Monday, April 03, 2006

Bootleg Music

Just as there are bootleg movies in Shanghai, CDs are also bootlegged. It's not quite the same, though. Sure, CDs aren't all that difficult to find, and a lot of the stores that bootleg movies will also have bootleg CDs available for sale. On the other hand, it's obvious that CDs are an afterthought to bootleggers. Mostly I think pop music simply isn't all that popular in Shanghai, whereas movies are extremely popular.

Take the example of Faye Wong. She's long been one of the top Chinese pop stars. I'm hardly expert, but I consider her album Restless the best Chinese pop album. Still, good luck finding any of her music besides greatest-hits collections, or the last 3 or 4 albums she's released. Despite her popularity, most of her back catalog is only available as a set, or isn't even in print!

The bootleg CDs available reflect this. Mostly you'll find the latest bubble-gum pop from Hong Kong, or the most mainstream of American music, the type Americans have gotten tired of long before I arrived in China: Kenny G, Celine Dion, etc. Perhaps the reason (and the relief) for this is music is largely downloaded off the Internet. Even major search engines, such as (heavily owned by Google), will offer services like a MP3 search engine. It's hit-or-miss, but you can often find even relatively obscure American songs.

Sometimes the bootleg shops will have a few CDs that seem worth getting, but just by chance. So I admit I was surprised (and even delighted) to run across a cool CD shop in Shanghai.

It's a little out-of-the-way, even relative to my out-of-the-way apartment. It's on the shopping street of Tianmu Lu, which is kind of interesting for being a pretty busy place, even though (as far as I know) it's not near any Subway or Train Station or something that would bring a lot of people there.

It has both movies and DVDs inside. Strangely enough, the shop will sell both legitimate and bootleg editions of the same movie. The music selection is more interesting. Like the Velvet Underground or not, a music store needs to have the Yellow Banana somewhere, to be considered any good.

It can even get a little obscure. Bootleg-only albums by major acts such as the Smashing Pumpkins were there, as were Frank Black's solo albums. Kim Deal is cooler, and the Breeders are on the right. Also pictured is Sun Kil Moon's and the Cocteau Twin's discographies. On the other hand, by no means is this an Amoeba's, or Jelly's - massive record stores where you might find anything, whether it's in print or not. It's more a small shop with an interesting but slipshod collection of good albums.

The bootleg movie selection is pretty good, but very expensive by Shanghai standards - $.90 to $1.50 for a single DVD! Strangely enough, the bootleg CDs are even more expensive than that, going for $1.50 to $2.00. On the other hand, these are basically exact replicas of what you'd find in a legitimate CD store, aside from a few typos and such. Whereas, the bootleg DVDs are pretty obviously bootleg DVDs.

1 comment:

dave-o said...

Cocteau Twins rule!!