Toupai reveals a talent he has kept hidden for years. Want to speculate on his motivation? 🙂
Chapter 7 – Sauteed Black Pepper “Little” Ribs (2)
Gu Sheng shut off her computer and threw herself onto her bed. Hugging her blankets, she started rolling around, back and forth. It was like her blood vessels had all completely burst. Her mind was filled with nothing but this amazing cast of people. It was practically the most desired line-up that she had been hoping for her entire life, k?
She was so thrilled she did not even hear her mobile phone until it had rung countless times.
When she picked up, it turned out to be the person she had just said goodbye to in the YY room: Geng Xiaoxing.
“Congratulations, Friend Gu Sheng.”
She laughed and asked what was going on and why was she calling so late.
“Actually… uh… I wanted to have a heart-to-heart chat with you.”
“Heart-to-heart chat?” Gu Sheng was puzzled. “We saw each other everyday — eating, sleeping, going to class together — and you never wanted any heart-to-heart chats. How come now we’re on holidays, just past Lunar New Year, and you start to have matters on your heart?”
On the other end of the phone, the other party started to hem and haw.
Her intuition told her this was an issue revolving around love. An issue regarding love? Then there was a high chance it had to do with that Wanmei Group Leader DaRen.
Sure enough, Geng Xiaoxing would start to say something, then stop, and finally, after several times of this, she confessed that she had just had her first-ever-in-history WeChat session with Jue Mei Sha Yi. It was a purely personal, purely for friendship session. All he had done was merely tell her a ghost story, and she had fallen into bliss and was now unable to sleep.
Gu Sheng was about to die laughing as she listened to this. Jue Mei most definitely did not tell her just an ordinary ghost story. It was obviously one from Strange Tales of Liaozhai about the ghost with the painted skin who would steal a person’s soul.
“Friend Geng Xiaoxing,” Gu Sheng said in a low tone so that her mom, who was watching television in the living room, would not be able to hear her. “Have you turned completely into a voice lover?”
“Huh?” Geng Xiaoxing was quiet for two seconds, and then she, too, lowered her voice. “It seems, perhaps, maybe… yes.”
“If a guy is ridiculously handsome but his voice sounds bad, would you like him?”
“I think, it seems… no.”
“If a guy is sweet and considerate but his voice sounds bad, would you like him?”
“If a guy is filthy rich but his voice sounds bad, would you like him?”
“No… no, I wouldn’t.”
“Congratulations! You have made the complete transformation into a voice lover.”
Gu Sheng breathed out a long sigh, and, in a somewhat mournful voice, she stated, “If a guy’s voice sounds bad and his standardized Mandarin pronunciation is not correct, but he wants to spend an entire lifetime with you… Oh, how painful that would be.”
Geng Xiaoxing had previously scoffed at her views on this, but now she was fully in agreement.
Not handsome? But as long as he was clean, that was good enough. Not sweet? Well, he could be taught. And nowadays, if you did not have money, you could still work hard and earn lots in your career……
However, if his voice sounded bad…
As these two voice lovers came into agreement, they had completely forgotten why Geng Xiaoxing had made the phone call in the first place.
She never thought that Toupai was absolutely the high-efficiency type. After only a few days, the planner for the song was starting to arrange a time with Gu Sheng for the first rehearsal for “Sword Cry in the Land of the Rivers and Lakes.”
Gu Sheng’s reply, of course, was that any time was fine with her.
Those people all had eminent statuses, and she would definitely conform to their needs, wholly and completely.
As a treat to Wanmei’s fans, this rehearsal was completely open to the public. Each of these people had plenty of his or her own fans. While Gu Sheng logged in and waited for the start time of the rehearsal, she watched as the audience numbers jumped from being in the thousands to ten thousands. She was becoming less and less calm. The screen below was continuously scrolling down like flowing water, so quickly that the comments were unreadable.
As she hung out there, waiting, she saw a sentence pop up in her private chat. It was Toupai
Qiang Qing Ci: Did you practice ahead of time?
Gu Sheng: Mm-hmm. Dada, don’t worry. I practiced for a long time.
Worried that she would embarrass Toupai or something along those lines, she had dared not go without practicing.
Even though she only had a few lines, the others with her were all golden voices… Pressure was intense, k?
Qiang Qing Ci did not reply again.
Following closely behind were private messages from Feng Ya Song, Jue Mei Sha Yi, and even Dou Dou Dou Bing telling her not to be nervous. Dou Dou Dou Bing also very considerately told her: Even if you sing better than all of us, you’ll still be criticized. You’re a new person… You’ll have to withstand some pressure, eh. Add oil!
Gu Sheng immediately expressed her resolve: Don’t worry. My heart is extremely healthy and strong!
After another ten minutes or so, they began chatting.
