Category Archives: Chinese music

Translation: 王菲 – 开到荼蘼, Faye Wong – The Last Blossom

王菲

Today I’m doing a translation of the lyrics for what is probably my all-time favorite Chinese song:   开到荼蘼 by 王菲 (otherwise known as “The Last Blossom” by Faye Wong).

On music and lyrics it is just head and shoulders above the sticky and sappy mess that is most Chinese pop music. She’s out there just kicking ass and taking no prisoners, really doing women all over China a favor.

My translation is fairly literal throughout, but there’s a lot in there that defies simple translation. Her lyrics (which she didn’t write, in this case) are really poetic and ocassionally difficult for Chinese people themselves to understand. Below the lyrics I’ve pointed out a couple places where I’m not sure on the correct translation.

Here is the mp3 开到荼蘼

and here is a link to the music video (a little silly, but hey, it’s 1999):

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTYxNjgyNzU2.html

王菲 – 开到荼蘼

每只蚂蚁                                                          Every single ant
都有眼睛鼻子                                                   Has eyes and a nose
它美不美丽                                                      Beautfiul or not
偏差有没有一毫厘                                            It’s not a millimeters difference
有何关系                                                          What does it matter?
每一个人                                                          Every single person
伤心了就哭泣                                                   If you’re hurt let the tears run
饿了就要吃                                                       If you’re hungry then just eat
相差大不过天地                                                It can’t beat the gap between heaven and Earth
有何刺激                                                          What’s there to get excited about?

有太多太多魔力                                                It’s all far too much magic
太少道理                                                          And far too little reason
太多太多游戏                                                   Far too many games
只是为了好奇                                                   All just out of curiosity
还有什么值得                                                   What’s there still worth
歇斯底里                                                          Getting hysterical about
对什么东西                                                       What are you
死心塌地                                                           really dead set on?

一个一个偶像                                                   Every single last idol                                                 都不外如此                                                       they’re no exception                                                  沉迷过的偶像                                                   The idols that mesmerized you
一个个消失                                                       They disappear one by one
谁曾伤天害理                                                    Whoever can scar heaven and Earth
谁又是上帝                                                       They’re a new God
我们在等待                                                       And we’re still here waiting
什么奇迹                                                           Waiting on what miracle?

最后剩下自己                                                    In the end you’re left with yourself
舍不得挑剔                                                        You can’t afford to be picky
最后对着自己                                                     In the end you face yourself
也不大看得起                                                     You won’t be thinking too highly
谁给我全世界                                                     Whoever gives me the whole world
我都会怀疑                                                         I’ll doubt it all
心花怒放                                                            The heart’s flower in full bloom
却开到荼蘼                                                         It’s the last blossom

一个一个一个人                                                  One person after another
谁比谁美丽                                                          Who’s more beautiful?
一个一个一个人                                                   One person after another
谁比谁甜蜜                                                          Who’s sweeter?
一个一个一个人                                                   One person after another
谁比谁容易                                                          Who’s easier?
又有什么了不起                                                   What’s left that’s so great?

每只蚂蚁                                                              Every single ant                                                     跟谁擦身而过                                                       Whoever they rub up against                                都那么整齐                                                           It’s all so neat and tidy                                          有何关系                                                              What’s it matter?                                                    每一个人                                                              Every single person                                              碰见所爱的人                                                       They bump into the person they love                    却心有余悸                                                           And the heart is left with a lingering fear.

 

Parts that I think need particular help include the translation of “心花怒放,开到荼蘼“ and 最后对着自己, 也不大看得起 (not sure if I got the implication of “也不大看得起” right). Also would love to hear feedback on anything else.

Translation: 孙燕姿 “未完成” (Stefanie Sun, “To be continued”)

孙燕姿 album cover

This will be my first shot at translating lyrics by my favorite Chinese-language singer: 孙燕姿, Sunyanzi (tones: 1, 4, 1). She’s a Singaporean “mando-pop” singer, and earlier this year I just went head over heels for her [music]. Below is a link to my favorite one: 未完成, “To Be Continued.” This has been my pick-me-up-and-throw-me-out-into-the-world song all spring, really injects a healthy dose of joy into my day.

Here’s a Youku link to the music video (but with low quality sound).

Here’s a Youtube link for sound quality.

And a link for listening to/downloading the mp3 未完成 To Be Continued

I’ve never translated poetry of any kind before, and with this I’ve gone with a mix of direct translation and plenty of “poetic” license. Remember that poetry always sounds strange in translation, song lyrics look dead when written down and, most importantly, I’m a noob at this. Here goes…

Take the long way home, mixing things up a bit,                      绕个路回家 有些事开始复杂

It’s a turn of phrase, one that I’m growing into                          拐个弯说话 代表必须长大啦

Gotta make sure, you’ll never quite make it on time,               要确定自己 总好象是来不及

With that shifting mood, can I get an answer from someone?心情在变化 能否找个人要答案 快回答

When you’re your boss, can’t be taking any days off,             开始负责任 都不能有点懒散

But left alone you’ll give the brain a break, what to do?          虽然私底下 常常让脑袋在放假 该不该

 

Put it this way: I can’t wait for the changes I can’t see,            这么说来 对我有期待 不知不觉是改变

I’m to be continued, and what comes up comes out,               未完成的我 一出现就要有表现

Feels pretty good,                                                                   感觉不错

To live is to change, and to never finish up.                            生活在世界未完成是个期待 永远做不完

[absurdly cute laugh, followed by repeat of earlier verses]

Think, think normal, think special, think freedom,                   想 想平凡 想特别 想自由

It all like that long way home, the extra turn,                           我想一切就像 绕个路 拐个弯

The extra load, pick it up, forced to become who I am.           要负责任 别偷懒 在逼着我成长

 

Put it this way: a heart full of unspeakable wishes,                 这么说来 自己的期待 有时说不出来

Choices made of intuitions,                                                     未完成什么 我会考虑我的直觉

Feels pretty good,                                                                   感觉不错

To live is to change, and to never finish up.                             生活在世界未完成是个期待 永远做完

 

Lots of non-poetic clunkiness in translation (and trouble in my formatting) but you get the idea. Sunyanzi was most popular about ten years ago, meaning that most college-age women in China love her. You can say what you want about Chinese music, but I’m just glad that this generation grew up with the above lyrics as opposed to this.