From turbulence to rebirth: Bilibili holds New Year’s Eve Gala to inspire China after a challenging year
Bilibili will stage The Most Beautiful Night of 2020 New Year’s Eve Gala to mark the end of a turbulent year and the start of a new one.
Focusing on the theme of “rebirth,” the 4.5-hour 42-act Dolby-quality online event aims to provide an emotional catharsis from a challenging year and the inspiration needed to move forward. The countdown to the new year will be live-streamed from Wuhan, featuring Wuhan Yangtze River Cruise horns and the Wuhan city light show.
The Gala will kick off with a concept video “See you, 2020” to relay the event’s key message: One can’t turn back the clock. It is time to bid farewell to 2020 and stride forward into the future.
Using a combination of computer-generated imagery, animation, and live shots, the concept video tells a story where the year 2020 is a protagonist struggling with what to do about all of the tragedies over the past year. Set in a surreal style, the video shows the character of “2020” receiving a magic cube with an “undo” button that is able to wipe himself out along with all the misfortunes of the year. But 2020 eventually reconciles with himself and decides to let go of the past and move forward into the future.
The year 2020 has been the most challenging of the 21st century so far and people everywhere need courage and perseverance, or a “heroic spirit”, to move forward. To meet this collective emotional need, the Gala gathers iconic heroes from both East and West to provide inspiration. Acclaimed pianist Lang Lang and Marvel Studios have prepared a Marvel-themed musical performance, Marvel Heroes Forever (or “漫威英雄永不落幕”), providing fans a glimpse of what’s to come in 2021.
“2020 has been an unusual year for all of us, but together, we’ve kept hope alive in the face of unprecedented challenges. And we’ve never stopped telling the tales of heroes. Next year, Marvel Studios will continue to bring inspiring stories to the big screen including Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and the Legend of the Ten Rings, as well as Eternals, welcoming a brand-new era in the Marvel cinematic universe,” said Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios. “Before that, there will also be a Marvel-themed musical performance to welcome the New Year.”
With over 910,000 fans on Bilibili, Lang Lang is not only admired for his musical talent but also the way his videos provide a source of amusement for his fans. In October, an auto-tune remix video of Lang Lang giving a piano lesson went viral, amassing over 14 million video views on Bilibili.
Chinese traditional heroes will also be featured in the Gala. Singer Zhou Shen will perform the ending theme song from Legend of Deification, a story of Jiang Ziya who bravely fought against injustice. Legend of Deification is a widely acclaimed animated feature that became exclusively available on Bilibili in November after its theatrical release in October. It has achieved over 12 million video views on Bilibili.
Another feature will be the theme song from Journey to the West, one of the most beloved TV series in China adapted from the classic 16th century novel of the same name. Throughout the story, the main characters demonstrate indomitable courage and perseverance during a legendary pilgrimage that is full of adventure and misadventure. The TV series was an instant hit after it became available on Bilibili in June.
Although millions of people were separated for much of 2020 because of COVID-19 lockdowns, they remained connected online and found a sense of community there. One popular Bilibili Uploader during this period was Miumiu Guitargirl, whose unexpected combination of melancholy and childlike wonder became the perfect salve during troubled times. She brightened lives across the internet and attracted musicians worldwide to join her in online ensembles. The number of subscribers to her YouTube channel surged to over 300,000 and 160,000 on Bilibili.
At the New Year’s Eve Gala, Miumiu will perform “See You Again” together with other international Uploaders to pay homage to those who passed in 2020. In the same spirit, Chinese singer-songwriter Mao Buyi will perform “Remember Me” from Pixar’s Coco.
The Rainbow Chamber Singers, a modern choir whose viral songs often contain comedic lyrics or social commentary will perform a song named “Stand Up” in the Wenzhou dialect. “Is this it? A down and out life; No-nonsense; Hey stand up,” goes the uplifting lyric.
