashion culture and music style of the 1980s, released the album "Dragon Tiger Rendan", which recalled the complex of the 1980s.

This album was called "a successful retro marketing" by music critics. In the MV, Peng Lei and Pang Kuan wore Plum Blossom brand sportswear that symbolized the 1980s and stepped on the shoes, which triggered the earliest national tide movement, and nostalgia gradually gradually. Becoming a consumer type, disco, as an important part of retro aesthetics, has once again returned to the public eye.

  Wang Qian, a Ph.D. from the Institute of Pop Music at the University of Liverpool, observed that since around 2010, disco has become popular again in major cities across the country. Those high-end dance halls and nightclubs regularly hold disco nights.

In addition to the effect of "cultural nostalgia", Wang Qian believes that the return of disco has something to do with the essence of disco.

  Disco was born in the circles of blacks, Latinos and sexual minorities in New York and Philadelphia in the 1960s, and then swept the United States. At the beginning of its birth, its core value was an artistic tool for the voice of minorities and for freedom.

Wang Qian believes that the younger generation growing up today is different from the people in the 1980s. They are not attracted to disco in order to get out of the isolation, but they have opened their eyes to discover the origin and essence of disco, so they should take this music territory. grab it back.

  When young people rekindled their enthusiasm for disco, Modern Sky signed a contract with Zhang Qiang, with Peng Lei and Pang Kuan as producers, and released the album "Don't ask me what disco is again". Music critic Zhang Xiaozhou once commented that this piece is based on The album with the theme of nostalgia is "a classic project in the history of Chinese pop music". It is not so much Zhang Qiang's reminiscence of the 1980s, but more like the imagination of young people in the new century for the 1980s.

  This imagination is a success, Zhang Qiang has gained a group of young music fans, and once again has the ability to dialogue with the present.

The viscosity of young music fans is quite high, which makes Zhang Qiang's tour full, and makes the most popular variety shows see her value.

Zhang Qiang's agent Xian Guokun told "China News Weekly" that "Riding the Wind and Waves Season 2" and "Singer" have all come to look for them before, but they have not agreed. First, Zhang Qiang's character of telling the truth is not suitable for collective life. In addition, she felt that she would lose every game because she didn't have the energy to fight and didn't like "rolls".

But Xian Guokun felt that whether it was for the new songs that he collaborated with young bands on the album over the years, or for the tour to build momentum, he should still participate. From 2020 to 2021, Zhang Qiang released 9 original albums, and waited until the third season of "Riding the Wind and Waves" "At the time of the invitation, Xian Guokun persuaded Zhang Qiang to "coax and deceive".

  Zhang Qiang's work contact is basically handed over to her husband Xian Guokun, as long as she meets the two requirements of security and happiness that she said, she doesn't worry about other things herself, except for work, she watches the children and cooks at home.

She really knows how to cook. When the keyboard player mentioned that the fried chicken was not cooked, she immediately instructed: "Use a low heat, wrap it in tempura powder, and use the smallest heat, otherwise the outside will be cooked and the inside will be bloody."

  The relatively simple sun and moon in a vacuum protected her to some extent.

Zhang Qiang feels that her life is good, but she is just pursuing what she loves, and the times have always needed her.

One of Zhang Qiang's fans once wrote: (Zhang Qiang's singing) Like everything in its infancy, brand-new and undamaged development, it has been preserved very well, produced by the times but not destroyed by the times .

  A friend said to her that the two contradictory words "a young man" and "a late bloomer" were unified in Zhang Qiang.

Her wish for her life is very simple, that is, "when she is 80 years old, she can still sing and twist."

  "China News Weekly" Issue 24, 2022

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