Ukulele says 'Farewell'

(shanghai daily)
Updated: 2006-12-29 09:23

The famous Taiwanese pop duo Ukulele - that split at the height of its popularity 10 years ago - will reunite for a farewell concert in Shanghai and sing campus songs of the 1990s, writes Yao Minji.

There is a famous line in "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" - "Domains under heaven, after a long period of division, tend to unite; after a long period of union, tend to divide."

This perfectly describes the history of Ukulele, a Taiwanese pop duo - vocalist Terry Lin and guitarist Lee Chi.

Ukulele had great success with its debut album "Ren Cuo" ("Admit the Mistake") in 1991 and took all-important music awards that year. Since then, their music swept the Chinese music scene.

In 1995, at the peak of their popularity, Lin and Lee split for personal reasons, without even a farewell concert.

Now, they are reuniting to say goodbye to their fans, with a touring farewell concert - "See You, Ukulele." They have performed in Taiwan and will play in Shanghai in mid-January.

"During the five years of Ukulele, we have had million-sale albums and almost all important music awards. But we have never had a touring concert," Lin said in an interview with Shanghai Daily. "It feels like we graduated without a commencement. And this concert is our commencement 10 years after graduation."

From the very beginning, the duo had a very clear style - atmospheric sound and melodious music, indicated by both the English and Chinese names of the group.

Ukulele is a Hawaiian instrument that resembles a smaller cuatro, a four-stringed guitar originally from Latin America. It produces a crisp, pleasing stylistic sound.

Ukulele's Chinese name is You Ke Li Lin, which contains the surnames of the two performers - Lee and Lin. And You Ke means someone who is crazy about top quality.

"We are You Ke Lee and Lin, because we aim for the highest quality of our music," explains Lin. "And our audiences are also You Ke because they echo and appreciate such music."

The interview took place a few days after the Taiwan concert. Lin looked exhausted and said he was "completely emptied but (had) never felt so fulfilled."

"I lost my voice for two days but I am still excited because I did it, after so many years. It was great to see so many 30-year-olds present and I couldn't help crying," Lin said.

"We expect to see many 30-year-olds in the coming Shanghai concert too," he added. "After all, Ukulele was one of the most popular campus performers during its height in the early 1990s."

With hip-hop and R&B dominating today's Chinese billboards, students of this generation probably don't even know about the so-called "campus songs," once heard on every street and sung by every student.

The origin of the genre has long been forgotten and it is hard to define exactly what qualifies as campus songs. One could logically guess that the genre was so named because those songs were once extremely popular among students, especially those in colleges and universities.

Similar to country music, campus songs are often brisk, mostly accompanied by a guitar. Songs are about love (platonic in the old days), friendship, classes, worries about the future, and so on. They are frank and simple, easily echoed and accepted by youth. And Ukulele's songs were among the best, mostly written by Lee, the guitarist.

After they split up, Lee and Lin each had a spin-off album and took very different roads over the next 10 years.

Lin kept his identity as a singer and continued to have hit albums but, of course, no campus songs anymore. With his moody voice, Lin gradually became recognized as "prince of non-platonic love songs."

Later, as he established his own music label, he started producing music for himself and others.

Lee, on the other hand, took a non-musical road. After one spin-off album, he went straight to the IT industry. In 2004, Lee started a new life in Shanghai as he took classes at Fudan University. Last year, he became one of the most talked-about people in the city when he took part in the reality show "Winner." Lee was the first and only celebrity participant.

Although he failed in the final round, Lee's idea of a Website for those unknown artists attracted investment. And this year, he returned to the show, this time, as a host.

Perhaps it was because of the show that features brainstorming that Lee got the idea of the concert name - "See You, Ukulele." And Lin cannot help teasing his former partner: "It is a great name. 'See You, Ukulele.' See Ukulele again on the stage, and also farewell for Ukulele.

"If Lee took this idea to the 'Winner' show, I bet he would have become champion."

The two had a close partnership for five years and spin-offs for 10 years. Now, 15 years later, they reunite to say "See You, Ukulele."

"I am a very picky person in terms of sound. So it will not be a show with lots of costumes and special effects," says Lin. "It will be a show that presents top-quality music. I want to control everyone's ears and bring you a music feast."

Date: January 13, 7:30pm
Address: Shanghai Grand Stage, 1111 Caoxi Rd N.
Tickets: 100-980 yuan
Tel: 021-962-288