SOTD: 玫瑰少年,蔡依林/阿信

In 2000, 葉永鋕 was found in the school bathroom, seriously wounded and lying in his own blood. He was sent to the hospital but it was too late. He had been bullied severely at school for being “overly effeminate”, and had been the target of continuous harassment by classmates, and ambushed repeatedly in the bathroom. His death brought a wave of protest and education reform policy regarding gender and sexual education within schools.

This year, 玫瑰少年 picked up the Song of the Year at the Golden Melody Awards. The song is a love letter to 葉永鋕, and by extension to all those who are navigating social spaces tenuously because of their sexualities. In a year where Taiwan saw the legalization of same-sex marriage, it makes sense that this song would be given extra attention at the awards ceremony.

誰把誰的靈魂 裝進誰的身體 Who placed whose soul into whose body?
誰把誰的身體 變成囹圄囚禁自己 Who placed whose body into a cage to trap somebody?
亂世總是最 不缺耳語 The last thing this world lacks are the unfriendly whispers
哪種美麗會 換來妒忌 What kind of beauty incites all this jealousy?
你並沒有罪 有罪的是這世界 You did no wrong. This world is wrong.

Jolin has been a long-time advocate and vocal ally of the LGBTQ+ community, often employing openly queer dancers in her performances / concerts. This song is tender and powerful, reflective and unapologetic, critical and yet also an open call to hope. Written jointly with 阿信 from Mayday, the lyrics are thoughtful and juxtaposed with the catchy beats of her signature dance track style.

In a rare move, however, 阿信 chose to release a cover of the song as well, reforming it into the signature classic rock style of Mayday. Despite featuring the same lyrics, the song turns into a much more pronounced type of mourning, channelling Mayday’s ability to present both grief and hope at the same time.

哪朵玫瑰沒有荊棘 Which rose has no thorns?
最好的 報復是 美麗 The best revenge is beauty.
最美的 盛開是 反擊 The best retaliation is to bloom.
別讓誰去 改變了你 Don’t let somebody else change you
你是你 或是妳 都行 You can be you or you (feminine pronoun), it doesn’t matter.
會有人 全心的 愛你 There will be someone who loves you unconditionally.

I love it when multiple versions of the same song emerge into the world. I love how both versions are deeply personal responses to tragedy and both calls to action and change in different ways. It’s one of the few times I look into the mainstream music scene and feel a deep sense of hope.

玫瑰少年 在我心裡 Flower boy, in my heart
綻放著 鮮豔的 傳奇 You bloom into a vibrant legend
我們都 從來沒 忘記 we will not forget.
你的控訴 沒有聲音 Your story has no sound
卻傾訴 更多的 真理 but it asks us to listen to more truths,
卻喚醒 無數的 真心 but it wakes up countless earnest hearts.