I’m pretty sure for most of us, the impression of Mandopop stayed at Jay Chou, Jolin Tsai and JJ Lin. And perhaps the last Chinese song you heard was maybe ‘Rainbow’ by Jay Chou and ‘Jiang Nan’ by JJ. This is quite normal actually, with the Hallyu being so addictive and people seeing Chinese songs as ‘not-so-nice’. Most of our generation are also listening more English songs, well we are English educated and a lot of us wants to prove so… No sarcasm intended.
Well I’m probably one of those rare species left that is still very much connected to Mandopop ever since childhood. Chinese is still my most comfortable language anyway. I have never tried to influence anyone to listen to new Chinese songs, but everyone gets sick and bored of routine stuff don’t they.
If you are one of those that are slightly inclined to listen to Chinese songs again, perhaps my recommendations will be extremely helpful while you browse through Spotify. I’ve chosen 2010 as a time marker just cuz it’s a suitable number HAHA, but also because some emerging superstars started out around this time, and by 5/6 years they have risen to quite a bit of fame. So in no particular order by the way, the following singers are really my favourites and ones to watch, I mean listen.
- Lala Hsu 徐佳莹
She is one of the newer breed of singer-songwriters and one of the more popular female ones. Most of the singer-songwriters of the new generation are in fact male, but this girl is really something. If you have sort of followed her initial journey, you might know her adapting a famous Hokkien Opera song into her big hit called 身骑白马 or the very very famous 失落沙洲 which she used to open her first appearance in ‘I am a Singer 4’.
In case you did not know, she has released 4 albums already since she released her first album in 2009 and won best newcomer award in 2010. Almost all of the songs are composed by her, and sometimes the lyrics are outsourced to other famous lyricist in the circle. I like her because she has a very soothing voice. There is something about the way she enunciates the lyrics that make you instantly touched. You know someone sings very well when he/she tells a story and that’s what she does extremely well at.
Strongly recommend: 你敢不敢 惧高症 失落沙洲 寻人启事 and if Chinese is tough for you, I shall translate them: Do you dare? ; Altophobia; depressed dessert (I LOLed); Missing person Notice.
- Li Ronghao 李荣浩
Another singer-songwriter of the present generation. His songs are very distinct in the sense that you could straightaway tell that it is from him. He has this very hoarse voice and again tells a story when he sings. He shot to fame after winning best newcomer in 2014, because nobody knew who he was prior to that. Although there are a lot of people that can’t sing but still releases albums, followers of Mandopop still know what is quality, and he is really one that delivers quality. Even my mum says he sings very well.
But there’s something which I find interesting is that he doesn’t pronounce the words that accurately sometimes, but nobody really points them out. I guess when you are good, nobody really nit-picks you that badly. His recent third album is really really good. His second one… I find it too commercialised. And well his first one, probably the best.
Strongly recommend: 李白 喜剧之王 野生动物 爸爸妈妈 (my current absolute favourite)
- Wei Li An 韦礼安
Another singer-songwriter. The thing about singer-songwriters that make them extremely successful, in my opinion, is that they know the story behind their songs which makes it easier for them to convey very well. His compositions are a lot less complicated than Li Ronghao though. He goes for more of the ‘country’ style as they say in the American music world. Those that you will love when you are driving late at night, or churning out some essays at night, his songs are the best companion.
Though his third album, he went totally off the radar and did a 180 degrees change. It showed greater maturity however. This is one album which you will listen at any time of the day but perhaps not at night cos there were more heavy beats and drums this time. But it’s still really good.
Strongly recommend: 有没有 累 沉船 面具
I honestly wanted to recommend 5 of them. But I realise they do not necessarily qualify as superstars. Moreover, my favourites like ‘林宥嘉 Yoga Lin’ and 大嘴巴 ‘Da Mouth’ technically came into the scene before 2010.
Everyone can be a singing talent, but what makes a superstar really takes all the stars to align at the same time. Some of our favourite singers might only be famous for just one song and they disappear. But I do think these 3 could be the next big superstars in the future if they continue to give us touching songs that you will still listen to 10 years from now. And I believe that they will.