C-Pop: What Is It –Artists And Groups You Need To Know

Language sense is one of the most important parts of any language. In daily communication, language sense can greatly improve the quality of communication. One of the key benefit of listening to the songs in a foreign language, can make the brain subtly accept the language sense. In addition, the sentences in the song are the most commonly used sentences and the most authentic sentences. The rhythm of songs sometimes fast and sometimes slow requires accurate pronunciation, which will be of great help to the pronunciation of foreign language learners. Because of the culture and language differences between Chinese and foreign languages, listen to the Chinese pop music is an effective way for Chinese learners to understand Chinese culture and the way they speak. Today let’s take a look at what Chinese pop is and what the artists and band groups that we should know.

  1. What is Chinese Pop Music

Chinese pop refers to songs sung in Mandarin, Cantonese and other northern dialects. It is popular in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and other common Chinese speaking communities, and has some influence outside the Chinese community, such as South Korea, Japan and other places. Chinese pop originated in mainland China in the 1930s. The proper Chinese pop music has started in the late 1960s and 1970s. During the period of time, a number of influential songwriters, composers and singers emerged in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Taiwan folk music influenced the musical style of Chinese music in the following decades and is the cornerstone of modern Taiwanese pop music. In Hong Kong, Michael Hui’s album “Ghost and Horse” was released, representing the birth of modern pop music in Hong Kong.

In the 1980s, Taiwan and Hong Kong entered a glorious the era, and a number of famous musicians came into people’s sight one after another. Taiwan has Tayu Lo and Qi Yu, while In Hong Kong, there are Alan Tam, Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung, with The Ming School, Beyond and Yilan Lam occupying half world of the music industry. In the mid and late 1980s, rock musicians represented by Cui Jian and Magic Rock appeared in the mainland. By the 1990s, the “Four Kings of Hong Kong”, Faye Wong, Sammi Cheng and Eason Chan occupied the Hong Kong musical industry, while Taiwan was represented by Coco Lee and A-mei Cheung at that time. In mainland China, Na Ying, Tian Zhen, Sun Nan and others appeared. But the Chinese musical market was almost dominated by the Hong Kong musicians. In the 2000s, Hong Kong’s music icons appears to be less influential, there is Nicholas Tse and Edison Chen. The mainland has become the stage for the talent show. F4 opened the door for idol singers, the singers such as Zhe Tao, Jay Chou, Leehom Wang, Mayday, Ah Do, Jj Lin, Stefanie Sun, Jolin Tsai, Ya-xuan Hsiao, Angela Chang and Rainie Yang, dominating the mainland and Taiwan markets. After the year of 2010, a large number of Internet songs appeared, and the “QQ Music Singers” composed of Xu Song, Wang Sulong and Xu Liang beat the mainstream singers.  Of course, the Internet can also create idols. However, many say that the Chinese musical industry is in decline during this period. Other people believe that the rise of online songs cannot simply be seen as a decline in music, but also reflects a change in social ethos and mainstream aesthetic.

2. Artists and bands that you should know

The below are some musical artists and bands who have had a profound influence on Chinese music.

(1). Teresa Teng


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Known as the “first person” in Chinese music industry. Teresa Teng had the most comprehensive singing skills, she was good at singing love songs, jazz, rock, and dance. In terms of influence, she is the most influential Chinese singer at home and abroad. There is a saying in China that “Wherever there are Chinese people, there will be Teng’s voice”, and abroad, she also was very popular in the Japanese music industry. In 2010 she was named by CNN as one of the 20 most famous musicians in the world. Teresa Teng’s main achievement is that she is the enlightenment of pop songs in the mainland, she changed the mainland’s prejudices about pop songs. And that’s why many professional music critics have pushed Teresa Teng to the top. Her signature tune include 《小城故事》“A small town story”, 《我只在乎你》“I only care about You”, 《爱人》“Lover”, 《千言万语》 “a Thousand Words” etc.

 (2). Tayu Lo

He is known as the “godfather” of Chinese music. Tayu Lo’s influences is like Bob Dylan to Chinese music. His music is full of humanistic atmosphere and grand pattern, which makes his works have amazing vitality. If there is a weakness in Lo, it is that he is one of the best writers in history with negligible singing ability. Most of his songs were not made famous by himself, which is a bit of a disadvantage as a singer, but it still doesn’t affect his status in Chinese music. His signature songs include 《童年》“Childhood”, 《光阴的故事》“The story of time”, 《明天会更好》“Tomorrow will be Better”, 《滚滚红尘》“Rolling red dust”, 《亚西亚孤儿》“Orphan of Asia”, etc., all of them are classic work.

