Sa Dingding (萨顶顶) International Debut Live in Beijing

Sa Dingding—the “Björk of the east”, and recipient of BBC3 World Music award Asia/Pacific 2008, got on stage to introduce her new album Harmony this evening at Reignwood theatre. After a false start with the mic failure and a 20 minute wait, the raucous fans welcomed her back on stage for round 2.

I’m really not a fan, but am very impressed with the brilliant job done marketing this woman, who looks 35, not 25. The play on exoticism, taking an ethnic talent with good looks, repackaging her commercially to the international audience and then making truckloads of cash off it—that’s very effective marketing strategy. The Chinese audience and media have rave reviews about it, rolling stones and BBC also flew in journalists for the international debut tonight, but I guess being a philistine, especially so in music, it was hard for me to appreciate—if at all. Really, it could just be me.

I have heard better folk/ethnic tunes in Tunisia, Vietnam and exotic little places with beautiful girls and more beautiful voices in colourful outfits with lots of bells and dingle dangle accessories. They too, could have been a Sa Dingding? If only lady luck had knocked on their doors and some fairy godmother came to work on repackaging and rebranding their identities, they’d be rolling in the millions.

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