Traditional music gets boost from girl power

Twelve beautiful girls wearing sexy costumes playing traditional Chinese music to a slow hip-hop backbeat? That’s no way to win over music purists.

Or is it?

Swaying gently as they pluck ancient instruments like the erhu, the guzheng or the yangqin, the 12 Girls Band is causing a storm in Asia with its brand of New-Age folk music.

The group’s “Beautiful Energy” album, released last July, sold 2 million copies. “The Miracle” has sold 380,000 copies and a live album has moved 200,000, making the 12 Girls China’s most successful musical export last year.

The formula is simple: Combine traditional Chinese music with a dozen hot girls.

Critics call it “folk techno-acoustic fusion.” The group’s manager, Wang Xiaojing prefers “visual folk music.”

“This is traditional music with charm, played by beautiful young girls,” says Wang, who admits a lot of the audience just shows up to admire the view.

Wang says rampant piracy makes trying to sell CDs in China pointless, so the biggest market for 12 Girls so far has been Japan.

The next stage in the master plan is to break into Europe and the U.S. Commercials touting the hot-bodied musicians have already begun popping up on latenight TV in the States.

Zhang Yimou took Gong Li up the red carpet at the Academy Awards, and I would like to take the 12 Girls Band up the red carpet of the Grammys,” says Wang.

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