In my last entry I wrote about Wednesday’s concert and I said that the band I liked the best was 花儿 (the Flowers). Since writing that post I have gone out and bought their latest CD and given it a good listen. What to say? Hmmm…

At the concert, Flowers was certainly the band with the most energy and enthusiasm. They have quite a few fast-paced songs. I haven’t heard their earlier stuff, but listening to this new CD, I think it would be a mistake to think of this band as “punk,” even if it’s only in the most poppy adolescent bubble gum way, like Sum-41 or MXPX. The music on the new CD, 我是你的罗密欧 (“I’m your Romeo”), could probably be best described as fast-paced pop, with some sappy ballads thrown in as well for that broader appeal (the Chinese are all about the ballad).

The article Brad linked to mentioned that the Flowers have toned their sound way down in order to make more money. I don’t suppose I can begrudge them that. This is a group of Chinese kids without much education who are making a living on their music (although it’s questionable how much of the music is really “theirs” now). That’s pretty impressive. In part, the music takes me back to high school, going to $4 punk shows put on by high school bands like Speed the Minnow. Speed the Minnow definitely rocked a little harder, though. (They also didn’t make any money or sell out, which is probably why the band no longer exists.)

Forgetting the whole ideal of “Chinese punk” for a second, I think that if the Flowers are simply a small part of a trend toward faster paced music, it’s progress of some kind. (No modern society’s music can stall in “ballad mode” forever, right? RIGHT?!?)

My favorite song on the CD is definitely “陪你去“. It’s probably the “hardest” of anything on the CD. The song is basically a fun little ghost story. The funny thing is, before looking at the lyrics I had thought the singer was saying “over and over again” but according to the lyric sheet he’s saying, “apparition apparition creep.” Nope, I can’t hear that at all.

So I think it’s safe to say I was a little disappointed by the CD, although in retrospect, this is probably exactly what I should have expected. What was most shocking was the photos decorating the CD. Allow me to give you a progression.

An older picture of the Flowers (during their “punker” days, I imagine):

the flowers

The Flowers as we saw them at their latest show, more or less:

the flowers

The Flowers as they appear on their latest CD (and these pictures aren’t the worst ones):

the flowers

Do I even need to suggest where this frightening trend is going…??

not the flowers

(Note the pants on boy-o in the blue there. …shudder…)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. thank heaven for Jimmy Eat World and Yellowcard.

  2. Damn, John! I love these posts where you introduce Chinese pop music from your American perspective and offer mp3 files. A blog that did only this would be a big success, I think.

    (I like all your other posts too.)

  3. In a country where reasonably tough guys call The Backstreet Boys rock n’ roll, I suppose that selling out is a little more devestating to a punk band than it is in the US.

    And I think that Speed the Minnow opened for a band in Orlando once. The name sounds really familiar.

  4. Da Xiangchang Says: October 9, 2004 at 7:31 am

    Why do Chinese boy bands all look like they’re auditioning to be in some rich homo’s male harem? I’ve never seen such effeminate posers in my life. Even their name’s homo. “Flowers”?!! Why not just call themselves “Inviting Butts” and be done with it!

  5. John, um, last April for our annual Spring Break buying session, wasn’t it you that convinced me to buy the white spandex/blue/yellow flowered tight pants? You got the lavender ones and I got the white ones. Don’t you remember?

    • Wilson
  6. I’m not impressed with even some of the older stuff by the Flowers. Too bland and poppy for my taste.

    Have you ever heard of Catcher in the Rye? Similar stuff but a bit more quirky. I got their second album back in 2000 and it’s pretty good. Don’t know if they did anything since then.

  7. Actually, listening to it again it sounds more like “ovary, ovary gray” than “over and over again.”

  8. Alaric,

    I might do it more often, except that not much Chinese music catches my attention.

  9. The MP3 sounds very like the British Boy Band (that play their own instuments!) “BUSTED” TM

    Although I did kind of bop to it, so who knows what that says about me….

  10. Their first CD, “On the Other Side of Happiness” (幸福的旁边), was pretty good, but they were always very poppy punk. Haven’t heard any of their newer stuff, but judging by the photos, it must be gaytastic.

  11. Anonymous Says: October 10, 2004 at 9:11 am

    I left china 7 years ago, never went back:(
    it is funny now I get some new music trend in china from an American:)
    keep going, John…
    feeling ‘old’ when I listen to this song, it sounds nothing similar to my ‘generation’:P. it is pretty good.


  12. This post and the last one are awesome.

    Recently I came across to “Second Hand Rose” (二手玫瑰). It’s a rock band that sings with a very heavy dong bei accent. Not sure whether you have heard of them? I really like their music. It’s a mixture of rock and folk music. If you’re interested, I can send you a mp3 by them (sorry my webhost doesn’t allow mp3s).

