5 things about Canto-rock band Beyond's Boundless Oceans Vast Skies, unofficial anthem of Hong Kong protesters

A sea of lights as protesters hold up their mobile phones while blocking the main road to the financial district in Hong Kong on Sept 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A sea of lights as protesters hold up their mobile phones while blocking the main road to the financial district in Hong Kong on Sept 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

A day after braving tear gas, pepper spray and baton charges, the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters were in a festive mood as they occupied key parts of the city following the police's withdrawal.

A protester raises his umbrellas in front of tear gas which was fired by riot police to disperse protesters blocking the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, Sept 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Protesters using umbrellas to block pepper spray from riot policemen, as tens of thousands of protesters block the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sept 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

As they indulged in mass sing-along sessions on the streets, one song was clearly the crowd favourite: Canto-rock band Beyond's Boundless Oceans Vast Skies. 

Here are five things you need to know about the ballad that has captured the imagination of Hong Kongers staking out Central, Causeway Bay, Admiralty, Mong Kok and other iconic locations. 

1) The monster hit was released in 1993 and the fact that many of the student protesters belting out the lyrics by heart were not even born then, is testament to the song's enduring popularity. Indeed, the song is just over two decades old while student leader Joshua Wong is just 17. 

Everything in the video, from the floppy fringes to the baggy shirts worn over inner T-shirts, screams the 1990s. 

2) As for the lyrics, why have the words been etched so deeply in the collective memory of Hong Kong society? For one thing, the lyrics are highly literary, alluding to one's struggles to stay true to one's ideals while facing the inevitable headwinds and storms in life.

The chorus translates roughly as:

Forgive me for loving freedom all my life,Though I'm afraid of falling one day,Anyone can give up one's ideals,But I won't fear even if there's just you and me. 

These are sentiments that the demonstrators no doubt identify with, having been battered by the elements of searing heat in the afternoons and sudden downpours at night over the last few days. 

Protesters taking shelter from the rain under umbrellas as they block the main street to the financial Central district outside of the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sept 30, 2014. --PHOTO: REUTERS 

3) Supporters of the Umbrellas Movement have adopted the song as their rallying cry. Its ubiquity is not just on the streets, but online as well. For instance, this three-minute video makes its sympathies clear as it pairs aerial footage of the throngs of protesters with background music from the slow-rock ballad. 

 

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4) The band's lead vocallist and guitarist Wong Ka Kui wrote the song as an indictment of Hong Kong's music industry in the 1990s, reported the Wall Street Journal.

5) Tragically, it was Wong's last song with Beyond. The star fell off a stage during a Japanese game show in Tokyo and died at the height of the band's popularity in the same year the song was released. The rest of the members - Wong's brother Wong Ka Keung, Yip Sai Wing and Paul Wong - moved on to solo careers after his death but never found the same success they enjoyed as Beyond.