|Stylistic origins||Chinese music • Hip hop • R&B • New wave • Pop • Rock|
|Cultural origins||1920s–1940s, China|
|Typical instruments||Vocals, Piano, Violin, Guitar, Drum, synthesizer|
|Cantopop • Taiwanese pop • J-pop • K-pop • C-Rock|
Mandopop (simplified Chinese: 华语流行音乐; traditional Chinese: 華語流行音樂; pinyin: Huáyǔ liúxíng yīnyuè; Jyutping: Waa4jyu5 lau4hang4 jam1ngok6), or Mandapop, is a colloquial abbreviation for "Mandarin popular music." The English term "Mandopop" was coined around 1980 soon after "Cantopop" became a popular term for describing popular song in Cantonese, and "Mandopop" was then used to describe Mandarin-language popular songs of that time, which were often versions of Cantopop songs sung by the same singers with different lyrics to suit the different rhyme and tonal patterns of Mandarin. It is now used as a general term to describe popular songs performed in Mandarin.
Mandopop is categorized as a subgenre of commercial Chinese-language music within C-pop. Mandopop was the first variety of popular music in Chinese to establish itself as a viable industry. It originated in Shanghai, and later Hong Kong, Taipei and Beijing also emerged as important centers of the Mandopop music industry. Among the countries where Mandopop is most popular are China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore.
- 1 History
- 2 Characteristics
- 3 Industry
- 4 Notable Artists
- 5 Awards
- 6 Mandopop radio stations
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Beginning of recording industry in China
The Chinese-language music industry began with the arrival of gramophone, and the earliest gramophone recording in China was made in Shanghai in March 1903 by Fred Gaisberg who was sent by the Victor Talking Machine Company (VTMC) in the U.S. to record local music in Asia. The recordings were then manufactured outside China and re-imported by the Gramophone Company’s sales agent in China, the Moutrie (Moudeli) Foreign Firm. The Moudeli Company dominated the market before the 1910s until the Baak Doi (Chinese: 百代; pinyin: bǎi dài) or Pathé Records took over the leading role. The Pathé recording company was founded in 1908 by a Frenchman named Labansat who had previously started a novelty entertainment business using phonograph in Shanghai around the beginning of the 20th century. The company established a recording studio, and the first record-pressing plant in the Shanghai French Concession in 1914, and became the principal record company to serve as the backbone for the young industry in China. It originally recorded mainly Peking opera, but later expanded to Mandarin popular music. Other foreign as well as Chinese-own recording companies were also later established.
Early in the 20th century, people in China generally spoke in their own regional dialect. Although most people in Shanghai then spoke Shanghainese, the recordings of the pop music from Shanghai from the 1920s onwards were done in Mandarin, which is based on the Beijing dialect. Mandarin was then considered as the language of the modern, educated class in China, and there was a movement to popularize the use of Mandarin as a national language in the pursuit of national unity. The drive to impose linguistic uniformity in China started in early 20th century when the Qing Ministry of Education proclaimed Mandarin as the official speech to be taught in modern schools, a policy the new leaders of the Chinese Republic formed in 1912 were also committed to. Sound films in Shanghai which started in the early 1930s were also made in Mandarin because of a ban on the use of dialects in films by the then Nanjing government, and popular songs from film were therefore also in Mandarin.
1920s: Birth of shidaiqu in Shanghai
Mandarin popular songs that started in the 1920s were called shidaiqu (時代曲 - meaning music of the time, thus popular music), and Shanghai was the center of its production. The Mandarin popular songs of the Shanghai era are considered by scholars to be the first kind of modern popular music developed in China, and the prototype of later Chinese pop song. Li Jinhui is generally regarded as the "Father of Chinese Popular Music" who established the genre in the 1920s. Buck Clayton, the American jazz musician, also worked alongside Li. Li established the Bright Moon Song and Dance Troupe (明月歌舞团), and amongst their singing stars were Wang Renmei and Li Lili. There was a close relationship between the music and film industries and some of its singers also became actresses.
