The word ‘decadent’ is an ironic echo of early PRC condemnation of music such as that of Taiwanese singer Teresa Tang's music as mǐmǐ zhī yue (靡靡之樂). The title of this album is a pun: during the Cultural Revolution, Teng's songs were condemned as "decadent sounds" (靡靡之音) by the Communist Party of China. The album title is literally translated as Faye's Decadent Music (菲靡靡之音), but as the character "菲" (fēi, i.e. the name Faye in Mandarin) has the same pronunciation as the related character "非" (fēi, no/not/non prefix in Classical Mandarin), the title can also be construed as "Non-Decadent Sounds".
Word play on Faye's name 菲fēi in Mandarin has also been used on two Cinepoly compilation albums: 菲卖品 Fēi mài pǐn ("Faye sale product", a pun on 非卖品 fēi mài pǐn, "Not-for-sale product") and 菲主打 Fēi zhǔdǎ ("Faye main beat", a pun on 非主打 Fēi zhǔdǎ "not main beat").
The album consists entirely of cover versions of songs originally released by her idol Teresa Teng, one of the most revered Chinese singers of the 20th century. Teng's music remains extremely popular in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and mainland China. A duet was planned for the album, but Teng died before this could be recorded; Wong considered scrapping the project out of respect. However, Faye sang this duet, Li Bai's "清平調" with Teresa posthumously in a memorial celebrating her 60th birthday.
Decadent Sounds sold quite well despite initial negative criticism. It has come to be recognised as a classic by her fans and is held as an example of imaginative covering by recent critics. Not only did Wong show that she shared Teresa Teng's clear, sweet singing voice, but the arrangements added an unexpected freshness to many of the songs.
^Daniel Kane, The Chinese Language; Its History and Current Usage, 2006, p137. Nouns are negated in Classical Chinese with fei, which appears in modern words such as fei guanfang "unofficial," Ni fei fa "illegal," and feidian "atypical [pneumonia]" (SARS). Feimaipin "not-for-sale product" is a free."