By that time of day, even the lazy bones were getting up. There were still plenty of students without morning classes online. When they saw the post, they clicked away.
There were also those who couldn’t bother to click and joined the chitchat instead.
Guitar’s Flight: What kind of song can wake you up with coolness?
Handsome’s Cool Song: "Hehe, My Dear."
Swimming Fish: What?
Handsome’s Cool Song: Go search for it yourself. I’m out, gotta grab a bite. Got a date with the God of Dreams this afternoon.
Mi Yu My Love: Wait! Are you talking about that "God of Dreams," one of the three hypnotist extraordinaires at our school?
Handsome’s Cool Song: Precisely.
Guitar’s Flight: I’m gonna check out the song.
Swimming Fish: Me too!
Mi Yu My Love: Same here!
Others monitoring the conversation also clicked on the song as a result. They also wanted to know what song could withstand the hypnosis treatment of the God of Dreams.
"God of Dreams" was the nickname for an old professor at the school who still hadn’t retired. He used to teach philosophy, but now he had crossed over to music arrangement. The old geezer suffered from low energy in recent years, so he switched to teaching electives. There were only a handful of electives, which also demanded less of teachers than the required courses.
The problem was this particular professor was an agonizingly slow speaker. To paraphrase the students, Professor Zhou spoke like a sloth, putting everyone to sleep. Students had repeatedly petitioned Prof. Zhou to lecture by webcast instead, but he refused.
Though the class was sheer hypnosis, attendance was still mandatory. It would make sense for students to steer clear of his class, but the thing was that the course was credit-rich, so quite a few students signed up. Thus there were tons of people being hypnotized. Upon hearing the student gossip, a young lecturer wasn’t convinced and decided to see for himself. He never showed up again. No one saw the lecturer sitting in on Prof. Zhou’s class again.
Prof. Zhou had seniority and he had contributed to the school’s success, so no one dared confront him. Those who did didn’t want to deal with him, so Prof. Zhou’s class kept being offered. Over the years, Prof. Zhou got addicted to the class. He was strict in class. Students could ignore his lecture but they were absolutely banned from doing anything else, including sleeping. Serious infractions led to docked credit.
That day, Prof. Zhou strolled into the classroom casually and scanned his audience. He had poor vision—it seemed like a big crowd, so he thought attendance was good.
In keeping with routine, he checked his surveillance footage, examining every corner of the massive classroom that fit nearly 1,000 students. Good, no one was playing with their bracelets. The same case with other angles.
This pleased Prof. Zhou immensely. The only weird thing was that the students in class looked like zombies, staring upward as if their spirits had left their bodies, a group of thinkers in communion with the stars and planets. In other words, collective daydreaming.
Prof. Zhou would have ignored one or two isolated daydreamers, but the longer he lectured, the weirder the vibe. It wasn’t just a select few, not even a minority—most of the class was daydreaming.
Prof. Zhou slowed down and eventually came to a halt. There was something off in the atmosphere. He couldn’t continue.
Prof. Zhou pressed a button. "XXX, please repeat what I just said."
The student who was called upon was awoken by the flashing light on his desk, which indicated that he had been summoned. He wanted to get up and say that he hadn't caught what the professor had just said, but instead he mumbled mysteriously, "Hehe."
Prof. Zhou: "…..."
The other students yelled, "Damn, that was bold!"
Old Prof. Zhou dismissed his class with a sullen look on his face. He also exited at a much brisker pace, unlike his sloth-like movement of the past. The students were spooked, wary of a brewing storm.
In no mood to pay heed to the student reaction, Old Prof. Zhou got online as soon as he returned to his office. He had learned from his students what the problem was. As soon as he logged on he headed for the sample.
Donning his headset, Old Prof. Zhou wanted to give it a good listen. What kind of song would wreak such havoc on his class?
When he heard the human voice at the beginning of the song, Old Prof. Zhou’s furrowed brows sunk more deeply. "What kind of crap are the kids singing these days…"
Prof. Zhou picked up a pen and was about to write a critique, but his movement and train of thought were halted abruptly by the prelude.
He took a deep breath when the song ended. He tapped the blank piece of paper with the tip of his pen and put the pen down, instead browsing the song’s credits, shifting his attention to the name of the composer on a secondary page.
After scanning the credits, Old Prof. Zhou posted: "I discovered a new song that I want to recommend today. The arrangement is quite interesting and defies convention. The fresh grads over at Qi’an Academy of Music this year are quite something!"
"Haha, there are scarcely any songs that elicit this kind of praise from you. And to think it’s the work of a newcomer. Gotta check it out." Old friends expressed curiosity. Even friends who didn’t know a lick about music arrangement joined the fray.
Two days later.
It was time for Prof. Zhou’s elective again.
The students were extra attentive. They didn’t get online or wear headsets. Even if they did, they didn’t turn on the music. They wanted to see how the "God of Dreams" would behave today. He was in such a foul mood when class ended last time, which had left them wondering for two days. They were worried that the God of Dreams would flunk the entire class.
