A TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken Jan 6, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
Renowned Chinese singer Fei Yu-ching may find it hard to believe that his 1983 classic Yi Jian Mei, a muse-inspired lilting melody for a lover, is now a global meme, boosting some Chinese mobile apps' popularity as well as revenue.
It all started when YouTuber "Goated Beats" published a video on May 16. That video was originally posted on Kuaishou, a short video-sharing platform, by a Chinese social media influencer nicknamed Eggman (Dan Ge).
In the video, Eggman, in snow, is seen singing Yi Jian Mei. As the oldworld charm of the gentle, soothing music caught on, the video went viral attracting over 3.6 million views and more than 148,000 likes on YouTube as of June 27. YouTubers also remixed the song with hip hop, funk, and even film clips for more fun, which sparked an instant online trend.
A latest video by AnDyWuMUSICLAND, a YouTuber with over 476,000 subscribers, remixed Yi Jian Mei, using Fei's voice but a picture of Eggman's egg-shaped head, with Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj's Side to Side.
The video attracted about 8,484 views and 830 likes on YouTube within 24 hours, and over 748,000 views and more than 7,700 likes on Weibo's official entertainment account within 24 hours.
Top comments from Chinese netizens included "Hope to see Fei and Minaj sing songs together at the 2021 CCTV Spring Festival Gala", and "Don't know why the video just got me laugh to death".
Another video posted by YouTuber Moe Ment, remixing film clips from Avengers with original soundbites from Fei's Yi Jian Mei, has gained more than 80,000 views and over 1,200 likes within a month.
Subsequently, the line Xue Hua Piao Piao Bei Feng Xiao Xiao from the main lyric also became a most frequently searched term in the past month. According to Google Trends, interest in Xue Hua Piao Piao surged in May and reached a peak in early June in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
The line Xue Hua Piao Piao Bei Feng Xiao Xiao even made it to the Urban Dictionary.
According to its explanation, "The word use in a sentence is ambiguous and can mean anything."
As the Yi Jian Mei meme went viral, more people started to make their own videos singing the song in various styles.
A TikTok (known as Douyin in China) compilation of Yi Jian Mei meme, which included different videos depicting people singing Xue Hua Piao Piao Bei Feng Xiao Xiao, has gained over 138,000 views and more than 1,500 likes within one month.
In fact, Chinese short video-sharing platforms like TikTok and Kuaishou may have become the biggest winners of the Yi Jian Mei meme.
Alongside the booming popularity of Yi Jian Mei meme, TikTok had been downloaded over 119 million times just in May. Revenue of Tik-Tok in May surpassed $95.6 million, nearly 10 times of the same period last year, said a report from 21st Century Business Herald.
According to the publication's estimates, TikTok may pull in about $500 million in just the US this year. Last year, TikTok's global revenue was estimated to have ranged from $200 million to $300 million.
A report from the 21st Century Business Herald said TikTok is enjoying increasing popularity among US teenagers. The report said TikTok had about 26.5 million active users in the US last year, among which 60 percent were aged 16 to 24.
To date, TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times since its overseas launch, according to data from market research agency Sensor Tower.
Actually, short video streaming and sharing platforms like TikTok have stepped in overseas markets long ago.
According to App Annie, TikTok was the most downloaded app in India in the first quarter of 2020, surpassing WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. In late March, when Indians were stuck at home due to COVID-19 lockdown, TikTok was downloaded about 490 million times in one week.
Other popular social media platforms in India include ToGetU and Likee. The former, founded by a former executive of Alibaba, had been downloaded over 10 million times at the beginning of 2019, making it to the top 10 of India's most downloaded apps.
Likee, founded by Chinese streaming video company YY, made it to the top eight in terms of most downloaded apps in the second season of 2019.
Wei Pengju, director of the Institute of Cultural Economics at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, said the popularity of Chinese short video-streaming platforms in overseas markets was mainly due to those apps' maturity level, in terms of techniques and user experiences, as they have continuously made changes based on user reviews on their Chinese versions.
Wei said those short video-streaming platforms' overseas success has driven more and more international audiences to know more about Chinese culture.