Around 1927, Li composed the hit song "The Drizzle" ("毛毛雨") recorded by his daughter Li Minghui (黎明暉), and this song is often regarded as the first Chinese pop song. The song, with its fusion of jazz and Chinese folk music, exemplifies the early shidaiqu - the tune is in the style of a traditional pentatonic folk melody, but the instrumentation is similar to that of an American jazz orchestra. The song however was sung in a high-pitched childlike style, a style described uncharitably as sounding like "strangling cat" by the writer Lu Xun. Later recordings of these songs by other singers were more sophisticated. In the following decades, various popular Western music genres such as Latin dance music would also become incorporated into Chinese popular music. Songs may be composed in the traditional Chinese idiom but followed a Western principle of composition, and may be accompanied by traditional Chinese or Western instrumentation, while some songs may be done largely in the Western style.
1930s–1940s: The Seven Great Singing Stars era
In 1931, the first sound film was made in China in a cooperation between the Mingxing Film Company and Pathé. The film industry took advantage of the sound era and engaged singers for acting and soundtrack roles, and Li Jinhui's Bright Moonlight Song and Dance Troup became the first modern musical division to be integrated into the Chinese film industry when it joined Lianhua Film Company in 1931. Amongst the best-known of the singer-actress to emerge in the 1930s were Zhou Xuan, Gong Qiuxia, and Bai Hong. Although later singing stars need not also have an acting career, the close relationship between the recording and film industries continued for many decades. Later Yao Lee, Bai Guang, Li Xianglan, Wu Yingyin also became popular, and collectively these seven stars became known as the "Seven Great Singing Stars" of the period. Other notable singers include Li Lihua (李麗華) and Chang Loo (張露). In 1940 Yao Lee recorded "Rose, Rose, I Love You" which later became the first Chinese pop song to be covered by Western singers that was a hit.
A 1940s shidaiqu style mandopop song by Li Xianglan, illustrating the use of Western dance rhythm typical of many songs in this period.
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The "Seven Great Singing Stars" in the Republic of China period secured the place of the shidaiqu genre in East Asian society. Some of the singers' styles were unlike any Chinese-language music that had come before it. Zhou Xuan is generally considered the most remarkable Chinese pop star of the era for her highly successful singing and film career. This generation saw the rise in popularity of female singers from mere "song girls" to "stars", and for the next few decades, female singers would dominate the Mandarin popular music industry.
The era was a tumultuous period, with the occupation of Shanghai by the Japanese armies during the Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 and to 1945, followed by continuation of the civil war between the Nationalists and Communists. In response to the turmoil, productions began to shift to Hong Kong, and after the Communist takeover in 1949, many stars moved to Hong Kong which then replaced Shanghai as the center of the entertainment industry in the 1950s.
1950s-1960s: The Hong Kong era
In 1949, the People's Republic of China was established by the communist party. One of the first actions taken by the government was to denounce popular music as Yellow Music, a form of pornography. In the mainland, the communist regime began to suppress popular music and promote revolutionary songs. China Record Corporation became the only music recording industry body in China, and for many years Guoyue (National Music) and revolutionary music were about the only kinds of music to be recorded there.
One of the most popular Mandarin songs of the Hong Kong era from the early 1960s, "Unforgettable Love" by Koo Mei.
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In 1952, Pathé (Baak Doi) Records moved their operation from Shanghai to Hong Kong. Stars from Shanghai continued to record songs in Hong Kong, and Shanghai-style music remained popular in Hong Kong until the mid-1960s. Although the music is a continuation of the shidaiqu style of Shanghai, many of the writers did not moved to Hong Kong, and Mandarin pop music in Hong Kong began to move away from its Shanghai roots. Also partly as a consequence of having fewer good song-writers, some songs of this period were straight adaptation of English-language songs, as well as songs from other regions such as the Indonesian song "Bengawan solo". As the style evolved, the sound of popular songs from the Hong Kong era therefore became distinct from Shanghai's. Among the recording artists of note to emerge in this period were Tsui Ping, Tsin Ting, Grace Chang (葛蘭), Fong Tsin Ying (方靜音) and Liu Yun (劉韻), some of whom were also actress. While some actress continued to sing in their film, some of the best known songs were dubbed by other singers, for example "Unforgettable Love" ("不了情") in the film of the same name with Lin Dai was sung by Koo Mei (顧媚) .
Shanghai-style Mandarin pop songs however began to decline in popularity around the mid-1960s as Western pop music became popular among the young, and many Hong Kong performers copied Western songs and sang in English. This in turn gave way to pop songs recorded in Cantonese as Cantopop became the dominant genre of music from Hong Kong in the 1970s.
