1950s Chinese actress, singer and superstar Grace Chang (葛兰 Ge Lan) really deserves a post that is devoted entirely to herself, but I’m going to start here with just one song.
Recently, I spent a rather enjoyable morning watching Grace Chang clips on YouTube. My favourite is 我要你的爱 I Want Your Love. It’s a Chinese and English cover of a popular song of the time, I Want To Be Your Baby, first originated by Louis Jordan. Not only is the song bold and feisty–rather like Grace’s screen persona–it’s ridiculously catchy.
First, Grace sings the call-and-response part in Mandarin, then effortlessly sashays her way through what is essentially the rap part of this song, which is in English to boot. Her diction is absolutely impeccable in this. When does she ever take a breath?!
The video below features Grace’s vocals, but does not feature Grace herself. The clip is from the Tsai Ming Liang film “The Hole”, a post-apocalyptic musical of Taipei. I haven’t seen the film myself, but after watching this clip, I may have to.
There’s also a partly Shanghaiese(?) version of the song by Taiwanese singer Mavis Fan 范晓萱. This is fascinating. The song begins first in Mandarin, then in English, then goes into Shanghaiese at about the 1:00 mark.
Added bonus: In Japanese! with Izumi Yukimura, who Wikipedia calls “one of the three most popular female singers in the early postwar Japan.” Izumi’s version differs from Grace’s in that she begins in English and the fast part is in Japanese.