Listening to them, they all sounded like old friends, joking and bantering with each other. As usual, Qiang Qing Ci maintained his cool, withdrawn demeanor and did not come on his microphone… Gu Sheng, on the other hand, was too much of an unknown and really did not have much to say to these respected elders, so she also kept her microphone off and merely listened.
More than ten thousand people. It was almost equivalent to an outdoor concert.
But these hardcore fans were also happily listening to all these DaRen, many of whom had practically gone into hiding, chat away casually. Couldn’t ask for more, k?!
Although this was called a rehearsal, because of the vocal delay problem that occurred in YY, it was not possible for them to actually sing a song together live. As a result, the format merely was, whoever amongst them wished to sing would then sing a couple lines. In reality, they were simply calling this a rehearsal in order to provide a pre-event warm-up for Wanmei’s anniversary.
Sure enough, after the others had sung and it was Gu Sheng’s turn, the fans below were not very enthusiastic.
The incessant love declarations to one’s own Dada continued as before, completely treating her as if she was thin air.
Her singing was in superb form, and after completing her part, she discovered that, besides a few comments that had said her breath control was unsteady and she did not seem to have enough breath control, there really was not much criticism. She honestly felt good and at ease. Thankfully, she had not embarrassed Toupai.
“Our talented and refined Toupai DaRen?” Dou Dou Dou Bing very wisely turned the cannons toward the biggest heavyweight of the night, Toupai. “Toupai? Toupai? Where are you? Come and receive your suitors~”
Dou Dou Dou Bing was his old friend, so naturally she spoke more freely.
The channel went quiet for a few seconds.
“Mm. I’m here.” Qiang Qing Ci answered her, completely
A voice that hit the mark the instant it was heard. It was a male voice that was like an instant kill on all girls…
“Need me to speak some lines?” He followed up in an unhurried voice with a question.
“Speaking lines will be fine… not speaking them is fine, too. Just say something. Or give us a little special program or something.” Dou Dou Dou Bing exhaled a long breath. “It’s fortunate that you and I have known each other for several years now, so I’m immune. Qiang Qing Ci Dada, could you, just slightly, even a little bit, tone down your doting voice?”
Qiang Qing Ci could not help letting out a chuckle.
Gu Sheng could feel her heart give a thump. She was utterly intoxicated.
Just one laugh and she was already truly intoxicated.
She had listened to him for two or three years now, too, k? How come she wasn’t the least bit immune? Oh heaven…
That absolutely natural, absolutely charming laughter — she had to secretly record it one day and use it as her ringtone or something.
He contemplated for a moment. “What sort of special program would be good?”
The comment box was scrolling by with remarks coming in like the tides.
“Qiang Qing Ci Dada, I love you! For all my life, ah!!!” “Dada, I’m your diehard fan, ah! Even when you cough, it sounds nice. So sexy don’t you think don’t you think don’t you think, ah?!!!!” “DaRen, recite a full line of something, please. I’ll record it to be a ringtone!” “Please, DaRen, say, ‘You seductive little vixen, you.’ Begging on my knees!” “I only want one sentence. ‘I love you.’ I’m going to record it and repeat it 100 times as my ringtone, yeah.”……
The fans were many tonight. The fans were crazy tonight. But the fans of the other artistes could not equal even one-tenth of the fervor of Toupai’s fans
In the end, even the special guests could not help bursting out in laughter.
Fei Shao very subtly voiced his “envy.” “Ai! Tonight, I’m completely beneath Toupai…”
He was being deliberately ambiguous. Dou Dou Dou Bing could not help shooting back at him, “Qiang Qing Ci never hits on girls and absolutely does not hit on guys. That’s the custom here. Don’t use our Toupai to play up a bromance.”
Fei Shao laughed, “Play up? Do I need to play one up? Haven’t I reached the status of ‘saint of bromance’ already?”
He was a singer, so naturally, his speaking voice was not as rich and clearly articulated as Qiang Qing Ci’s.
Gu Sheng thought to herself, any voice compared with Toupai’s would instantly seem to grow dull…
“I…” Toupai stretched out the word, as if he was deliberating. The tone of the tail end of that word was truly spellbinding. “…. will sing. Is that alright?”
Gu Sheng was shocked. The fans were shocked. The special guests and the people from Wanmei Group who were present were all shocked.
Who had ever heard Qiang Qing Ci sing? Absolutely no one, k?!
Back in the days when Qiang Qing Ci was very popular – crazily popular – on the internet, regardless of how the fans begged him, regardless of how important the event and host were, there was absolutely no way of making him open his mouth to sing… And so, everyone thought that Toupai was definitely a prime example of being tone deaf.
But now, tonight, Dada was going to sing?
Gu Sheng immediately pressed the record button. She could swear that everyone else in the room was doing that exact same thing she was doing: recording it…
Fei Shao choked on this a bit. Somewhat unbelievingly, he said, “Qiang Qing Ci, are you trying to carve out a share of our singing world, too?”
