Saturday was China's annual online shopping holiday, an event that's way bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group brought Chinese and international stars to perform at four-hour televised variety show leading up to the start of online shopping at midnight, and Pharrell Williams was one of the guests, along with Jessie J, Maria Sharapova and Nicole Kidman.
Williams sang with Chinese-Canadian megastar Kris Wu, who appeared on a hit show called "The Rap of China," China's first hip-hop singing contest. Their duet, written by Wu and Williams, is called "Double Eleven Day," which is the official name of Alibaba's shopping event because it takes place on Nov. 11, or 11/11. (It's also sometimes called Singles Day, because the event got its start as an underground celebration for the unmarried before Alibaba decided to rebrand it as a shopping day.)
The lyrics are vague, without explicit references to shopping. But it seems to be about the power of China's consumers. China is very proud of the size of the event, a testament to the strength of its economy. And Williams seems to be referring to that in some lyrics, like, "Show the world your human powers, you know what they say/Double Eleven Day." At one point, Williams repeatedly shouts "Zhongguo!" That's the Chinese name for China.
The event was very brand heavy -- you'll notice a few logos for Chinese smartphone brand Vivo on stage and on the screen. Kris Wu is a Burberry ambassador, which may explain his choice of wardrobe, a matchy-matchy shirt and shorts in Burberry's signature tan plaid.
Incidentally, Alibaba tallied $25.3 billion in transactions during the 24-hour shopping event. Zhongguo!