No award for 'Glory to Hong Kong'

December 05, 2019 10:42
Demonstrators sing the protest anthem "Glory to Hong Kong" during a lunchtime protest at the IFC Mall in Central on Nov. 26. Photo: Bloomberg

After Cantopop singer Eason Chan abruptly canceled his concerts last month due to the unrest in the city, we now have an announcement from Commercial Radio that it has shelved its annual music awards event that had been scheduled for Jan. 1.

The radio station, known for championing democracy and freedom of speech, apparently had no option but to follow the path taken by rival networks RTHK and Metro Radio in abandoning plans for music galas.

That leaves TVB as the only entity that is still pressing ahead with a music awards ceremony, for now.

The multiple event cancellations are certainly not because Hong Kong had no good songs in 2019. On the contrary, we can say there were some sure-fire winners that would have come on top, at least in the people's choice category.

The song that was heard most often on the streets this year was "Glory to Hong Kong”, which emerged from the anti-extradition bill movement and was often crooned in unison in almost every local shopping mall along with cries of “five demands, not one less".

Available in different music forms, the song composed by a musician under the pseudonym “Thomas dgx yhi” has become way more popular here than the official "March of the Volunteers".

Given what we saw in the District Council elections in terms of the public mood, it would be a reasonable guess that the new Hong Kong "national anthem" could have swept the music awards, thanks to the introduction of an online voting mechanism.

There is no way an organizer can control the result unless it decides to keep the song out of the selection list, just like how Beijing reserves the right of final say on who can run in the chief executive election.

And "Glory to Hong Kong" isn’t the only song that could have posed a headache to organizers who want to play safe. There are others, particularly "Human Talk" by Charmaine Fong, a new song that drew over 300,000 hits in two days after debut.

The song, which borrows a phrase from RTHK reporter Nabela Qoser who took on Carrie Lam at a news conference in July and demanded answers from the Hong Kong leader in plain language, makes a veiled reference to Aug. 31, when police launched a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters at the Prince Edward MTR Station.

There has been talk that five major local music labels had threatened to boycott the awards shows should any of these songs make it to the winners lists.

If the songs made it to the top of the awards, it would have caused huge embarrassment to the event organizers, and more particularly, to the Hong Kong government.

Well, they may be able to stop the annual music fanfare, but who can really stop the music? 

"For all of our tears on our land, do you feel the rage in our cries? Rise up and speak up! Our voice echoes..."

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EJ Insight writer