Dou Dou Dou Bing also complained indignantly, “Hey, the way CVs and singers project their voices is different. Do you really think that if you use your fully CV voice to sing, you won’t go off-key?”
In contrast, Jue Mei Sha Yi, who had been watching from the sidelines the whole time, now very, very, very excitedly jumped in and interrupted, “You guys are finished. Your fans are going to completely defect now… The reason he didn’t sing is because his singing is too good, you know?”
Jue Mei Sha Yi let out a couple of loud chortles. He was totally looking forward to this.
Gu Sheng’s heart was thumping wildly, still not daring to believe this was real.
Until… until everyone had finished with their ranting and jeering and Qiang Qing Ci very calmly requested, “Sheng Sheng, could I trouble you to help me put up the lyrics?”
“Huh?” she blurted. The next second, she cleared her throat and replied in surrender, “Qiang Qing Ci Dada, my hands are handicapped. I’m absolutely incapable of handling lyrics and stuff like that…”
To follow along with each line he sang and put up the lyrics?
She reckoned that by the time he sang ten lines, she would still be only putting up the fourth line…
“It’s not a big deal,” Qiang Qing Ci told her with a hint of laughter in his voice, completely ignoring the countless number of lyrics experts who were volunteering themselves up for service. “However will be fine.”
However will be fine…
This could be done “however?” Could it be really be done just “however”?
This was Toupai’s first time singing, and she, the awful lyrics scroller, was definitely going to be beat to death.
Gu Sheng had no way out of this; she could not reject him there on the spot. She did not speak for three seconds but then steeled herself resolutely. “Dada, what song would you like to sing?”
He pondered briefly, then calmly stated a name: “Zui Meng Xian Lin.” [Drunken Dream in Divine Rain]
The moment that name was uttered, the microphones went totally silent.
A song for a female voice. And one that was absolutely sung in the high register.
Tonight, Toupai’s “beauty” was indeed going to quell the “beauty” of all the others here.
 Orig. 微信 ‘Weixin.’ Literally meaning ‘micro-message.’ A text and voice messaging app. Besides text messaging, there is hold-to-talk voice messaging, social networking, group broadcast messaging, etc. This app is hugely popular in China but also has a following outside of the country. Its English name is WeChat. www.wechat.com. Interesting side note: For those not familiar with the app, if you watched Boss and Me, the text messaging between Feng Teng and Shan Shan was not SMS. The interface where they were typing was actually the WeChat interface. (I love this app!)
 聊斋 “Liaozhai.” Liaozhai Zhiyi or Strange Tales of Liaozhai is a collection of hundreds of supernatural-themed stories. Amongst the more well known ones is the story, “Painted Skin” in which a gentleman takes in a beautiful young girl into his home. The girl actually turns out to be an evil, ugly ghost who had painted on a skin with the appearance of a beautiful maiden to fool the gentleman. Gu Sheng is secretly laughing that Geng Xiaoxing is acting like her soul’s been stolen, like she’s fallen under Jue Mei’s spell.
 接客 “jie ke.” This term is actually used to refer to prostitutes coming to receive their patrons. In this context, Dou Bing is merely teasing, of course.
 卖腐 “mai fu.” Literally, this means “to sell oneself as being ‘rotten,’ and is referring to someone who is associating himself with a boy-love rumour. In China, things associated with the 耽美 “danmei” or boy-love (BL) culture are often referred to as being 腐 “rotten.” This is not meant to be insulting. In fact, it is used by those who associate with this culture as a form of self-mockery in acknowledgement that they are aware that outsiders may criticize their preferences.
 艳压群芳 “yan ya qun fang.” In a multitude of splendid and beautiful flowers, a single one stands out and surpasses all the others. In this context, Toupai’s talent was going to surpass all the other talented CVs and singers present.
剑啸江湖 “Sword Cry in the Land of the Rivers and Lakes” does not actually make an official singing appearance in the story. This scene is as close as it gets. I won’t translate the lyrics since they never appear in the story. (There are many more songs coming up in the story, and I promise I will be doing full translations on some of them. In fact, there’s one next chapter.) In summary, the lyrics are introducing the characters in the game, with one singer for each character. We can have fun speculating which character and lyrics Sheng Sheng would be singing.
A little aside, does anyone else count seven individual singers that would be needed for this song, not six like what was written in the novel? A minor glitch that will likely be edited out when the novel goes to the printing press?
By the way, I made up the term “lyrics scroller.” 😉 I couldn’t think of any way to describe it. From what I understand, nowadays in YY, there are programs you can use to do the lyrics while you sing, but I think you need to do some prep work to time it along with the music. From what my quick digging found out, Tto manually put up lyrics is basically a cut and paste job in time with the music, but to do this, line-by-line, actually takes some skill so that you don’t lag behind the singer.