Few Chinese songs have stood the test of time quite like the red songs (红歌) made popular during the Cultural Revolution.
In the music issue of The World of Chinese magazine, out July 2012, writer Ginger Huang delves into red songs’ greatest hits and the reasons they persist as part of the nation’s songbook. Check out the songs the story references below.
See if you can identify the writings of Mao Zedong incorporated into the lyrics of the song “If You Don’t Strike Out, It Will Never Fall Down” (《你不打他就不倒》):
Profess your love of the party by singing along to Huang Ying’s “Azalea” (《映山红》):
Raise spirits through the declaration “When united, we are strong!” (《团结就是力量》)
Blow off some steam with a modern take on “The Liberated Serfs are Singing Songs” (《翻身农奴把歌唱》):
“I Produce Oil for My Motherland” (《我为祖国献石油》) has been sung by everyone from actual oil workers to these unlikely candidates:
And don’t be afraid to get cute with a song like “The Sky is Vast, the Earth is Vast, but Neither is as Vast as the Party’s Great Kindness”: (《天大地大不如党的恩情大》):
Non-native Chinese speakers have also been known to want in on the red songs action. Check out this cover of “Waves After Waves in Honghu Lake” (《洪湖水，浪打浪》), versus the (in)famous Hong Laowai (红老外) and his no-frills rendition of “Support the Communist Party” (《拥护共产党》).