June 1st is Children’s Day in China and much of the rest of the world. The Beijing News got a two-day jump on the festivities with a photo montage headlined:”Seven-year-old little devils play in a band.” The pop rock foursome – three boys and a girl – hail from Tianjin and call themselves 20088. “20088 refers to the fact that in 2008, they’ll be eight,” notes TBN.
The band was formed a year ago on Children’s Day, 2006. Its founder was the kids’ teacher, Li Hongyu. He hand-picked the members out of 300 to 400 students at a local music club. Each took up music at the early age of three or four, and now plays at least two instruments. 20888’s breakout gig came last September at a night of Tianjin rock at Beijing’s 13 Club, where the youngins did a stripped-down cover of Lao Cui’s Girl in the Flower Shop (Ëä±ÊàøÂßëÂ®ò). Here’s a clip posted on YouTube:
Now, 20088 are performing four to five times a month – often at “public service” outings, but increasingly, at paying gigs too. Road trips and rehearsals have caused the first-graders to miss out on some classes, says TBN, and that’s the one thing that worries their parents. But they all come from “rather wealthy families”, and the parents have arranged for them to make up the class time at home. According to the paper, they all get “pretty good” grades. Teacher Li’s quoted as saying:
In terms of rehearsals and song selection, we must look for material that is appropriately positive, healthy, and encouraging for children.
Anyone who is opposed or suspicious [of the band] only [feels] so out of concern and love for the children.
20088 appear to be on the brink of becoming a mass sensation, and in turn, perhaps, of bumping up against more pressures and critiques than they have so far. In recent months the kids have appeared on CCTV children’s network, an array of awards programs and talk shows on provincial stations, and the set of Phoenix TV star talk show host Chen Luyu, whose show with 20088 was set to air on or around June 1. 20088 also took first place in an online Olympic battle of the bands with their best-known song,”My 2008″ „ÄäÊàëÁöÑ2008„Äã (listen here), a playground dream anthem composed and written for them by Tianjin artists much their elder. On Saturday night, 20088 are scheduled make their national prime-time debut on CCTV News channel show “The Olympics Are Here” (Â••ËøêÊù•‰∫Ü).