Romania’s soft power. Manele in China (video)

As a Romanian living in China, it rarely happens that I find here something from my home country. If you’re Italian, it’s easy, you just walk 1000 meters in any direction and you will find an Italian restaurant. If you are an American, enter any shopping mall and you will hear Katy Perry signing. But if you are a Romanian, you’re not as lucky.

With this in mind, imagine how surprised I was today when I heard Romanian music on the streets of Shanghai.  And not just any music, but manele.

Manele is a rather controversial Romanian music style because of its lyrical content, which is sometimes vulgar and addresses themes like power, love (love for family members included), wealth, social status, sex, superiority over others (no, it’s not hip hop, but it’s the same overall concept) etc.. The popularity of this type of music is also due to singers’ poor usage of grammar. Moreover, the fact that this music is mostly played by Roma ethnics (which, as we all know it, is not Europe’s favorite minority group) will help the uninitiated get the larger picture.

So, today as I was trying to find the nearest subway station, I heard in the distance a familiar sound. Since I wasn’t sure if it’s truly a manele song, I went closer to double check. Indeed, the Uyghurs were playing manele through a speaker placed in front of their restaurant. Uyghurs are China’s minority group of Turkic origin, so I guess it comes naturally for them to enjoy manele, since this genre has strong Turkish and Arabic influences.

Seeing with my own eyes how many customers this Uyghur restaurant had just by playing manele, I now think Romania should change its tactics in case it still hopes for investments coming from China. It should quit the old diplomatic ways and compose 10 manele songs as good as this one. I can bet the Chinese will build a highway through the Carpathians in no time. 20 more songs and we will have our own Beijing – Bucharest express highway.

Enjoy the video I took and click here for the original song.

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