“My Skating Shoes” – China’s Unlikely Internet Viral Hit Song

my-skateboard-shoes-chinese-viral-song

“My Skating Shoes” by Pang Mailang is arguably the most unlikely viral song to surface on the internet in China this year. Clearly sung without any professional music training, often times offbeat, and in a heavy Southern Mandarin dialect, the song quickly gained popularity and was retweeted on Weibo by many notable artists with over 500k views in just 3 days.

“My Skating Shoes” is a simple song about the story of a young man searching for his dream pair of skateboard shoes. The song has since evolved into a sort of diaosi (self-depreciating loser) anthem, where the themes of an ordinary man chasing his dreams resonated with many of the young migrant workers entering the big cities. Likewise, Chinese netizens also made numerous parodies and and covers of this song.

Lyrics (Original Chinese, Pinyin Romanization, and English Translation):

有些事我都已忘记
Yǒuxiē shì wǒ dū yǐ wàngjì
Some things I’ve already forgotten,

但我现在还记得
dàn wǒ xiànzài hái jìdé
but even now I still remember

在一个晚上我的母亲问我
zài yīgè wǎnshàng wǒ de mǔqīn wèn wǒ
that night my mother asked me,

今天怎么不开心
jīntiān zěnme bù kāixīn
“Why are you upset today?”

我说在我的想象中有一双滑板鞋
wǒ shuō zài wǒ de xiǎngxiàng zhōng yǒu yīshuāng huá bǎnxié
I told her I fancied a pair of skating shoes

与众不同最时尚跳舞肯定棒
yǔ zhòng bùtóng zuì shíshàng tiàowǔ kěndìng bàng
that are like no other, the most fashionable, and would be awesome for dancing.

整个城市找遍所有的街都没有
zhěnggè chéngshì zhǎo biàn suǒyǒu de jiē dōu méiyǒu
I’ve searched every street in the city and still can’t find it.

她说将来会找到的时间会给我答案
tā shuō jiānglái huì zhǎodào de shíjiān huì gěi wǒ dá’àn
She said one day I will find it, time will tell.

星期天我再次寻找依然没有发现
xīngqítiān wǒ zàicì xúnzhǎo yīrán méiyǒu fāxiàn
On Sunday, I searched again, but still could not find them.

一个月后我去了第二个城市
yīgè yuè hòu wǒ qùle dì èr gè chéngshì
A month later, I went to another city.

这里的人们称它为魅力之都
zhèlǐ de rénmen chēng tā wèi mèilì zhī dū
People here call it the city of lights.

时间过的很快夜幕就要降临
shíjiānguò de hěn kuài yèmù jiù yào jiànglín
Time quickly passed and it was getting dark,

我想我必须要离开
wǒ xiǎng wǒ bìxū yào líkāi
I thought to myself that I must leave.

当我正要走时我看到一家专卖店
dāng wǒ zhèng yào zǒushí wǒ kàn dào yījiā zhuānmài diàn
Just as I was about to leave I saw a specialty store,

那就是我要的滑板鞋
nà jiùshì wǒ yào de huá bǎnxié
there, those are the skateboard shoes I want.

我的滑板鞋时尚时尚最时尚
wǒ de huá bǎnxié shíshàng shíshàng zuì shíshàng
My skateboard shoes, so very fashionable.

回家的路上我情不自禁
huí jiā de lùshàng wǒ qíngbùzìjīn
On the way home, I could not contain myself

摩擦 摩擦
mócā mócā
Rub it, rub it.

在这光滑的地上摩擦
zài zhè guānghuá dì dìshàng mócā
Rub it on this smooth floor.

月光下我看到自己的身影有时很远有时很近
yuèguāng xià wǒ kàn dào zìjǐ de shēnyǐng yǒushí hěn yuǎn yǒushí hěn jìn
Under the moonlight I saw my shadow, sometimes far, sometimes near.

感到一种力量驱使我的脚步
gǎndào yī zhǒng lìliàng qūshǐ wǒ de jiǎobù
I felt a force moving my feet,

有了滑板鞋天黑都不怕
yǒule huá bǎnxié tiān hēi dōu bùpà
With my skateboard shoes I’m not afraid of the night.

一步两步一步两步 一步一步似爪牙
yībù liǎng bù yībù liǎng bù yībù yībù shì zhǎoyá
One step, two step, one step, two step, like a minion.

似魔鬼的步伐
shì móguǐ de bùfá
Like the steps of the devil.

似魔鬼的步伐
shì móguǐ de bùfá
Like the steps of the devil.

似魔鬼的步伐
shì móguǐ de bùfá
Like the steps of the devil.

摩擦 摩擦
mócā mócā
Rub it, rub it.

摩擦 摩擦
mócā mócā
Rub it, rub it.

我给自己打着节拍
wǒ jǐ zìjǐ dǎzhe jiépāi
I’m giving myself a beat.

