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Hong Kong performer sings coronavirus parody of Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’

By Jen Paolini 18 February 2020

Header image courtesy of @katmakattack / Instagram

If the doom and gloom of the news is bringing you down in the time of novel coronavirus, you might be cheered to know that the internet always provides, and right now, it is providing some much-needed humour to help us combat our self-imposed quarantines.

As the city increases its effort to contain the disease, one person, in particular, is leading the charge against the negativity of the headlines. Seasoned Hong Kong singer and performer Kathy Mak is going viral with her coronavirus-themed parody of Natalie Imbruglia’s 1997 mega-hit Torn. Watch it below and try not to laugh and sing along.

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First performed at a fundraising event for Australian bush fire relief efforts at Central’s Social Room, Mak’s comedic version of the angst-ridden song drew laughs and applause from the crowd and is now racking up views on social media not just in Hong Kong, but in coronavirus-stricken Singapore as well.

And really, with lyrics like “Back during SARS, I was just a child/Didn’t seem to know, didn’t seem to care about the virus running wild/But now I’m freaking out all right/I sterilise, I sanitise/My hands are always frickin’ dry,” what’s not to like? Personally, we’re in awe of the fact that Mak managed to get her hands on a bottle of hand sanitiser (which she applies liberally at the end of her set).

Photo credit: @katmakattack / Instagram

Netizens have commented on the uplifting qualities of her parody and praised her comedic performance during this difficult and uncertain time. “Thank you for bringing laughter to all of us living through this in Hong Kong precisely when we needed it,” one user expressed amongst the hundreds of comments on Mak’s YouTube upload.

Mak, a veteran of local productions and Hong Kong’s Secret Theatre shows, told Localiiz that “when preparing for the fundraiser event, I wanted to sing something light and cheerful. Since I have done a parody before which my friends liked, I thought it would be perfect to do one about what everyone is going through. It took me a few hours over about three days. [...] I chose Torn because I love the song and singing it. Then, one line of the parody lyrics came to mind and then I knew this is the one and wrote the remaining lyrics.”

“While writing it, I did think my friends would really like it if I shared it, but I didn’t anticipate the amount of attention it’s gotten now,” she admits. “[I’m] so glad to have made so many people laugh.”

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Jen Paolini

Content director

Born in Hong Kong, raised in Germany, and educated in the U.S., Jen is an award-winning creative with a background in illustration, communication design, art direction, and content creation. When she’s not getting lost in a good book, you’ll find her doing crosswords, eating dim sum, covering all sides of a “Hamilton” number, and taking naps.