A defiant protest anthem — indeed, one that many are now calling the unofficial anthem of Hong Kong itself — was the most-watched local music video on YouTube in 2019, the video giant announced today.
“Glory To Hong Kong,” which was penned by an anonymous composer, first appeared on YouTube on Aug. 31 and was quickly embraced by those protesting for greater democratic freedoms in the semi-autonomous city. The song continues to be belted out by protesters at flash mobs in malls, on the streets, and in the football stands, and people have done their own cover versions ranging from a Cantonese opera interpretation to a rendition performed on calculators.
But the version that beat them all, at least in terms of views, was the one featuring an entire orchestra — the Black Blorchestra — decked out in the helmets, goggles, and gas masks that have become the defining visual hallmarks of the city’s protesters.
“Glory To Hong Kong” was not the only protest-themed song to crack YouTube’s top 10 in the city.
“Flying With You,” also penned by an anonymous composer, sneaked in at number eight.
The song’s Cantonese title, “和你飛” (pronounced “wo lei fei”), is a reference to the airport protests that started off peacefully in July when protesters swarmed Hong Kong International’s arrivals hall, welcoming arriving passengers with slogans and singing. The words are also a homophone for “和理非”, which literally translates to “peaceful, rational, nonviolent” (which, on reflection, is kinda ironic given that a subsequent airport protest descended into chaos, culminating in violent clashes).
Unlike “Glory To Hong Kong,” which has a bit of a triumphant “to the barricades” feel, and “W.T.F.H.K.,” which has ‘tude to spare, “Flying With You” is more introspective and somber. Its lyrics speak to the exhaustion, depression, and sadness that underlie the protest movement, rooted in Hongkongers’ fear of losing their home (“I won’t leave, this is the final battle, I won’t live under another roof”), and their desire to stick together no matter what (“the love that never fails and expires, that’s in my blood, in the rain, in the storm, I’ll be here”).
Finally, while not explicitly protest-related (but definitely political), clocking in at No.6 was W.T.F.H.K. The song was originally written and performed by hip-hop collective LMF, or Lazy Mutha Fucka, who formed in 1999 and well known for spitting rhymes critical of Hong Kong’s politicians, economic oppression, and social alienation.
To celebrate their 20th anniversary, LMF put together a two-day festival (which was subsequently cancelled amid the protests) meant to feature some of the city’s best indie bands performing covers of their songs. The first track they dropped under the account LMFXXYEAR featured 10 rappers from Hong Kong’s hip-hop scene with their own verses delivering an “OK, boomer” to politicians and the rich not doing anything to help the poor.
The song was released two months before the extradition protests kicked off, but picked up even more steam on YouTube after they began.
Check out YouTube’s full top 10 music videos for Hong Kong right here:
1) Glory to Hong Kong, Black Blorchestra
2) Can You Hear, Kayee Tam
3) 潮共, JB
4) Love In Troubled Times, Leo Ku and Nancy Wu
5) We Grew This Way, Sammi Cheng
6) W.T.F.H.K., LMF
7) 《寂寞就如》及《其實寂寞》, Juno Mak and Kay Tse
8) NEI FEI WO, 和你飛
9) 2084, Dear Jane
10) Empty Hands, Hins Cheung