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Did Beijing's Olympics Song Lift Parts Of 'Let It Go'?

Fireworks explode behind a skiing sculpture to celebrate Beijing being chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympics last week.
Jason Lee
Reuters /Landov
Fireworks explode behind a skiing sculpture to celebrate Beijing being chosen to host the 2022 Winter Olympics last week.

It starts with the opening bars of " The Snow and Ice Dance ," the song's critics say, then it builds: an eerie sense that the song — an official melody of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing — is a knockoff of the Disney hit "Let It Go," from the movie Frozen.

Or maybe it's not so eerie. Discussing the two songs' similarities online, some commenters say the idea that a Chinese song would cross the line between inspiration and imitation fits with the country's reputation for plagiarism and copyright infringement.

And then there are the critics of Beijing's plan to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, who say the reference to Frozen is the only thing that's wintry about the city's bid.

We'll embed both of the songs below, so you can compare them. Many people suggest paying particular attention to the beginning piano lines, and two portions of the Chinese song:

  • The 23-second mark, which prompted one YouTube commenter to write, "don't let them in don't let them see" — a line from "Let It Go."
  • The 1:14 mark, where a commenter asked in Chinese if it makes anyone else want to burst into the Disney song.
  • From The New York Times:

    "Caijing Online, the website of a prominent Chinese business magazine, also noted the similarities, and offered a technical analysis that went beyond the melodic parallels. Among the main points: Both songs employ a piano as the major instrument, have similar prelude chords and an eight-beat introduction, and they run at almost exactly the same tempo."

    The Wall Street Journal reports:

    "Several Internet users have created their own side-by-side or simultaneous comparisons of the songs and uploaded them online. One, posted on China's Weibo microblogs, is accompanied by subtitles bemoaning the similarities between the two, such as: 'This is a loss of face on an international level!' "

    Much of the criticism of Beijing's plan to become the first city ever to host both the Summer and Winter games has rested on practical and social grounds. There's not enough snow for winter sports and China hasn't done enough to improve its human rights record, critics say.

    News out of China this week suggests those stories won't be going away. Hikers and other outdoors enthusiasts are complaining that Beijing's plan for alpine events would also impinge on an important nature reserve. The South China Morning Post reports:

    "Construction of the sites and future snow-making, they say, could damage an important 'ecological barrier' that helps Beijing — a victim of chronic air pollution — ward off sandstorms."

    The Hong Kong newspaper adds that online posts questioning the wisdom of the move were deleted by state censors.

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    Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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