这是我生命中美好的时刻
zhè shì wǒ shēngmìng zhòng měihǎo de shíkè.
This is the happiest moment of my life.

我要完成我最喜欢的舞蹈 在这美丽的月光下在这美丽的街道上
wǒ yào wánchéng wǒ zuì xǐhuān de wǔdǎo zài zhè měilì de yuèguāng xià zài zhè měilì de jiēdào shàng
I want to finish my favorite dance, under this beautiful moonlight, this beautiful street.

我告诉自己这是真的这不是梦
wǒ gàosù zìjǐ zhè shì zhēn de zhè bù shì mèng
I tell myself this is really not a dream.

一步两步一步两步 一步一步似爪牙
yībù liǎng bù yībù liǎng bù yībù yībùshì zhǎoyá
One step, two step, one step, two step, like a minion.

似魔鬼的步伐
shì móguǐ de bùfá
Like the steps of the devil.

摩擦 摩擦
mócā mócā
Rub it, rub it,

在这光滑的地上摩擦
zài zhè guānghuá dì dìshàng mócā
Rub it on this smooth floor.

摩擦 摩擦
mócā mócā
Rub it, rub it.

似魔鬼的步伐
shì móguǐ de bùfá
Like the steps of the devil.

似魔鬼的步伐
shì móguǐ de bùfá
Like the steps of the devil.

一步两步一步两步 一步一步似爪牙
yībù liǎng bù yībù liǎng bù yībù yībùshì zhǎoyá
One step, two step, one step, two step, like a minion.

似魔鬼的步伐
shì móguǐ de bùfá
Like the steps of the devil.

似魔鬼的步伐
shì móguǐ de bùfá
Like the steps of the devil.

似魔鬼的步伐
shì móguǐ de bùfá
Like the steps of the devil.

摩擦 摩擦
mócā mócā
Rub it, rub it.

在这光滑的地上摩擦
zài zhè guānghuá dì dìshàng mócā
Rub it on this floor.

摩擦 摩擦
mócā mócā
Rub it, rub it.

Parody version of the song: “My Excavator”:

Dramatic Reading of “My Skateboard Shoes”:

READ  'Father' by Chopsticks Brothers

Written by Joe

Joe is a documentary producer and journalist based in Shanghai

  • snowman8

    do people still sofa?

    • mr.wiener

      No.

    • Surfeit

      YES!

    • Amused

      mr. wiener got drunk and horked on the ‘smack sofa several years ago and since then they’ve replaced it with a couple of Lay-Z-Boys. He’s still a bit sensitive about it as he had to pay for them, so please don’t bring the sofa up again.
      Don’t hit me Wiener, I was just explaining the situation ;)

  • Jahar

    rub it, rub it…. yeah, this is about shoes.

    • Kai

      Heh, that translation suggests a misleading metaphor. The original Chinese word 摩擦 may be better translated as simply “friction”, and according to the Baidu Baike entry, apart from the actual friction of shoes on the ground, the interpreted metaphor is about the trials and tribulations of life, about how one grinds through life and how that shapes you or how you confront it. This is stuff on the Baidu Baike page for this song.

      “Rub it” works better to reflect what you see in the music video, though I suppose “friction, friction” could’ve worked too as a more translation with more metaphorical connotations of the lyric. Shrug.

  • Rick in China

    The funniest thing ever is – the government has entire CPC meetings about cultural influence and how they can “create” the next international influential/viral sensation, mystified at the fact that so many countries can, yet… they’re left copying other countries rather than other countries following China’s step for once. I’d be very interested to know whether this stupid video has any significant overseas spread..

    • biggj

      “I’d be very interested to know whether this stupid video has any significant overseas spread.”

      0% chance of that. lol

    • Kai

      I think you’re reading too much into this. There’s no indication whatsoever that this was the product of some coordinated government effort to create a viral internet sensation for soft power purposes. Joe says the singer is actually just some random guy from Taiwan. Yep, here it is: http://baike.baidu.com/view/14097189.htm

      This is at most something totally random that resonated with some people. It doesn’t seem right to use this as some sort of litmus test for something that has nothing to do with it.

      • Rick in China

        I’m not reading too much into this – you’re reading too much into my comment. I did not say that the government had anything to do with this video whatsoever, in fact, quite the opposite, I was making a point that the government is spending so much time effort and money trying to create their own state-sponsored viral/cultural sensations, meanwhile this dumbass came out of nowhere with no money and very little effort, apparently, and blows up.

        • Kai

          I’m sorry I misunderstood you. I read your last sentence in the context of everything before it, so I interpreted you as being interested if this video’s failure to spread overseas would reinforce your criticism of the Chinese government’s efforts earlier in your comment. I see now they are separate unrelated thoughts just in the same paragraph. Thanks for clarifying.

