Updated: 2013-09-03 11:03
By Xu Jingxi in Guangzhou (China Daily)
Kevin McGeary takes a break from filming the MV for the song Migrant Workers at Hubei Village in Shenzhen in 2012. Jesse Warren / for China Daily
Music and satire are global languages, and that understanding has inspired the act of Kevin McGeary, a Northern Irish guitarist-vocalist whose satirical Mandarin songs have captivated his host country's attention.
The 29-year-old says karaoke also pushed him toward this unique pastime.
"When people come to China and learn the language, they look for a way of connecting with locals," he says.
"China has a karaoke culture, so singing is one of the most obvious ways in which to do this."
McGeary taught himself Chinese after arriving in the country in 2007. A year later, he found karaoke was a door to the language and culture, when local friends invited him to join them for nights of crooning hits in Hunan province.
The English literature graduate found not only the teaching and journalism jobs that brought him to "the land of opportunity" but also the chance to develop a niche performance series.
Inspired by the Canadian musical comedy trio The Arrogant Worms, McGeary has written more than 20 satirical Chinese songs since 2011.
The guitar chords are simple and the vocals are ordinary. But the lyrics - snarky quips about such social issues as leftover women, migrant workers and nude photo scandals - are eyebrow raising.
In Shekou Romance, businessmen coming to Shenzhen from Taiwan keep sexy mistresses in Shekou while these young women love the men's money and passports. In another song, a migrant worker, who often eats food cooked with gutter oil and is looked down upon by material girls, dreams of becoming a boss and a playboy with a harem of mistresses.
"The extreme things in the songs are said for comic effect," McGeary says.