  13. Hehe. Aren’t you going to respond to Wilson’s comment John? When are you going to model those pants for us?

  14. Andrea – The Second-Hand Roses are awesome. I have a few of their mp3s up at . I confess to having a weakness for Dongbeihua and errenzhuan ballads, but they’re just a fun group.

  15. I’m sorry to say but the last pic is not THE FLOWER, but THE FLOWER 4, most chinese call them F4, a very disgusting boy group, like BSB or Westlife.

    Didn’t you notice that they were not the same guys?( a german once told me that to him most chinese look the same¡­¡­maybe it’s true£©

    so you must have bought a pirate cd then¡¡:£ð

  16. laney,

    Text. Read it.

    “Do I even need to suggest where this frightening trend is going…??”

  17. Da Xiangchang Says: October 11, 2004 at 12:56 pm

    F4’s even more homo than The Flowers. I remember watching their crappy soap opera Meteor Shower, and shaking my head. Guys who spend that much time on their hair are definitely heterosexually suspect. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being homosexual. Gay people should definitely have all the rights, including marriage rights, as straight people. But I often wonder if some Chinese pop stars know how incredibly gay they look. They should dress themselves in skirts. They won’t look any less gay than they do now, and at least they’ll be original.

  18. I’ve listened to some earlier albums of the Flower. It’s a lot more edgier and punkish than their recent works. You’re right, they definitely tuned it down for the mass appeal of the general public. Less guitar and drums, and more keyboard and synth. But definitely give their earlier work a try before you form your overall opinion on this band.

  19. Kikko man Says: October 21, 2004 at 1:41 am

    Has anyone mentioned “creamy boys”? That’s the odd term used for that “slightly”(understatement) effimanent yet still desirable guy that so many Chinese chicks like. These guys are so “creamy”.

  20. Give me some Speed the Minnow, Jesuit, Gaither style

  21. Hi there,

    I was in a band, the Diphthongs, and we use to play with Speed the Minnow back in my high school days.

  22. Lothar,

    I was at one or two Dipthongs shows in Tampa!

  23. anyone know where i can find the music video for the Flowers’ song on the 1st track of their newest CD? been looking all over for it but i cant find it

  24. Speed The Minnow at S.P.O.T. man, oh, and what about 99 cents? Or early explosion or Blank Face, Urine Luck, MFR, Living Proof, Jeremy Gloff, Jen Shamro, JDWW, or So Far No Good….nice eh? Shows at Tarantula and olde ybor square, Sweeter Charity, Pizza n Subs, The Punk House (ect.) A.D.D.

  25. The Flowers are great but what is the mandarin name for them?

  26. I think you need to live in china for awhile to appreciate this band. I do enjoy them, especially compared to most popular chinese music these guys rock. I think if you haven’t lived in China your comment means nothing.

  27. I’m a teen still, soon to be twenty in a couple of days still. I found one of The Flowers CD’s in an Asian store in America. Mostly because I’m learning Chinese and I like the music, no comments on the looks.
    So how is it like to live in China to those who are American?

  28. as C DOG says,your comment without true and clear vision on THE FLOWERS is no meaning.
    One of the band’s member married a pretty girl recently(23th,July),the others have their girl friends.How can someone think them homo?Funny~~
    About “flowers”,is quote a Chinese idiom (saying children are the flowers of the nation )as their name,you know they were still schoolboy when they first appeared on the screen,15 years old ,certainly should be called “children”.isn’t it?
    And,they always act like a young independent and brave boy,carrying a positive inspiration to people,so no one in China linked “cream” to them.

  29. Luna,
    once there was a famous Japanese rock bank named Luna Sea.
    One of their songs ,,too pretty to find a word to describe.
    The lead singer’s name is Ryuichi.
    I write just for no reason.Wish you saw these imformation.
    And maybe I can tell you something about “how is it like to live in China to those who are American?”

  30. Who in the world else has seen Urine Luck? I used to watch their band practices. What a blast from the past.

  31. Anyone know where to get Speed the Minnow cd or music DL?

  32. “it’s got a beat, you can dance to it” (name the reference!)

    some people want fun, some want drugs, everybody wants sex — so what’s your soundtrack?

    Flowers / Flowers4 decide what to make, you decide what to buy

    I think they’ve got an enjoyable sound, so did Cydi Lauper, so did the Archies and so did a lot of early 60’s garage bands that I won’t name because you wouldn’t recognize them. I don’t care if a band wears tutu’s and carries AK-47s — if I like the sound.

    BTW, I’m in the middle of a 3 year job in Beijing, and I’m still looking for the Chinese band to rival Die Toten Hosen (Deutschland).

  33. Hey!

    I went to china 2 years ago and bought “Im Your Romeo” and its mad good. I cant find any way to buy any of there stuff now though and I really would re-buy this album (lost the disc, only on the ipod) and theyve released more since. Any ways i could find it?

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