Yet they were surprised to find Old Prof. Zhou in a decent mood when he entered the classroom.
Old Prof. Zhou scanned the classroom and turned on the projector. "We’re going to analyze a new song today. This is important material. It’ll be on the final."
At the back of the room, three words appeared, flashing on the 10-meter tall screen: "Hehe, My Dear."
Before the screen stood Prof. Zhou’s smiling face.
The audience: "…..."
That evening, a group of upcoming graduates held a gathering to mark the end of their student days.
The karaoke bar was a splendid place to vent. A waiter smiled professionally as he emerged from a private box carrying a tray. His smile was impeccable, but he was sighing inside.
Pre-graduation breakups were very common. Every year around this time, they saw quite a few imminent graduates who were especially emotional.
In the private box on the left, a young man about 1.9 meters tall was tearfully mourning his university-era relationship. In the box on the right, a petite young woman was singing a heartbreaking ballad with her bellowing voice.
Sigh… these kids.
The waiter let out a long, imaginary sigh, but he gave no further thought to the matter. All they had to do was keep smiling. Remembering that business was up and they were due a bonus this month, his smile widened.
Inside the private box on the left the waiter had just passed.
Seven students were sharing a meal. They had stopped after a round of singing, shutting the projector and stereo system. Six of the students consoled the tall, bulky young man sitting in the middle. The music was gone and the mood somber.
"Say, I haven’t checked my little secretary’s recommendations today." A tall and slender young man sitting on the side tried to change topics, seeing as the consoling was going nowhere.
The "little secretary" he spoke of was a special function part of the hit music app Intimately You Music. It recommended songs and tailored playlists based on your listening history, just like similar functions, except that, for a surcharge, you could pick an avatar for it.
As he launched his app, the tall, skinny young man was ecstatic. "My little secretary is Mi Yu, yo."
As he spoke, Mi Yu’s slender body appeared on top of his bracelet as if she had sauntered in from afar. At the same time, a passionate voice announced, "Welcome back to Intimately You Music."
"F*ck, you set Mi Yu as your little secretary! It must have cost a fortune!" The other students were jealous.
A pop idol’s images generated royalties. The hotter the star, the higher the royalty. Mi Yu was the talk of the town, so she commanded high royalties. Most fans weren’t willing to splurge on a tailored "little secretary."
The tall, skinny student was reveling in the attention and about to show off, but considering the presence of a heartbroken brother, he held back, saying instead, "Let’s see what my little secretary recommended today." He’d been listening to a lot of upbeat music, so today’s recommendations should be able to lift spirits.
"I listen to whatever Mi Yu recommends." This was a diehard Mi Yu fan, even though what he was referring to was actually just a music app that used Mi Yu’s likeness.
"Yeah, let’s check it out! Let’s build up the mood again!"
Rowdiness was the best antidote for negative emotion. They were going all out to comfort their sensitive, heartbroken dormmate.
The app was connected to the stereo system in the private room.
A laughter that exuded part self-pity, part sadness erupted.
The entire room went silent, including the heartbroken student still mired in depression, and shifted their gaze to the tall, skinny student, as if complaining, "This is your style? This is your way of building the mood? This is what you mean by upbeat?"
The tall, skinny student started sulking too. He wanted to lash out at his "little secretary," but seeing Mi Yu’s perfect face, he couldn’t do it. Instead he mumbled, "So that’s the kind of little secretary you are."
"It’s OK. Let’s generate another song." The tall, skinny student had raised his hand, but he froze when the laughter ended and the prelude began.
A slightly retro chorus, a jumpy beat, and a jumble of instruments appeared like a gathering sandstorm.
"It’s been a long time
Since we last spoke.
In the same city
Too many pictures bring us to a halt.
I’m a bit nervous."
The lead vocals, the chorus, and the instrumental performance blended perfectly to paint a certain setting, where the protagonist was an abandoned traveler soldiering alone, trudging along as he remembered past events and encounters.
Electronic music was common, familiar to listeners of the day, but the electronic music in this song defied categories. Refined listeners could tell what school the composer hailed from, but in the case of this song, they were clueless.
The front half of the song was sad and repressed. The high notes were tearjerkers. But gradually, the melody shifted. After a beautiful, spirited base performance, the song rose to another level and became more epic.
The torrid emotions that were gushing like a raging flood were suddenly plugged by a sturdy dam. The listener was transported to a roller coaster about to soar into the horizon.
Sometimes a song was worth a thousand words.
In the private room, the student sitting in the middle wiped his tears and snot. "What’s this song called? I want to sing it."
The tall, skinny student came to his senses, frowning when he heard the question but eventually eking out a smile. "It’s a new song. It’s not in the system yet."
"Then I’ll sing without the music."
The others opened their mouths but refrained from speaking. "Sure! "Whatever makes you happy."
What a horrible feeling it was listening to an off-pitch singer belt out a passionate solo.
When the tall fellow sang the first "he," the other students grimaced and pulled out their headsets.
Forget it, they were better off listening to the original.