Results tagged “Pepsi” from Jake Newby

Wow: Pepsi + Torturing Nurse = WTF?

pepsibattleofthebandsUPDATE: Unbelievable indeed. This was, of course, an April Fool. As was this. Chortle chortle. 

I've just got back in from dinner and a few drinks with a friend who used to be pretty involved with the noise scene here and have to share this. It's an enormous WTF, but comes on very good authority. Details are still being firmed up, but it's basically agreed in principle.

First up, the unbridled success that was the Pepsi battle of the bands contest last year, has clearly emboldened the fizzy drinks company because, guess what? They're doing it all again. Hooray! Entitled 'Pepsi Battle of the Bands 2: The Voice of a New Generation Ultimate Showdown' (my translation), it seems as if the contest will follow much the same format as last year's show, the one that caused all that fuss. So far, so corporate. But wait, the next bit of news is the really unbelievable thing.

First, catch up on last year's fiasco here.

Now, having read that, set your faces to stunned. Apparently taking on board the criticism of last year's commercial fizzfest, the organisers are trying to reach out to more underground acts that chime better with Pepsi's [quote] 'cutting edge brand' by putting some of the leaders of the alternative scene on in prime-time TV slots as part of the show. Roughly entitled 'Mentor's performance' (it sounds better in Chinese to be fair), the plan is to invite more alternative acts to perform a song each week as part of the overall contest and to then pass judgement on the participating bands. Again, this is similar to what they did last year, except that according to a very well placed source, instead of people like Mayday, they're looking at inviting Torturing Nurse as one of the guests. 

Yes, that's Torturing Nurse of S&M, torture and harsh as fuck noise fame. On prime-time TV. In China. What the fuck? According to a former member of the group, who is considering a one-off reunion for the show scheduled to air in late May, they are in talks with organisers of the Pepsi contest to do an 'anime-inspired' show as part of the 'Mentor's performance' slot. Pepsi are apparently offering the act 'significant amounts of money' for the slot and see the anime twist as a way of getting the group's less harmonious aspects around the censors. 

There's more info on this year's contest here (Chinese only so far) and you can see the 'Mentor's performance' page here (although it simply says 'more details soon' in Chinese at the moment). A date for the performance hasn't been released yet, but it'll be on Hunan TV and should be 'late May' according to my source. They're in advanced negotiations apparently (naturally there are a few questions over exactly what they can perform) and a date should be confirmed 'within the next two weeks'. As soon as I know more, I'll post it up here. 

This poses all sorts of questions, not least can they pull it off? Right now though, I need to go and have a sit down and take all this in. Unbelievable.

Battling flack over battle of the bands... still

harryhui.jpgUPDATE, Sep 17: In addition to K.E. and Five Pence, it now seems that October Capricorn (picture below) and Anchor have withdrawn from the GBOB. Sam Dust of YYT has stated that October Capricorn will not be taking part while Anchor's drummer has explained, "after we said we'd enter we discovered that we had to pay to take part. Originally we were just going to play and hadn't realised we had to pay a fee. We're no longer participating in this competition."


Anyone who's suffering from Battle of the Bands fatigue out there, I feel your pain. And yet, here I am, stealing Elaine's headline and taking up more space on the interwebs about them. I know, I'm part of the problem.

So why bring these competitions up again? A couple of reasons: first, Dan Shapiro has offered "Another Look at that Pepsi Battle of the Bands" over on his blog at CityWeekend (go read it here); second, the Global Battle of the Bands that I mentioned before here, has been taking a bit of stick on Douban of late.

Dan makes some interesting points in his piece and argues that the exposure the bands receive is far greater than that for bands who remain underground and gig at mid-sized venues. He admits that the sticking point is the sacrifices a band may have to make in terms of their artistic vision, but argues that sticking with an indie label doesn't mean you get a carte blanche artistically either:

"Of course, mainstream labels may limit artistic control; singing with an indie label should ensure your band receives complete creative license. But wait, in Shanghai, singing with a local label means you may have to change your sound, your style, your hair (Little Nature) and even your band name (MOMO / Happy Strings), in order to fit the target demographic."
This is a fair point in regard to Soma - they have changed the artists they've taken on board. Andy wrote a while back about the changes to Momo's appearance and when I interviewed lead singer Ding Jia nearly a year ago I asked her about why the band had changed their sound so dramatically and she simply said "because we signed with the label." She didn't bat an eyelid.

"Has the era of consumer rock arrived?"

TimeOutmusic.jpgThere's a few things that have caught my eye in the press recently regarding the Shanghai music scene so I want to do a little round up here. Dan Shapiro recently put up a great overview of where to go for your English-language coverage of the scene (he also said some very nice things about this blog, thanks Dan), but the things that I'm going to write about below all come from the Chinese-language press.

One is from Time Out Shanghai about band contests, one is a piece on Top Floor Circus by a swanky upmarket lifestyle magazine and the third is an appearance from the Curry Soap and 8 Eye Spy in XMusic. Unfortunately, I can only link to the Top Floor Circus piece as the others don't appear to be online, but I'll try and give you an idea of the content anyway.

The title of this post is lifted from the headline of Time Out's main music feature for the current issue (the one with the luggage tag on the front cover). My first thought was 'no' followed by 'and what's consumer rock anyway?' If I tell you that this headline is surrounded by photos from a certain soft drink-sponsored battle of the bands, you might get an idea (see the picture above).

The angle of the article is basically a face-off between the aforementioned band contest and the Global Battle of the Bands, as both have their "finals" taking place in Shanghai soon. This is kind of misleading as there aren't any qualifying rounds for the GBOB in Shanghai, but whatever. Despite this premise and most of the article focusing on these two competitions, there's actually some fairly well-reasoned comments in the introduction.

Pepsi fight back

sweet journey.jpg UPDATE: Literally as I was hitting "publish" on this post, I got a message from one of the "indie integrity bandwagon" jumpers to say he'd just posted on it. I think you know who I mean. You can read his response here.

Remember back in April when Pepsi announced they were doing a Battle of the Bands contest? Any initial excitement was quickly nipped in the bud when the preliminary rounds of the competition descended into farce: poor production values (if any), ignorant presenters and judges, plus a lot of disrespect to the bands.

Pu Pu of The Mushrooms (a band whose t-shirt you can see on one of the members of Sweet Journey on the right here ironically) decided to take a stand together with Zhang Haisheng against the competition and announced that they would be boycotting the competition. Numerous other bands joined them, while Pinkberry went on to win the Shanghai round.

Well the competition is still going on apparently (minus Pinkberry now) and it has an English-language blog to accompany it. The blog talks to various people behind the scenes and discusses the show and issues associated with it, though fails to mention anything about the massive recent accident in Guangzhou where people are rumoured to have been killed and where Pepsi apparently ordered a press blackout.

Anyway, nearly three months after the boycott, Pepsi have hit back, belittling the bands' stance and chiding them for boycotting an event that was clearly packaged as corporate from the off. Here's a taster:


Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.