After the Communist victory in China, the Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan and established the Republic of China with its capital city in Taipei. There were local stars in Taiwan but its recording industry was not initially strong. Taiwanese youth were drawn to popular styles from abroad; as Taiwan was ruled by Japan from 1895 to 1945, Taiwanese pop songs in the Hokkien dialect, the actual mother tongue of most of the island's residents, were particularly strongly influenced by the Japanese Enka music. While songs in Mandarin were initially more influenced by the Shanghai-era songs, many popular Mandarin songs from Taiwan of the 1960s were adaptations of Japanese songs, for example "Hard to Forget the Thought" ("意難忘", originally "Tokyo Serenade" "東京夜曲") and "Hate you to the Bone" ("恨你入骨", from "骨まで愛して"). Popular songs were necessarily sung in Mandarin as Taiwan's new rulers, which imposed martial law in Taiwan in 1949, mandated its use as well as forbidding the use of Japanese and restricting the use of Taiwanese Hokkien. The Mandarin pop music developed in Taiwan that would become modern Mandopop is a blend of traditional Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, as well as Western musical styles. Zi Wei (紫薇) was the earliest of the Taiwan-based stars who achieved success outside of Taiwan in the late 1950s with the song "Green Island Serenade" ("綠島小夜曲"), followed by other singers such as Mei Dai (美黛) and Yao Surong (姚蘇蓉) in the 1960s. The 1960s however was a highly politically tense era, many songs such as "Not Going Home Today" ("今天不回家") by Yao Surong were banned in Taiwan.
In the 1960s, regional centres of Chinese pop music also started to emerge in overseas Chinese communities in Malaysia and Singapore, and singers from the region such as Poon Sow Keng (潘秀瓊) also achieved wider success.
1970s–1980s: Rise of Taiwanese Mandopop
In the 1970s, Taipei began to take center stage as Cantopop took hold in Hong Kong. In 1966, Taiwan music industry was generating US$4.7 million annually, and this had grown exponentially through the 1970s and 1980s, and by 1996, it peaked at just under US$500 million before declining. The success of the Taiwanese film industry also helped with the popularity of its singers. Taiwanese stars such as Tsai Chin, Fei Yu-ching, and Fong Fei Fei became increasingly popular, with Teresa Teng the best known. However, the importance of Hong Kong as a center meant that some of these Taiwanese stars such as Teresa Teng were still Hong Kong-based.
A short clip of one of the best known songs of the 1970s "The Moon Represents My Heart" by Teresa Teng.
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Teresa Teng made Mandopop a true mainstay by crossing over to mainland China after Deng Xiaoping came to power and instituted the open door policy in 1978 that allowed cultural products from Hong Kong and Taiwan to enter China. Teng's song became popular there despite an early ban on her songs by the PRC government for being "Bourgeois Music". Her "soft, sweet, often whispery and restrained" singing style in romantic songs such as "The Moon Represents My Heart" (月亮代表我的心) made a strong impact in mainland China where revolutionary songs were previously prevalent. A common expression then was "By day, Deng Xiaoping rules China. But by night, Deng Lijun (Teresa Teng) rules". The ban on Teng was lifted in 1986 and songs from Hong Kong and Taiwan, called gangtai music, became more popular within mainland China.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a different generation of Taiwanese singers and/or songwriters such as Chyi Yu, Hou Dejian, and Lo Ta-yu emerged, some of whom were influenced by folk rock and whose music may be termed "campus folk music". One of the most successful songs of the era was Lo Ta-yu's 1985 song "Tomorrow Will Be Better" (明天會更好), which was inspired by the American song "We Are the World" and originally performed by 60 singers. It quickly became a hit throughout Asia and established itself as a standard. Another song soon followed in 1986 in mainland China called "Let the World be filled with Love" (讓世界充滿愛). Hou Dejian's song "Descendants of the Dragon" (龍的傳人) also became an anthem for the period. Unlike previous era dominated by female singers, male singers are now popular, and other popular male singers included Liu Wen Zheng and Dave Wong.
In South East Asia, popular local stars from the late 60s to the 80s included Sakura Teng (樱花), Zhang Xiaoying (張小英) and Lena Lim (林竹君) from Singapore, and Wong Shiau Chuen (黃曉君) and Lee Yee (李逸) from Malaysia. Some such as Lena Lim achieved some success outside the region, and the local labels also signed singers from outside the region such as Long Piao-Piao (龍飄飄) from Taiwan. The recording industry in Singapore in particular thrived. In 1979, Singapore launched the Speak Mandarin Campaign to promote the use of Mandarin over the range of Chinese dialects spoken by various segments of the ethnic-Chinese population. Mandarin songs, already a strong presence on radio stations and on television, further eroded the popularity of Hokkien and Cantonese songs in the media. In the 1980s, a genre of Mandarin ballads called xinyao developed in Singapore by singers/songwriters such as Liang Wern Fook.
