Avril Lavigne, in Mandarin

The Canadian pop star records a Chinese version of her new single, "Girlfriend." Beijing rejoices.

Published March 21, 2007 7:17PM (EDT)

As I intimated in my last post, I've been feeling all warm and fuzzy about cultural globalization this week after becoming infatuated with Cambodian pop-inflected psychedelic surf guitar. But after watching, and listening to, just now, Avril Lavigne sing the Mandarin version of her new "hit" single, "Girlfriend," I feel much like one of the commenters on a random Internet bulletin board who noted, while discussing the travesty: "this is one of those occasions where I wish I was both blind and deaf."

Lavigne has recorded eight different versions of "Girlfriend," each with the chorus sung in a different language. But the Mandarin release is potentially the most significant, because, as her manager, Terry McBride, said in an interview at the Canadian Music Week conference two weeks ago, Lavigne appears to be more popular in China than anywhere else.

Cassandra Szklarski reports for the Canadian Press:

Bride said analysis of online traffic suggests the largest chunk of her fans is in Beijing and two other Chinese cities.

"Her consumption is greater in Asia than what it is in all of the Western Hemisphere combined," McBride told an audience earlier yesterday at the annual music industry conference. "And some of those cities outweigh some of the biggest countries as far as the demand of consumption."

There's a mystery here that I'm not sure I want the answer to. I'd still rather know why the German-produced '70s disco act Boney M remains popular in India than ponder for too long why the Chinese are going crazy for a faux punk rocker currently hitting it big with a mean piece of fluff, of which the best thing that could possibly be said is that it is an homage to Toni Basil's "Mickey."

Pacific Epoch reports today that Tencent, the Chinese instant messaging colossus, has signed a deal to stream "Girlfriend" for free on its "entertainment channel." Which means that literally hundreds of millions of Chinese could soon be hearing the 22-year-old Canadian singing (in reasonably comprehensible Mandarin), "I don't like your girlfriend, I think you need a new one."

Globalization sux.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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