(3). Jonathan Lee

He is both a music producer and a singer. His music theme is quite rich, representative works are 《真心英雄》”True hero”, 《爱如潮水》”Love like tide”, 《领悟》”Understanding” etc. Like Lo, he didn’t sing most of his songs by himself. His work on love songs should be second to none.

(4). Jacky Cheung

He is known as the “first person” in the Chinese music industry during the 1990s. In the 1990s, there was a popular saying among Chinese people: Where the wind blows, there is the song of Jacky Cheung. He also has the largest number of concerts record in the Chinese music history. In terms of influence, Jacky Cheung is undoubtedly one of the most influential musicians in Hong Kong. His signature songs include 《吻别》“Kiss Goodbye”, 《想和你去吹吹风》“Along the way with you”, and 《一千个伤心的理由》“A thousand reasons to be sad” etc.

(5). Anita Mui

Anita Mui had a variety of musical styles. In 2009, the World Record Association rated her as “the Chinese female singer in the world had the largest number of solo concerts” with 292 of concerts. She had won the Highest honor in Hong Kong’s music industry, the Golden Needle Award, and the China Golden Record Award (national Music Award) for her artistic achievement, which made her the first Hong Kong singer to receive the National Music and Art Achievement Award of China. Her signature songs include:《似是故人来》”It seems like an old friend”, 《女人花》”Woman flower”, 《坏女孩》”Bad girl”, 《亲密爱人》”Intimate lover” etc.

 (6). Beyond

Beyond is a Hong Kong rock band , is one of the most influential bands in the Chinese music industry. Its success lies in their perfect combination of commerciality and rock spirit. The band was formed in 1983 by Wong Ka Ju, Wong Kwun Chung, Wong Ka keung and Yip Sai Wing. Beyond’s music is full of vitality and power. Their music is melodic and easy to attract fans. Moreover, their works are realistic and highly sensitive to culture, humanity, social environment and even politics. Some of their works have profound ideological significance that is rare during the specific period of time, such as’ Glorious Days’, which calls for the elimination of racial barriers; ‘AMANI’, which accuses the cruelty of war and hopes for the future of peace; and ‘Sea and Sky’, which expresses its love for freedom. They elevated the rock ‘n’ roll spirit of “music and anger” to the heights of “peace and love.” Later, lead singer Wong Ka-kui died, and the band continued to grow as a three-member group. Their signature songs are 《光辉岁月》”Glorious Days”, 《大地》”The Earth”, 《海阔天空》”The Sea and the Sky”, 《真的爱你》”Really Love you” etc.

(7). Cui Jian

Cui Jian is a male singer and musician in mainland China. Its musical styles include rock, folk, blues, reggae, funk, rap and Chinese folk music. He is known as the “father of Chinese rock and roll”, and people say that his music represents the highest level of Chinese rock and roll. His music influenced the creation of many later pop and rock musicians. Cui Jian’s singing is very infectious and inflammatory. His signature songs include 《一无所有》“Nothing to lose”, 《新长征路上的摇滚》 “Rock on the New Long March”, 《快让我在雪地上撒点儿野》“Let me be wild in the snow”, 《不是我不明白》“Not that I don’t understand”, and 《无能的力量》“The power of incapacity” etc.

 (8). Faye Wong

As one of the iconic figures in the Chinese music world, Faye Wong’s voice quality and singing skills are close to perfection. By successfully incorporating elements such as alternative female voices and Brit Pop into her works, she has somewhat overturned the order of Pop music in Hong Kong, and is an iconic singer in the Chinese music industry that has gone from single to diverse. She is well known in Asia and the Chinese world for her unique voice and “Faye singing style”. Her signature songs include《红豆》 “Red Beans”, 《人间》“Human World”, 《容易受伤的女人》“Vulnerable Women”, 《我愿意》 “I Do”, and 《梦中人》“People in Dreams” etc.

