Rose, Rose, I Love You

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"Rose, Rose, I Love You /
Méigui méigui wǒ ài nǐ
(玫瑰玫瑰我愛你)"
Single by Yao Lee (姚莉)
from the album "Singing Girl" (Pathé Records EMI B. 597)
Released 1940
Format 78 rpm
Recorded 1940
Genre Mandopop, Shidaiqu
Length 2:23
Label Pathé Records / EMI
Writer(s) Wu Cun (吳村), Lin Mei (林枚)

"Rose, Rose, I Love You" is the standard English title of the 1940 Chinese popular song "Méigui méigui wǒ ài nǐ" (玫瑰玫瑰我愛你), first recorded by Yao Lee (姚莉). An English-language version whose lyrics have little in common with the original Mandarin was first recorded by Frankie Laine in 1951. It remains the only major popular music chart hit in the United States written by a Chinese composer.[citation needed]

The song is also known under the titles "Shanghai Rose" and "China Rose."

Méigui méigui wǒ ài nǐ (玫瑰玫瑰我愛你)[edit]

Yao Lee collection album titled after her hit song Rose, Rose, I Love You (玫瑰玫瑰我愛你)

The original Chinese lyrics were by Wu Cun (Ng Chuen; 吳村 Wú Cūn) and the music was credited to Lin Mei (林枚), a pen name for popular song composer Chen Gexin (陳歌辛). The song was first recorded in 1940 by Yao Lee (姚莉) as an interlude for the movie Singing Girl and released as a single on Pathé Records (EMI) catalog number B. 597. Yao Lee's Mandarin version was also released in the US and UK in the early 1950s by Columbia Records, catalog numbers 39420 and 2837 respectively. Yao Lee was credited as "Miss Hue Lee" in this release. Other early releases have also credited her as "Yiu Lei."

The English-language lyrics were written by the British radio presenter Wilfrid Thomas. It was recorded by American singer Frankie Laine and the Norman Luboff Choir, with Paul Weston and his orchestra, on 6 April 1951, and released by Columbia Records as catalog number 39367. The song reached #3 on the Billboard magazine music charts. At this time Columbia also released Yao Lee's original Mandarin version in the US and UK under the English title, "Rose, Rose, I Love You." When the songwriter Chen Gexin's youngest son went to the United States for advanced education, he was able to meet Laine and maintained a correspondence. The English lyrics have little in common with the original Mandarin, but they pay subtle tribute to the titular Mandarin phrase "méigui méigui" (lit. rose petal) by including the English phrase "make way," with its normal English meaning.

Covers[edit]

Petula Clark covered the song in English with new lyrics under the title "May Kway." This version entered the UK charts on May 5, 1951 and peaked at #16.[1]

The Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto covered the original Mandarin versions in the 1960s.

Gordon Jenkins released a cover of Frankie Laine's version on Decca Records catalog number 27594.[2]

Aneka also covered Frankie Laine's version in the early 1980s, also adding new original English lyrics. This single was released by Ariola Records but did not chart.

Hong Kong singer Anita Mui sang the Cantonese cover of the song in 1989 and was featured as the theme song of the Jackie Chan film Miracles.

The original Mandarin version of this song was also covered by Taiwanese singer Joanna Wang in her 2009 album Joanna & 王若琳.

The Mandarin version also has reached a degree of popularity in Vietnam with various performers, such as Thu Ngọc and Thái Doanh Doanh, covering the song under the title "Cánh hồng Trung Quốc."

Popular culture[edit]

The original Mandarin song was featured in the 1996 film The Pillow Book, both opening and closing the film and serving as a leitmotif representing the protagonist Nagiko's childhood.

The Mandarin version of the song was also featured in the 2005 film The White Countess. The film appears to be set in 1937, so the inclusion of the song would be anachronistic.

Anita Mui also sings this song in the 1988 Jackie Chan film Rouge.

David Bowie references the song in the 1984 documentary Ricochet. While visiting Hong Kong on his Serious Moonlight Tour, Bowie is filmed having dinner with a group of local socialites. He asks if they know the song, and several of the guests begin to sing it. At another time, the song is heard as a backdrop to footage of Hong Kong street life.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • "A Rose Is a Rose ..." Time. 14 May 1951. Accessed 30 January 2007. Note the article contains some errors about the Chinese version of the song.