Bilibili New Year’s Eve Gala is inspired by youth culture and integrates the important cultural touchstones of Chinese young people, including animations, games, films, and television shows. For example:
- Virtual idol Luo Tianyi will perform “Night Voyager,” the theme song from My Three-Body: The Legend of Zhang Beihai, a nine-part animation series that drew its inspiration from the sci-fi masterpiece The Three-Body Problem. Zhenyi Li, the director and screenwriter of My Three-Body, is also a Bilibili Uploader. The Three-Body Problem anime series is slated for 2021 release on Bilibili.
- Bilibili Uploaders will perform theme songs from The Legend of Sword and Fairy (仙剑奇侠传), one of the most famous role-playing computer game in the Chinese-speaking world. With its earliest version released in 1995, the game has been enjoyed by tens of thousands of players worldwide throughout the decade and remains popular among Chinese youth today.
- Lexie Liu will perform “Warrior,” the official theme song for the League of Legends World Championship 2020. Lexie Liu is known for blending Asian music with elements of pop, R&B, and rap, while also weaving Chinese and English lyrics together. In October, Lexie Liu joined K/DA to perform their newest single “MORE” live at the 2020 League of Legends World Championship opening ceremony in Shanghai. Bilibili and LoL Esports, the global League of Legends esports arm of Riot Games, reached a strategic partnership on its global esports tournaments: The World Championship, Mid-Season Invitational, and All-Star. The partnership began at the League of Legends World Championship this year, granting Bilibili exclusive broadcasting rights in China through 2022.
- The Lord of the Rings soundtrack theme song “May It Be.” Earlier this year, Bilibili launched The Lord of The Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy on its platform as a six-film extended edition collection.
- Chinese folk-rock group Wu Tiao Ren (五条人) will perform the theme song from Scissor Seven, the first Chinese animated series to be streamed as a Netflix Original.
- A Cruel Angel’s Thesis, the theme song of the phenomenal Japanese animation Neon Genesis Evangelion. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Neon Genesis Evangelion and its narrative of redemption is in line with the macro-environment of 2020.
- Anime dance to the theme song of Bilibili’s 2020 new blockbuster game Princess Connect! Re:Dive.
The Gala is also a manifestation of contemporary Chinese youth’s love for mashing up different cultures: traditional and cutting-edge, domestic and international, niche and mainstream, classic and innovative.
- The Gala’s opening act is inspired by the smash-hit game Cyberpunk 2077 and features a human/screen interactive parkour against an AR technology stage, accompanied by a symphony orchestra.
- Musician Wu Tong will cut through the cultural differences between East and West by performing a suite of songs from famous Western soundtracks such as JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure theme “Il vento d’oro,” and Rick and Morty‘s “For the Damaged Coda” on the sheng, a traditional Chinese instrument. Wu Tong’s performance will follow in the tradition of Fang Jinglong, who impressed China at last year’s Gala with his musical virtuosity and refreshing matchup with virtual idol Luo Tianyi. Wu Tong’s versatility knows no bounds: the 47-year-old Beijing native and two-time Grammy winner is a rock-and-roll star and a master of the sheng.
- Mainstream celebrities will also attend, such as Han Hong (韩红), Mayday(五月天), G.E.M.(邓紫棋) and Cui Jian (崔健), the most influential rock musician in China and widely acclaimed as the “Father of Chinese Rock.”
- Performances by the winners of Rap for Youth, Bilibili’s first rap reality show. Rap for Youth achieved 430 million
video views since its release on Bilibili on August 22.
- The theme song from the youth drama Run for Young, performed by the show’s main cast members. Run for Young is the first major series released under Bilibili’s new partnership with HUANXI Media, it achieved 390 million video views since its release on Bilibili on September 24.
Bilibili will release a documentary series that unveils the behind-the-scenes preparations for the New Year’s Eve Gala.
Sponsors and partners of the 2020 Bilibili New Year’s Eve Gala include Yuan Qi Sen Lin, a Chinese indie beverage brand popular among Chinese young people, Midea Group, China Mobile, and China Merchants Bank Credit Card.
The inaugural Bilibili New Year’s Eve Gala 2019 was acclaimed as “the gala that knows best about (Chinese) young people.” It amassed 120 million video views.
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