Songs with a protest-related theme were among the most viewed local YouTube music videos in Hong Kong this year, with the orchestral rendition of protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong topping the video-sharing site’s chart.
The rousing performance features black-clad musicians, wearing gas-masks and helmets, performing and singing as smoke billows. Dramatic images of the pitched battles between protesters and police are spliced in. The video has had 3.6 million views since its upload on September 11.
The song – which speaks of struggle, solidarity and freedom – quickly became one of the unofficial anthems of the city’s protest movement, which began against a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be deported to mainland China, among other regions that Hong Kong does not have such an agreement with.
The video’s producers remain anonymous, fearing reprisals from the government and police.
“The fear of white terror [acts made to create a climate of fear] is to an extent that, even if I go by a fake surname, I worry about causing trouble for others who actually have that surname,” one of the video directors told the Post earlier.
How the song came into being in many ways mirrors the decentralised nature of the protest movement that has rocked Hong Kong for the past six months.
Its composer, who goes by pseudonym “thomas dgx yhl”, published the music in August on LIHKG, an online forum popular with protesters. He also posted the first draft of the lyrics, which he said were inspired by the works of Lu Xun, a prominent Chinese writer in the Republican era, and renowned Tang dynasty poet Li Bai.
It became one of the top posts on LIHKG as users chimed in on how the lyrics and the key could be improved.
Some 20 forum members went into the studio a few days later to record the first version of Glory to Hong Kong, Thomas told local online media outlet The Stand News.
A hundred and fifty musicians later volunteered to perform on the orchestral version of Glory to Hong Kong that topped the local YouTube chart.
The song became so popular that a number of variations were produced, including one using Chinese orchestral instruments and another on acoustic guitars.
A parody by a pro-Beijing group led by controversial lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu was also uploaded on YouTube in September, only to be taken down after a label associated with singer and democracy activist Denise Ho Wan-sze claimed copyright to the music.
Two other protest music videos, W.T.F.H.K. and Flying With You, ranked in sixth and eighth place, respectively, in the Hong Kong YouTube top 10 songs, announced on Thursday, with about 1.6 million views each.
Local hard-core rap group LMF penned the profanity-laden W.T.F.H.K. as a harsh criticism of the Hong Kong government, with lyrics accusing the authorities of funding “meaningless” infrastructure projects and colluding with business elites.
Uploaded on YouTube in April, before the pro-democracy protests began, W.T.F.H.K. was later re-appropriated as a protest theme song.
Written and arranged by “Hongkonger”, Flying With You alludes to the slogan that prompted some 15,000 protesters to stage a sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport in July. From sleepless nights to unanswered calls for democracy, the pop song talks to the desperation many protesters have felt during the unrest, which has passed the six-month mark.
YouTube’s top trending local music videos of 2019 also include Canto-pop singer Kayee Tam Ka-yee’s Can You Hear, which ranks second and was featured in TVB medical drama Big White Duel.
Love in Troubled Times, by veteran singer Leo Ku Kui-kei and featuring actor Nancy Wu Ting-yan, ranked fourth, followed by We Grew This Way by Sammi Cheng Sau-man in fifth place.
The mash-up of Actually Lonely and Lonely is Like by Juno Mak Chun-lung and Kay Tse On-kei ranked seventh, with rock band Dear Jane’s 2048 and Canto-pop singer Hins Cheung King-hin’s Empty Hands taking the ninth and 10th slots.
Push will get a person almost anywhere- except through a door marked “pull.”