Last year, our friends Amanda and Chris invited us to go to a benefit concert with them at the Oracle Arena. (The benefit was for Family Bridges, a program in Oakland's Chinatown that provides bilingual health and social services to low-income seniors and immigrants. One of the singers lived in Oakland for a long time.) They had gotten the tickets through Chris' job, and we thought it sounded fun, especially because we don't get to see Amanda and Chris very often. The tickets said the concert would be given by George Lam and Hacken Lee, whose names we didn't recognize, so we just dressed nice and showed up.
The four of us may have been the only people in the whole arena who didn't speak Cantonese. It was hardcore. We had a great time, especially once the guys (who are, I think, giant Cantopop stars in Hong Kong) started singing American songs from the 90's, only in Cantonese. It was the most amazing kind of concert. I don't have any pictures of us with Amanda and Chris from that night, so you will have to be content with videos from the concert. They're balm to all but the most hardened souls. I encourage you to go with the full-screen version.
First, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" (Starship-turned-Cantopop). Wikipedia calls the English lyrics "banal yet effective." This version, my non-Chinese-speaking friends, is neither. (The rest of you can make your own judgments.)
Next up, a little Madonna! This rendition of "Material Girl" features some truly stunning dancers. I also love that George Lam just wore a T-shirt and jeans. (Hacken Lee was a little flashier.)
And what concert would be complete without Gloria Estefan? (I make a cameo in this one.)
Last, they did do a song or two in English. Luckily for me, one of them was this childhood favorite, Linda Ronstadt's "Devoted to You."
*Allow me a moment to reminisce: One night during a family reunion at the beach, we were in a drugstore in town. While waiting for the adults to make their purchases, I perused the dirt-cheap-book bin. In the course of my digging, I read the back of the book "Jaws" (a movie which I had not seen and a story with which I was unfamiliar). For the rest of the night, the shark attack story grew in my mind until I was almost afraid to sleep in my beach-house bed, even though logically I knew that a shark would be hard-pressed to chew me up while I was behind locked doors, hundreds of yards from the water. Over the course of that evening, I listened to Linda Ronstadt's "Dedicated to the One I Love" lullaby album to distract myself. As a result, today I associate every song from that album with shark attacks. I hope this video is now extra enjoyable to you.
Thanks, Amanda and Chris!