Xinyao (Chinese: 新谣; pinyin: Xīnyáo) is a Chinese noun comprising two words: Xīn (新) which is an abbreviation for Singapore, and yáo (谣) for song. The extended form is Xīnjiāpō gēyáo (新加坡歌谣), which simply means "Singapore songs". It is a genre of songs that is unique to Singapore, where the songs are composed and sung by Singaporeans and are often about life within the country. Xinyao can be clearly identified by its distinctive style of clean acoustics, with a group of people singing and harmonizing together, usually accompanied solely by the guitar. As the movement grew and became semi-commercialized in the early 90s, more sophisticated accompaniments with drums, castanets etc. were adopted.
In the Chinese music scene, the local xinyao movement started in mid-1980s and was the source of a number of success stories in today's regional Chinese pop music industry. This genre also had its roots in the 1990s within local schools. Early pioneers of this style of music include Liang Wern Fook, who has since become a prolific local songwriter, Billy Koh who discovered & groomed many successful Singapore artistes into the Asia Chinese-Pop music scene (including Kit Chan, A-Do and JJ Lin), Li Wei-Song, Li Si-Song, Eric Moo.
Songs such as "A Step at a Time" (一步一步来) written and sung by xinyao artists were popular with those born in the mid-1960s to 1970s. In 1983, the song "Encounter" (邂逅), a duet by Eric Moo and Huang Hui-zhen, became the first xinyao song to make it to the Mandarin pop song ranking chart "Pick of Pops" (新加坡龙虎榜) on Singapore's radio station.
The xinyao movement was largely home-grown and enriched the local arts scene in post-war Singapore. It was one of the more notable youth music subcultures in Singapore which outgrew its origins and gained public acceptance as well as support.
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