21 July 2018
Singer Don Li has surprised himself and the public by making a sudden comeback. Photo: YouTube
Singer Don Li has surprised himself and the public by making a sudden comeback. Photo: YouTube

Let’s talk (only) about Don Li this Lunar New Year

Chinese culture has a lot of taboos for the Lunar New Year.

Avoid mentioning anything negative or asking young people “When will you give lai see [get married]?” or young couples “When will you receive lai see [have a baby]?”.

This year, the word “Occupy” is also forbidden at the once-a-year family reunion, because of its political sensitivity.

No one should begin a discussion about whether it was right for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to receive HK$50 million from an Australian company or to help a tycoon donate US$50 million to a Sweden-based medical university that recently admitted Leung’s son as a research fellow.

It is also not a good idea to talk about the plans of Leung Chai-yan, Leung’s daughter, to star in a locally made movie. No one would want to be blamed if she cuts her wrist again.

But perhaps the film’s male lead, Don Li Yat-long, won’t be off-limits.

Many might ask, “Who is this guy?”

Li, 33, is a Hong Kong singer and actor from the Emperor Entertainment Group’s stable. He was a finalist in the city’s Talent Show 2002 when his good looks suggested a promising career.

However, his road to stardom was bumpy until he casually uploaded his messily arranged cover of the song Silly Girl on YouTube on Jan. 22, three days before his birthday.

He sang the same song 12 years earlier in his last TV performance.

What Li did differently this time was sing it in a weird crying tone, punctuated with a crazy scream.

The YouTube audio clip, decorated only with an old photo of the singer, got more than a million hits in a week.

Immediately, Li came under the spotlight and was chased by dozens of entertainment news reporters.

He was invited to take part in a movie, sing on music shows and do live interviews.

This may be the best birthday present Li has ever had.

But luck comes unexpectedly, and continuously.

On a recent late-night talk show on TVB, he said the toughest time in his life was making about HK$100 a day cleaning windows in Beijing.

The host, a graduate of Cornell, an Ivy League university in the United States, responded, “Making HK$30,000 a month wasn’t that bad.”

As a result of the host’s mistake in arithmetic, Li went viral on internet forums for the second time in three weeks.

Some say Li deserves the exposure, as his crying tone expresses men’s desperate feelings when in love, while others say his overnight success shames the record industry, which overemphasizes perfect music arrangements and pretty faces.

While we may not care about how the music industry will develop, Li’s sudden comeback has a simple message for us – never give up, as opportunities will emerge unexpectedly.

(Cantonese only)

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Contributor at EJ Insight

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