Blast from the past

Updated: 2011-09-09 07:49

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

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 Blast from the past

Taiwan singer Keung Yuk-hang will hold his concert Me and My Friends in Beijing. [Zong Hong / China Daily]

Beijing's music scene is being increasingly dominated by older, established singers. Chen Nan reports.

Taiwan singer Keung Yuk-hang's romantic ballads were all the rage in the mainland in the early 1980s.

The singer-songwriter's husky voice gave songs such as Looking Back, Joyful Songs and Toast to the Past an appeal that was unparalleled at the time.

The 43-year-old, who has 25 albums under his belt, emerged from a 10-year hibernation to release his 26th album, The Trace of Love, in 2010. His latest album, Me and My Friends, was released on Sept 2, 2011.

A concert, of the same title, to be held on Sept 17 at Beijing Workers' Gymnasium, is just one example of Beijing's music calendar being increasingly dominated by singers from the past.

Keung credits his decades-long career as much to being open to every kind of musical style as to the state of the music industry when he started out in 1980.

"Unlike today's music industry, where new faces disappear as quickly as they pop up, artists used to endure in our time," Keung says.

"Musicians focused their energies on experiencing life and spent a lot of time thinking. This produced good lyrics and touching tunes. Nowadays everything goes fast, like fast food."

September alone will see four popular concerts by established singers.

Blast from the past

"Every concert by these singers is like a huge karaoke bar, with fans singing along with them," Chen Yingzi, CEO of Beijing Jishen Culture Company, which has held concerts headlining evergreen singers since 2006.

"The fans know the songs as well as the stories behind them, which connects them to the singers in a special way. In terms of the market, the singers themselves are a guarantee."

Taiwan singer Meng Tingwei, who also returned to the spotlight with a new album, Red Flower, will hold her Beijing concert, called The Age of Innocence, on Sept 10.

The folk singer, best known for her sweet, soothing voice, and love ballads, struck a chord with many fans in the early 1990s.

The 41-year-old abruptly withdrew from the limelight at the height of her career in in 2000. She returned in 2007, after marriage and a baby.

Her mini-concerts held in early May in Chengdu and in June in Beijing, were both sold out.

Na Ying, the mainland's queen of pop, who rose to fame in the 1980s and has witnessed the many changes to the mainland's pop scene, will release her new album So What on Sept 23. This will follow a concert in Beijing, which will introduce her new songs, along with her classic hits.

"I always knew that even though I stopped singing for a while, you would still be there," she told her fans at a press conference in Beijing.

Despite her nine-year disappearance from the stage, fans still call the 44-year-old the best female singer on the mainland and the nearly-sold-out concert, half a month before it starts, is proof of her fans' steadfast support.

Na says back in the 1980s and early 1990s, seen as the golden age of mainland pop music, both the songwriters and the singers were energetic and passionate about producing good music. However, today's young singers put more effort into their costumes and enhance their voices with technology.

"It's not that the audiences are nostalgic but rather, there are few good songs and great voices nowadays," Na says.

Grasshopper, one of the most successful Canto-pop groups of Hong Kong, which began as a boy band, will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a concert in Beijing on Sept 17 at Beijing Exhibition Hall Theater.

The band has also released a book on the mainland, Taiwan and other places in Asia, telling of their childhood and teen years, and how they became Grasshopper.

Bringing together siblings Calvin Choy and Remus Choy, and neighbor Edmond So, Grasshopper started out as back-up singers for the late diva Anita Mui.

Though they haven't released any full-length albums since 2005, they still pulled in the crowds with their old songs at a Hong Kong concert this year.

"The music scene has changed. Today, consumers pick the music they want to listen to, not the music you introduce to them. There are many ways to listen to songs and we think that live music is what people want right now," says Calvin Choy.

(China Daily 09/09/2011 page20)


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