Adele’s Rolling in the Deep is popular in China again, but sung in a way that you probably have never heard before.
A classically trained Chinese singer has reprised the hit in the style of a Chinese opera, while imitating the twisting dialect of Ningxiang County in the northeastern part of Hunan province.
Rather than trying to explain further, you should probably just watch this video:
It’s become a viral hit in China after it was first broadcast on 1.3 Billion Decibel, an online singing show where people sing popular songs in different Chinese dialects. While Mandarin is the official language of China, almost one third of the country speaks a local dialect as their first language.
The singer, Liao Jialin, is a graduate of the Conservatory of Music in Guangdong, and appeared in Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) in 2013 and 2014 in France as servant Cherubino, according to news portal Netease. He was also invited by Pope Francis (link in Chinese) to perform a solo in 2015, according to news outlet iFeng.
Since Aug. 5, when the song was first broadcast online, the song has attracted over 445,000 views on Youku, China’s YouTube equivalent. A Chinese-language article titled “This might be the craziest cover song you have ever heard” (link in Chinese) on WeChat, China’s popular instant messenger app, received six million views (link in Chinese) within 20 days.
“Adele is the one that doesn’t know how to sing,” one enthusiastic fan wrote on WeChat.
Others, though, criticized Liao’s accent. “Had I not heard of this song before, I wouldn’t know Liao is singing English,” one wrote. And the other said,”Adele would have forgotten this was originally sung by her if she had listened to this song.”
He sings entirely in English, except two lines that were replaced by Chinese dialect. In Adele’s version, “reaching a fever pitch” is followed by “it’s bringing me out of the dark,” while this version references “chewing betel nut,” an addictive stimulant popular in Hunan and other parts of Asia like Taiwan. After “rolling in the deep,” Liao sings in dialect, “a pig comes to our Ningxiang County.”