 (9). Jay Chou

Jay Chou is a revolutionary and iconic singer in the Chinese pop music market, as well as a musician who has a deep influence on the Chinese music industry. His combination of local Chinese culture and R&B music has largely elevated the status of songwriters in the Chinese music industry. He is not only good at R&B, rap, Western classical piano etc, the classic Chinese style songs is one of his characteristics in every album. He blended hip-hop and R&B singing into Chinese traditional music, making Chinese style become the mainstream of Chinese music. He was named by CNN as one of the 25 most influential people in Asia in 2009. His signature songs include 《七里香》“Common Jasmin Orange”, 《范特西》”Fantasy” , 《青花瓷》“Blue and White Porcelain”, 《双截棍》 “Nunchaku”, 《简单爱》“Simple Love”,《爱在西元前》 “Love before BC”, etc.

(10). Eason Chan

Eason Chan is one of the most representative figures in Hong Kong’s mainstream music market and has been hailed as the “successor to Jacky Cheung”. Eason Chan has made a name for himself in The Hong Kong music industry with his laid-back, quirky style. He can not only sing love songs from his heart, but also has a multi-faceted personality and thinking, which makes him competent for almost all types of songs. His signature songs include《K歌之王》 “King of Karaoke”, 《十年》”Ten Years”, “Sleep Alone”, 《富士山下》”Fuji Mountain”, etc.

(11). Leehom Wang

Together with Jay Chou, Leehom Wang represent the R&B era of Chinese music. Wang Leehom has the strength and ability that most musicians dream of: he is a top student of a well-known American conservatory of music, with good music foundation and creative ability; He is not only talented, but also quite good looking. In addition to his proficiency in composing, and playing most instruments, he also speaks many languages, thus impressing the audience with his versatility. He not only created the concept of “Chinked Out”, but also boldly tried to integrate the traditional Chinese musical instruments into the mainstream Western music style. His signature songs include 《公转自转》”Revolution”, 《你不在》”You Are Not Here”, 《心中的日月》”Sun and Moon in My Heart”, 《大城小爱》”Big City Love”, “Forever Love” etc.

(12). Na ying

Na Ying is a female singer from mainland China. Her slightly gravelly voice is unique, magnetic and explosive. She is one of the most iconic figures in Chinese pop. Her representative works include 《征服》”Conquest”, 《雾里看花》”Looking at Flowers in the Fog”, 《白天不懂夜的黑》”Don’t understand the Darkness of night by day”, 《一笑而过》”Laugh it off” etc.

(13). Mayday

Mayday, a Chinese rock band from Taiwan, is composed of five members. It has won the best Orchestra of the Year award and the Most popular group of the year award in various competitions in the Chinese music industry. They break the wild impression of a rock band and present fresh and healthy youthful vitality. Their songs give their fans a sense of positive, optimistic and enterprising values. Their signature songs include 《志明与春娇》“Love in a Puff”, 《温柔》”Tender”, 《突然好想你》”Miss You So Much”, 《诺亚方舟》”Noah’s Ark”, and 《离开地球表面》”Leave the Surface of the Earth”.

(14). Jolin Tsai

Jolin Tsai is a symbol of Taiwan’s music industry after 2000. She is versatile and has outstanding strength in singing and dance as a singer. She has won many awards such as best Mandarin Female Singer, Best Album at Taiwan Golden Melody Awards and Most Popular Female Singer. Her representative works include 《说爱你》”Say I Love You”, 《爱情36计》”Love 36 Plan”, 《倒带》“Rewind”, 《舞娘》”Dancing Girl”,《看我72变》 “Seventy Two changes”, 《我知道你很难过》”I know you are sad” etc.

 (15). Lay

Chinese mainland male singer who made his debut as a member of South Korean group EXO and its sub-group EXO-M, and later returned to the mainland. Lay’s status as a leading dancer in the group EXO has long been noted for his versatility, and he is now one of mainland China’s most popular idol male singers and actors. His signature songs include 《一个人》”One Person,” 《祈愿》”Prayer,” 《独角戏》 “One-man Show” and “Lose Control”etc.

From the development of Chinese music, it can be seen that Chinese pop music is becoming more diversified, not only in musical style, but also in the innovation of various elements. It may be an inevitable development trend of Chinese pop music to create new pop music by more combination of Western pop music and Chinese elements. Since the 1970s, the Chinese music industry has seen the emergence of a large number of outstanding singers, each with its own distinctive voice, who have had some influences in the their time. We can’t list all of them here. We can only pick 15 of the most iconic and influential singers from different periods. If you have time to listen to their songs, we believe you will have a different perception of Chinese music.