Street Angel

Every so often I re-trawl the web for information about things I was previously unable to learn much about due to insufficient knowledge of Japanese/Chinese. The bonus here is, of course, that while I am studiously memorising more Han characters, people who learnt to write them in primary school are also making more websites. Websites for ME!

Our subject today is Zhou Xuan (周璇), prewar singer from Shanghai who performed the song that plays at the most beautiful moment of In the mood for love. it's also the title song if you're using the Asian name of the film, 花様年華. Here's all the English stuff I found.

This page has been up forever, and the guy who runs it was astonishingly helpful when I e-mailed him out of the blue to ask him what else he knew.

This page at Shanghai Soup has a bunch of songs you can listen to, including what seems to be Zhou Xuan's most famous track, 夜上海 ("Shanghai Night": "夜上海 夜上海 你是个不夜城"*)

Legendary Chinese Pop Fun! (I think that's a pun, not an error) has all kinds of cool stuff. There's a Zhou Xuan page, of course, complete with VCD reviews:

Someone hanker for old Shanghai,but this movie proved that was only some rich peoples life. At that time.Lower classes people's life were very hard.They oppressed by rich peoples and Japan!(Oh!)

-- But there are also pages about early Asian 78s (with scans!) and old-school Mandarin pop music -- including Lee Hsianhsan, who was actually Japanese, born in Manchukuo.

And, finally, this isn't English, but here's a page of search results for Zhou Xuan at the mysterious Baidu.com, and here are the lyrics to 花样的年华. Well, that only took a few years. Any Chinese-speaking readers want to translate it properly for me? (I won't even inflict my pitiful attempt on y'all.)

* "Shanghai night, Shanghai night, you are here [and so] it isn't night in the city?"

Popularity factor: 7



I'm here to correct your Chinese again!

夜上海 夜上海 你是个不夜城

The literal translation is:

"Shanghai night, Shanghai night, you are a city with no night time."

The Chinese word 不夜城 translates into the English phrase, "the city never sleeps".

p.s. A few years ago, a Japanese movie named 不夜城 was made, the English title is "Sleepless Town".



Ugh, I meant to type 頑張って.

I'm procrastinating and had a look at the lyrics:

花样的年华 - Times like flowers
月样的精神 - Spirits like the moon
冰雪压不住你 - Snow and Ice cannot deter you
美丽的山花 - Beautiful wild flowers
多情的隽松 - Sentimental pine trees
暖暖的家庭 - A warm and loving family
墓地里这孤岛笼罩着残雾愁雨 - By the graveyards, a cloud of sadness envelopes this lonely island
残雾愁雨 - A fog of sadness and rain!
啊可爱的祖国 - Oh! My beloved motherland
其实我能够靠近你的怀抱 - I can come closer to your embrace
梦见那雾消云散 - Dreaming of that fog fading away
重见你放出光明 - Revealing your brightness

* 多情 actually means "of many loves", which could be used to describe someone as a kind of playboy. But in this case, I think 'sentimental' might be a good translation.


Hurrah! Thanks! My version was about 60% wrong.

So, if I understand correctly, 个 is a counter, right? In "你是个不夜城", is it acting to count the whole "不夜城" phrase? i.e. the "a" in "you are a city with no night time".


Indeed, 个 is a counter, in traditional characters, it's written like this, 個. In this case, it's a short-hand for 一个(個),which is analogous to the Japanese 一つ。

And yeah, you're completely correct about how 个 maps into the English article 'a'.



Hi Matt - I can't keep up with your blogs - you have so much interests ! =) I don't know any old chinese stars really, and only knew of Lee Hsianglan because she appeared in part of the movie 流転の王妃・最後の皇弟 (Takenouchi Yutaka) Duncan's translation looks really good.


I don't think I've seen that movie, Evelyn, is it any good?


Hi Matt - i should correct, it's not played by the real Lee HsiangLan, but someone playing her role as a famous singer. Movie is set in 1930's - WW2, when Japan occupied northern part of China - Takenouchi plays last emperor's younger brother who married a Japanese from extended royal family through political marriage. I liked the movie a lot. I think you will like it too, historical, and combines Japanese and Chinese cultures.

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