Reporter Huang Qizhe

You may not have heard of "Model" and "The King of Comedy" that won Li Ronghao the professional music award, but now he must have experienced the "baptism" of his new song "Wumei Zi Sauce" - from online car hailing to street cafes to short video platforms, no matter what scene you are in, there is "your shallow smile is like Wumei sauce" as background music. Taking stock of the major platforms, the hot search around it extends from the cover of celebrity Internet celebrities to the discussion of "what does plum sauce taste like". On Douyin's short video platform alone, "Wumeizi Sauce" has been viewed more than 40 billion times. Even the sales of the same jam on shopping platforms have soared.

With such a popularity on the whole network, some people judged that it booked the "single of the year" in advance. However, some professional music critics and fans believe that it is just a "saliva song" that is inconspicuous in the record era. On a rating website, "Umeizi Sauce" only scored 4.5 points. Even, music critic Ding Taisheng directly denounced it as "vulgar and unbearable". In response to the tide of controversy, singer Wang Feng responded from the position of the creator: "The meaning and value are given by others and the times", and "the artist only records his current state of mind with creation".

Regardless of the position, Wang Feng is right about one thing, that is, the continuous and multi-dimensional discussion and controversy caused by the current "Wumei Zi Sauce" is obviously not what this relaxed and simple little love song itself can carry. Compared with criticizing and questioning a certain singer and a certain song, the heated public opinion actually implies another deeper concern - is the boundary between the professional creators and their well-produced works selected by the traditional recording industry increasingly blurred with the current online creators and short video divine comedy? And with the disappearance of the so-called professional "moat", under the control of the communication logic of short video algorithms, will the pop music scene become the world of "saliva songs"?

The obscured "Plum Sauce" spread timeline

"The thick local style mixed with the hot elements of the short video platform is coming to the face!" If it were not for the "poisonous tongue" comments of music critic Ding Taisheng, "Wumei Zi Sauce" would probably only be a "familiar" work that the public has heard but has no intention of delving into the level of the work and the motivation of the creator. And because of his "bombardment" coupled with straightforward lyrics and catchy melodies, "Wumei Zi Sauce" seems to be the result of the well-known singer-songwriter "bowing to the flow". In the video, Ding Taisheng believes that "Wumeizi Sauce" is "speculative" and that "[Li Ronghao's] early works were at least sincere in them, and now they are not even sincere."

"Such an evaluation is obviously 'taken out of context', and judging the current state of the creator based on the level of the song "Umeizi Sauce" is somewhat partial." Zhao Pu, a doctor of popular music research and associate professor at Hangzhou Normal University, gave his own judgment. You know, this song was actually released by Li Ronghao in November last year, and was subsequently included in his album "Across the Seas" released in December. After listening to the entire album, Zhao Pu commented: "Although the standard of the album is not as good as his earlier works, the overall is acceptable, and the quality of "Across the Seas" and "Mountains and Rivers" is good. Even if it is a cover of Beyond's "Lover", Li Ronghao has a personal guitar Solo that lasts for several minutes at the end, which shows his intentions. And although "Wumeizi Sauce" is not the title song of the album, it is by no means as 'vulgar and unbearable' as the Internet criticism. Especially considering that this is an album with a retro concept, and its overall atmosphere is permeated with a nostalgic atmosphere for Hong Kong film and Hong Kong music, inserting such a love song sketch in the position of the ninth track may also be seen as a setting to leave a soothing space for the listener. Zhao Pu analyzed that the popularity of "Wumeizi Sauce" is more like the popularity of the work played a role, in other words, the short video platform's absorption of works in the record industry that meet its communication preferences.

And combing the communication timeline of "Wumei Zi Sauce" can further confirm that, at least from the creator level, it cannot be determined that it is a song of professional musicians benchmarking the "short video divine comedy" communication logic "directional explosion", but more like a "public choice" spread through the Internet. Looking at the Baidu index, the "plum sauce" entry will start the search volume "climb" process until February 2 this year, which is the eve of Valentine's Day. And it wasn't until March 13, after the music critics' "shelling", that the peak of search really came. Judging from the "Tencent Music by You List" weekly list report card, "Wumeizi Sauce" also won the first time on the list from February 3 to 4 and "dominated" the list so far.

Is the algorithm "murdering" or the creation

Of course, whether intentional or unintentional, Li Ronghao must have obtained a traffic dividend from the explosion of "Wumeizi Sauce". The "World Tour Across the World" he started is currently sold out in Nanjing, Wuhan, Chengdu and other places. From a result-oriented point of view, the deeper worries of music critics and some music fans are about to come out - after "Wumeizi Sauce", will more elite creators in the record industry fully embrace the short video divine comedy?

It is undeniable that with the popularity of short videos, pop music has been more or less reduced to the BGM (background music) of videos. Subject to the exposure time of 15 seconds, those "saliva songs" with popular melodies, full emotions and bright rhythms are easier to stand out, and through the blessing of the "algorithm" recommendation mechanism, they can easily break the circle and obtain exponential traffic growth. As a result, a polarized situation has been formed in which "saliva" explosive models are more explosive and "boutique" is unpopular and cold. In terms of creative difficulty, it is much easier to complete a 15-second short video Divine Comedy BGM along the most pleasant melody trend of the public than the innovative creativity of the melody, the careful choice of the lyrics and the careful arrangement of the music.

Is this a deliberate "sinking" by the creators, in order to be compatible with a larger audience? A singer-songwriter who has undergone professional music training and experienced the record era, Wang Feng disagrees. He cited himself as an example, "I wrote 'Fly Higher' more than ten years ago, which is definitely not the highest level in my work, and the score should not exceed 80 points... But I wrote "Good Night Beijing" six or seven years before that, was I thinking about sinking? In his opinion, sometimes a creator wants to write something at that moment that is not so deep, without so much philosophy and depth.

Indeed, looking back at the record era, even the singer Jay Chou with "epoch-making" significance has had controversial works such as "Sunshine Otaku " and "Waiting for You to Get Out of Class". Not to mention, when the Internet was in the ascendant, many of the title songs selected by big record companies and senior DJs failed to become popular, but B-side songs became more and more brilliant beads through time precipitation.

"It's also normal that 'Umezi-chan' has caused such widespread controversy and concern, and many people are worried that the 'bottom line' of creation will collapse further." Zhao Pu said that he is optimistic about this, "The blurring of the boundary between professional singers and online musicians, record industry products and online divine comedy is not necessarily a downward collapse and landslide, but may also be borrowed and integrated with each other, so that the divine comedy is no longer 'vulgar' and 'bad', and the works of the record era are not so 'cold'." ”

Indeed, a warm little love song can set off such a big discussion, which may just confirm that the "algorithm" may be able to "hand-pick" the hit, but it is by no means so easy to monopolize everyone's musical aesthetics.