In mainland China, the music industry was freed from state restriction in 1978, and regional recording companies were established in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing in the 1980s with local singers. The 1980s saw the beginning of rock music in China, with the emergence of singer-songwriters such as Cui Jian, followed by others such as He Yong and bands such as Tang Dynasty which became popular in the 1990s.
A number of singers originally from mainland China such as Faye Wong and Na Ying began to record in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Faye Wong, referred to in the media as the Diva, first recorded in Cantonese in Hong Kong, later recorded in Mandarin. She became the first Chinese singer to perform in Budokan, Japan.
During this period, singers from Hong Kong such as the "Four Heavenly Kings" - Aaron Kwok, Leon Lai, Andy Lau and Jacky Cheung - also began to dominate Mandopop. One of the best-selling Mandarin albums was the 1993 album The Goodbye Kiss by Jacky Cheung which sold over 1 million in Taiwan and 4 million in total Asia-wide. Nonetheless, Taiwan has their own popular singers such as Stella Chang, Sky Wu, Wakin Chau (formerly Emil Chau) and Jeff Chang. Independent labels such as Rock Records began to establish themselves in this period as some of the most influential labels. Towards the end of the 90s, other singers such as Leehom Wang and David Tao became popular, and some also began to perform in the R&B and/or hip-hop genres.
In the period from the mid-1990s to early 2000s, Shanghai and Beijing became centers of the music industry in mainland China, with Shanghai focusing on music record publishing and distribution, while Beijing focused on music recording.
2000s: Growth in Mainland China
The 2000s began with an explosion of pop idols, many of whom are from Taiwan. Mainland China also saw a rapid increase in the number of Mandopop singers, bands, and idol groups as pop music becomes increasingly mainstream by mid-2000s. The growing Mainland film industry and Chinese television drama also increased demand for Mandopop. Since the 2000s, the emergence of indie rock in mainland China and Taiwan had exploded into a flourishing indie music scene in mainland China and Taiwan, adding various new diversities into Mandopop. Entry of popular Taiwan-based bands such as Mayday and Sodagreen while in mainland Chinese-based bands such as SuperVC and Milk@Coffee had brought a new phase of rock fusion into Mandopop.
The music industry in Taiwan however began to suffer from music piracy in the digital age, and its revenue plummeted to $US95 million in 2005. The primary revenue sources in Taiwan music industry shifted to advertising, concerts, KTV (karaoke) and movie. The dramatic decline of CD sales shifted the market in favour of mainland China. While piracy was also severe in mainland China, the percentage of its digital sales is higher compared to most countries. 2005 was known as 'The First Year of Digital Music' in China as its digital music sales of $US57 million overtook CDs in 2005, and it also overtook Taiwan in term of the retail value of its music sales.
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However, while mainland China became increasingly important in generating revenue, the pop music industry itself in mainland China was still relatively small in the decade of 2000s compared to Taiwan and Hong Kong as popstars from Taiwan and other overseas Chinese communities were still popular in mainland China. Mandopop singers such as Jay Chou was popular performing in the rhythm and blues and rap music genre, and other successful singers include Stefanie Sun, and Jolin Tsai. Many Cantopop singers also turned towards Mandopop industry due to disputes among entertainment and record companies in Hong Kong and to increase their fan base.
In recent years, the burgeoning number of contests have brought an idol concept (偶像, ǒuxiàng) to the Mandopop industry. Nationwide singing competitions in mainland China, such as the Super Girl, Super Boy, The Voice of China, Chinese Idol, and The X Factor: Zhongguo Zui Qiang Yin, have greatly boosted Mandopop's influence many contestants emerge as successful singers such as Chris Lee (Li Yuchun), Jason Zhang Jie, Jane Zhang Liangying, Chen Chusheng, Momo Wu Mochou, Laure Shang Wenjie, etc. The same phenomenon also occurred in Taiwan, from the show One Million Star and Super Idol, new talented singers has entered the Mandopop market, including Aska Yang, Yoga Lin, Lala Hsu and so on. In Taiwan, the term "quality idol" (優質偶像, yōuzhì ǒuxiàng) has entered the popular lexicon, referring to Mandopop singers who are good-looking, talented and highly educated, among them Wang Leehom and William Wei.
