Older Chinese Singers Criticize the New Wave of “Idol” Singers in China


Ding Wei at the Wind and Cloud Newcomers Awards: "You can not just rely on a pretty face"

So part of the reason I chose to post on the Wind and Cloud Newcomers Awards and spend the time to stick a bunch of MVs there, and tell you exactly which ones have composed their own songs is because you can form your own opinions on their singing ability and their compositional skills while you read to this follow up post to it.

If you watched the Awards you may not have noticed the people presenting the awards. They were older and not as good looking as the massive amount of eye-candy reaping the awards. But these people were the foundation of Chinese music, putting their heart and souls into writing beautiful music, and they must have felt uneasy seeing one by one these newcomers with pretty faces and still questionable talent going up to get awards that meant the face of Chinese music was changing from skills-based to more looks/performance-based.

Han Hong: “I only like Chen Chusheng “

I feel like most people have seen this video, Alan and Han Hong singing together, at least most people who know who they are, but it’s still a good contrast between the old generation and the new. Han Hong is probably one of the most famous Chinese singers ever, a female equivalent to Liu Huan (she sang at the Paralympics opening and Liu Huan at the Olympics). If you watch the video, listen to her ethereal voice and watch her expressiveness and her passion for the song (which she composed) you can see why.

Alan and Han Hong – Sky Road

Note the enthusiasm with which one of the male students holds up his “Han Hong” sign @ 1:58, the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for fangirls and their idols.

Alan at the time was still a nobody, good of course but mostly chosen out of all her colleagues at the People’s Liberation Army academy (PLA) to do the duet because she was Tibetan like Han Hong. Han Hong not only has a beautiful voice but writes her own songs, like the beautiful Sky Road.

Yet Alan, with her natural singing voice and her quality PLA training probably puts half the new singers to shame, and some of them should probably just quit the music business altogether after hearing her. So if Han Hong feels a bit disgusted by the current trend of idols in singers, it’s easy to see why. Han Hong recently said, of the new singers with their “vulgar” songs, “I only like Chen Chusheng the winner of the 2007 Superboys”, a statement that spotlights the cracks in the current Chinese music industry.

Ding Wei : “Only those with strength in their skill can be popular forever, like Leehom, who can write his songs as well as sing them”

She is not the only one annoyed at the current trends in the Chinese music scene. As I have said before, Cui Jian, the father of Chinese rock, spoke out about this “Cow Dung into Gold” business way.

Ding Wei, a famous Chinese singer/composer who presented an award at the Wind and Chart awards said in her opinion not many of the newcomers were actually that talented in singing. “You can not just rely on a pretty face, because there is a time when everyone will grow old. Only those with strength in their skill can be popular forever, like Leehom, who can write his songs as well as sing them. The current competitions have let a lot of young people acheive their dreams, resulting in a surplus of singers.”

BOBO...pretty faces, good singing, but not as good as the older generation

BOBO...pretty faces and good singing, but not as good as the older generation

BOBO: “Right now we are young and still have time to learn”

BoBo responded to Ding Wei’s comments:

“We humbly accept the teachings of our predecessors, and we agree with their opinions. Only based on skill can singers grow.” In response to Ding Wei’s words that “false” artists will not make much money, “Before we used to go to school, and now as singers can make money by ourselves. This is a good feeling. We can support ourselves and our family”

They also acknowledged their reverence for another Chinese duo in attendance Yu Quan, who like I said before, recently celebrated their tenth anniversary as a group. They said “They write their own songs which we lack. We hope in the future to write our own songs, but right now we are young and still have time to learn”. (Jing Boran is 19 and Fu Xinbo is 21).

And while I like BOBO and their friendshp, I really can’t say that they are musical artists the way Ding Wei or Han Hong or Yu Quan are. Chinese music has never been about packaging based on looks or how personalities will appeal to a younger population, but it is changing quite rapidly to something close to that.

My Final Thoughts on the newcomers

So far, I feel like most of the younger Chinese artists have been in general rather passionate about music, rather than looking at it just as a medium to get famous. Most of them have good, great voices. Most of them studied music in university before achieving fame, and most of them have tried composing music in a very short amount of time.

However I can’t help but agree with the older artists, that they lack the amount of talent that artists before have had. And the future may present even less worthy young artists who are above average singers at best, will not even try to write their own songs unless forced to by their company to gain “credibility”, and lack any passion for the music. Any opinions on this?


27 thoughts on “Older Chinese Singers Criticize the New Wave of “Idol” Singers in China

  1. Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Cheers

  2. lol sometimes reading comments (long ones too =]) are pretty amusing. I’ve always been a comment eavesdropper!

    And really, I agree with a lot of you about the style of music in China at this moment, not saying in the future, is consisted mostly of higher quality musicians, and I say musicians because they are definitely not idols. At this point, even the younger generation I agree are good looking but are actually pretty promising in terms of passion and music and some have pretty good voices, but I share the same feeling about the future and I’m not sure I’m going to like it much if they’re only going to churn out singers that can’t even sing live. And then I feel so sooo hypocritical because I’m an overseas chinese girl (19) that is obsessed with korean boybands (such eyecandies!!) and sadly wouldn’t have ever ever ever come across real singers like Han Hong (Chen Chu Sheng yes, but Han Hong no and there’s a good reason too) if I weren’t a die-hard Chinese culture person who watches no American TV watsoever (I do watch Kdrama and they’re pretty good) but my point is, it’s a tough world out there if you don’t have a pretty face and entertainment value (not musical value here) to grab the attention of the spending majority (Chinese teenage fangirls pouring all their money into DBSK and SJ-M is not good in terms of national pride because it just means that if the fangirls can’t get what they want from China, they’ll get it elsewhere hence the money goes elsewhere!!) I guess it’s inevitable that the Chinese music industry will try to churn out artists and bands to match if they don’t want to stand there and watch their money fly away. Yes, I’m purposely leaving out that fangirls also chase after TW and HK singers as well because I still consider them Chinese family, the money doesn’t fly that far in that case.

    Overall, it’s a tough spot to be in =]
    Good luck to Chen Chu Sheng (sad he wasn’t famous sooner, he’s 29 already, does that even count as an idol?) and Han Hong. They really went a long way to become acknowledged for they’re profession. Hopefully there can be a way to solve this coming problem in a way that won’t hurt them.

    gosh, what’s up with me and my ridiculously long comments. Sorry, I know I don’t have the most amazing grammar also! I’m sure there’s at least one super-duper long run-on somewhere up there!

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