November 25, 2008 / 10:12 AM / 10 years ago

Beijing brushes off "Chinese Democracy"

BEIJING (Reuters) - China gave short shrift to rockers Guns N’ Roses’ controversial new album “Chinese Democracy” on Tuesday, saying the music was bad and that they were not that popular anyway.

Guns n Roses band member Axl Rose arrives for the British Grand Prix at the Silverstone race track in Northamptonshire, central England, June 11, 2006. REUTERS/Darren Staples

The band’s first album in 17 years was released on Sunday and its Geffen Records label has already said it thinks it unlikely to be approved for release in China.

“As far as I know, many people don’t like this kind of music,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news briefing. “It’s too noisy and clamorous.”

Formed in California in 1985, the band has sold over 100 million albums worldwide and won many international music awards. Their 1987 hit single “Sweet Child o’ Mine” is frequently voted one of the great rock tracks of all time.

But their new album has drawn a furious response from some Chinese Internet users, who accused the band of trying to stir up ill will against China. Others were more balanced.

“Forgive them, they haven’t been on top of the world for hundreds of years. It’s tough to avoid becoming outdated,” said one post on popular Chinese web portal (

The album is currently 34th in the Billboard Hot 100, according to the music chart website (

In one song, singer Axl Rose refers to members of the spiritual group Falun Gong, banned in China as an evil cult.

The artwork includes Beijing artist Shi Lifeng’s 2008 oil painting “Red Star,” which depicts the powerlessness of Chinese people in a state ruled by an iron fist. Photos of the Chinese military and the Hong Kong skyline also appear.

But the album is devoid of bad language or sexual references. That was not the case with the band’s last release, which did slip through the net in China.

The two “Use Your Illusion” albums from 1991 were rife with violent sexual imagery, vicious insults, cursing and homicidal thoughts. They were distributed by Beijing-based Dunhuang.

Still, China’s notorious copyright pirates may mean the last laugh could be on the Chinese government.

Beijing frequently bans films, books and songs, but they usually end up on street corners and in shops in pirated form.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie and Ian Ransom

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