Recent years also saw the rise in crossover appeal of Taiwanese bubblegum pop boybands and girlbands to the mainland Chinese scene, such as commercially successful acts like S.H.E and Fahrenheit. Several new boybands and girlbands also have emerged in mainland China during like Top Combine, UP Girls, RTA, iMe, S.P.Y and HIT-5.
Instruments and setups
Shidaiqu originated as a fusion of Chinese traditional music and European popular music, and therefore instruments from both genres were used from the very beginning of Mandopop. Songs performed in the traditional style employed traditional Chinese instruments like the erhu, pipa, and sanxian, such as in the recording of "The Wandering Songstress" (天涯歌女) by Zhou Xuan, whereas more Western orchestral instruments such as trumpets, violins, and piano were used in songs like "Shanghai Nights" (夜上海), also by Zhou Xuan. Big band and jazz instruments and orchestrations from the swing era were common in the early years. Chinese and Western instruments were also combined in some recordings.
In the 1960s, the electric guitar began to be used. Starting in the 1970s, electronic organs/synthesizers were heavily featured, which characterized the Mandopop music of the era. Today's Mandopop arrangements are generally westernized, covering many musical styles, including rhythm and blues, ballads, and Pop. A few Chinese pop musicians—most notably Jay Chou, Lin Jun Jie, David Tao, and Leehom Wang—have experimented with fusing traditional Chinese instruments with Western styles (such as hip hop beats) all over again, influencing many Asian singers worldwide.
Mandopop record labels includes independent labels such as JVR Music, Linfair Records, B'In Music and subsidiaries of major labels such as Sony Music Taiwan, Universal Music Taiwan, Warner Music Taiwan. In the past few years, mainland labels such as EE-Media, Huayi Brothers, Taihe Rye Music, Show City Times, Idol Entertainment, and Tian Hao Entertainment have also emerged.
- Shanghai: Pathé Records, Great Wall, New Moon, Greater China
- Hong Kong: Pathé Records/EMI, Phillips, Diamond Records
Music distribution outside Asia
Mandopop titles are also available outside of Asia. Chinese communities established in North America have made Mandopop music accessible through local businesses. In the United States, Canada and Australia they are easily found in many major urban areas, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Seattle, Houston, Dallas, Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne.
- Beijing Popular Music Awards (Mainland China)
- CCTV-MTV Music Awards (Mainland China)
- Chinese Music Awards (Mainland China)
- Four Stations Joint Music Awards (Hong Kong)
- Golden Melody Awards (Taiwan)
- HITO Radio Music Awards (Taiwan)
- Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards (Hong Kong)
- M Music Awards (Mainland China)
- Metro Radio Mandarin Music Awards (Hong Kong)
- RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards (Hong Kong)
- Singapore Hit Awards (Singapore)
- Top Chinese Music Awards (Mainland China)
- Ultimate Song Chart Awards (Hong Kong)
Mandopop radio stations
|Station||Location||Frequencies and Platform|
|Kiss Radio Taiwan||Kaohsiung, Taiwan||99.9 FM, 99.7 FM, 97.1 FM, 98.3 FM and Internet live streaming|
|Hit Fm||Taipei, Taiwan||90.1 FM, 91.5 FM, 101.7 FM and Internet live streaming|
|Beijing Radio Stations||Beijing, China||97.4 FM and Internet live streaming|
|Shenzhen Radio Station||Shenzhen, China||97.1 FM and Internet live streaming|
|Shanghai Media Group||Shanghai, China||101.7 FM and Internet live streaming|
|KAZN||Los Angeles, USA||Sometimes|
|KSFN||San Francisco, USA||1510 AM|
|KSJO||San Francisco, USA||92.3 FM|
|KSQQ||San Francisco, USA||96.1 FM|
|Yes 93.3||Singapore||93.3 FM and Internet live streaming|
|883 JIA FM||Singapore||88.3 FM and Internet live streaming|
|MY FM||Malaysia||Frequencies vary according to location|
|Radio Cakrawala||Jakarta, Indonesia||98.3 FM|
|MandarinRadio.com||Internet live streaming (also available on iTunes Radio)|
- Music of China
- Music of Taiwan
- Chinese R&B
- French Mandopop
- Taiwanese pop
- List of best-selling albums in Taiwan
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