          I know the Chinese government has paid attention to how China can build soft power in general and looked at things like Gangnam Style for Korea, but I don’t recall anything about them actually setting out to “create” viral internet sensations. Do you have a source for that?

          • Rick in China

            Yeah – the meat of the paragraph and last observation/question was linked by the ‘funny thing is’ part – implication being it was funny to think that the Chinese gov’t has put so much effort into something that this kid accomplished with 1 stupid vid. I can see how it would be easy to misread, it was pretty poorly written. Anyways…

            Regarding source, yes, I remember seeing some report on State Council meetings where they discuss ways to create their own cultural sensations, music videos or whatever, and have funded a bunch of people to spend all of their time replicating people like michael jackson and lady gaga trying to figure out the ‘secret sauce’ that makes people explode internationally.. the whole cultural influence thing and viral internet sensations etc, all both funded and discussed at the state council level, I will do some digging see if I can find the reports.

          • Rick in China

            This is about one of the state-sponsored singers:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DARmV1bPC0

            article here: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-25910722

            Here’s something on a NPC conference and some other conference focusing on sorting out why korean dramas are popular and how to make Chinese shows popular too:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxOb41ImjkI

            I remember something on viral videos, but can’t find it right now.. but I think the above gives an indication at the clamber for soft-power via cultural influence that certainly has its place in top government discussions and funding..

          • Kai

            Thanks, I’ve read the BBC article but my I can’t get on VPN to watch the YouTube videos at the moment. I’ll try to do so later tonight when the GFW calms down.

            I’m aware of the Chinese government trying to expand soft power and putting resources towards that goal. I just haven’t read anything about them trying to do “viral sensations”.

            Since the etymology of “viral” traces to stuff becoming wildly popular online, I thought you were sugesting the Chinese government was trying to make viral internet sensations, and that didn’t sound quite like what I know of their efforts.

            They want to expand “soft-power” and recognize that “pop culture” is part of it. The problem I anticipate is that they might think they can “dictate” something to be popular or “make” something popular, when the better thing to do is simply bolster and support what is already popular or gaining popularity (ex. pandas, martial arts, rich history) making them portals or stepping stones into discovering other things about China or Chinese society. A good dose of self-deprecation would go a long way too.

            Like what I read in your BBC link, the preoccupation with presenting China as “benevolent”. I mean, that makes sense when you’re keenly aware of how foreign pop culture often paints you as malevolent. I get the instinctual response is to counter it somehow. But what country in the world is “popular” for “benevolence”? I don’t even think the US is, despite how many Americans might think that about their country. The soft-power of the US is in aspiration, not “benevolence”. There are tons of “benevolent” countries in the world. They don’t stand out for that. It’s retarded to try to make “benevolent” the central message of Chinese soft-power efforts.

          • Rick in China

            The links don’t demonstrate the effort for domestic ‘viral sensations’ so much I admit – but I mentioned that, I just recall something a little more specific that I can’t find or remember where I saw it – maybe it’s just an amalgamation I came up with and isn’t the case. The rest though, is amusing in of itself.. “Oh why oh why don’t people like our domestic products, lets throw random people and money at it and maybe we can solve it” is always fun to watch.

            For the benevolence factor – I agree it’s a dumb angle for China, especially given so many public stunts that most of the rest of the world views as aggressive — South China Sea, air defense zones or whatever, etc.. but as for any countries known and respected for benevolence – I’d argue that Switzerland and Canada both have pretty good reps as benevolent nations :D

          • Kai

            It’s a bit like the state-sponsored sporting/athlete system in my opinion. It isn’t completely stupid and it does produce some to even a lot of value, but a lot of things in the world just can’t be produced by fiat.

            Hah, my point about benevolence and soft-power is that “benevolence” is like being the “nice guy”. No one is gonna hate you, but how memorable and “attractive” are you gonna be? Of course, this is horribly oversimplfied, but I reckon you get my point. Cheers.

  • post.human

    No comparison to the wangrong skirt dance.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PlIuEYYbj4

  • Amused

    Oh jesus….
    Mods should warn people that its a non-American Asian dude trying to rap before anyone accidentally clicks on the vid :(
    Guy actually makes Vanilla Ice seem like a talented and street savvy performer.

    Side note: I’d pay good money to see a recording of this guy have the same kind of meeting with Suge Knight that V.I. had hahahaha

  • this is, without any reserve, greatness.

    that this dude talks about nothing substantial, or that artistic standards in china are set so low is besides the point.

    this does what eminem does; this doesn’t make him eminem, but it does make him a successful artist who can get his point across to a sympathetic audience.

    and with that, this guy is able to rip apart the facade of china and expose (to anyone who cares to look) the pain and insecurity beneath.

    • Bing

      this is what you got from this f**king song?
      fml.

  • someone has got to crack open the “excavator ” story, the inside jokes are making china more insular than the pre-opium war era

  • Alphy

    Did they block the song? Can’t see any of the videos.