Here’s to You Chris Lee


Amidst the great albums that came out recently from people like David Tao, whom we’ve  looked up to for their song-writing talent, and whose albums we look forward to for very reason, one album lifted itself from up from our expectations and stunned us over our lack of anticipation for it. Chris Lee, without much press or fanfare, came out with a CD, a good one, containing 8 self-composed songs, and 9 song with  lyrics she herself wrote.

No one had preparation for such a revelation that Li Yuchun could compose. No one knew she had even tried, and the sudden materialization of  an album almost all her own surprised us, and then slowly overtook us our quiet shock with such astonished joy where we wanted to run around and congratulate her and her fans for such a wholly unexpected burst of talent from this much maligned woman. However, looking back at our excitement over this, we had to wonder, why are we so happy for her? I just admitted it – we never her fans, nor are we currently her fans. So why the crazy happiness?

Throughout the changes that have occurred over the years in China’s music industry, and China’s entertainment scene, there exists one constant, and that constant is the reigning queen of mainland Cpop no matter whose talk show Jane Zhang goes on. She is Chris Lee, or Li Yuchun, a bizarre inexplicable pop culture figure to anyone who didn’t fall into her “fensi” category. This fact has perplexed us here too at Cfensi, and frustrated us from the beginning. Not only does Li Yuchun not have the Miss Universe looks that one hopes to represent a country, but she also sadly lacked in the amount of singing talent that would explain away those looks. All she had was her unbelievable solid presence, an assurance that most people could only covet from afar, an assurance that distanced her from the majority.

But slowly she gained our respect if not our love. The bashing, the criticism that she received over the years only fueled the image of underdog that won her so many hearts in 2005.  Now she emerged with an album of nearly all self-compositions….a very good album. We all got excited over it but why? Were we ever a fan of this woman? We hated her at first – someone who tarnished all the brilliant singers that emerged from Hunan TV’s singing competitions despite the fact that she was the only one that had anything less than impressive vocals. Even now we only had begrudging admiration for her attitude toward herself, her music, and her unfaltering nonchalance towards those bashing her, because really, they didn’t matter.


So why were we so happy? Was it finally a vindication, a means for us to say “Hey, here’s Chris Lee. She’s our Supergirl representative. She’s  talented. Her love of music can finally be seen in this, in her composition.” It probably was. But what’s the point? She had gotten this far without that sort of tangible merit, and her fans have been one of the few that could lavish praise upon their idol without ever feeling the need to tear down others. She didn’t have the voice nor the looks back then, just a love of music shrouded on the outside by a quiet, friendly, and always firm composure. This was what gained her fans and inspired. She gave people a success story that was based on neither the superficial appearance nor the  talent that some are lucky to be born with. It was based on just her…her will to do what she loved.

So here’s to you Chris Lee, the underdog that no one understood and may never understand. No matter how you surprise us with merit, you may forever be whom most still sees you as, a pop culture phenom that captivated many. The majority weren’t quite so captivated, nor inspired including us. Ultimately however, I think that’s our loss.

16 thoughts on “Here’s to You Chris Lee

  1. I like her voice and her image… her talents may still be growing, but she’s anything but a bore, thus perfect for the ever-changing, ever-controversial music and entertainment industry.

    I daresay she’ll be here for a long time…

  2. There are other places where girls can dress like that in confidence too. :)

    But well, my opinion still stands on her. I don’t find her appealing, whether by dress or by singing. Sure she can compose, but so can others? Idk.

    And oh, I dare say, her stylist is a much better stylist than the one styling Amber of f(x) atm, lol.

  3. @jtlangel

    Maybe she dresses like a “lesbo” because she wants to.

    I’m rather proud that China is a place where a girl can dress that with confidence. Where people can be different, and inspire.

    The statements circulating about tomboys makes me a bit skeptical that the society outside China is really as liberal as it says it is.

  4. well written, great job!
    I was never a fan of Chris because of the way she looked, but truthfully, I don’t speak Chinese so when I listen to Chinese music I listen to the voice not the lyrics because I won’t understand it. Chris had never impressed me much with her singing skills but after reading this article I think it is worthwhile so listen to her album. Thanks!

  5. why does she dress like a dyke? She can’t pull off that tomboy look without looking lesbo. *shakes head*. Someone needs to get a new stylist for her.

  6. I don’t really know how to reply.

    I had an “intention” when I first started writing this, to justify her existence in Cpop, and the merit of Cpop in general. Then all purpose disintegrated as this evolved by itself into a rather personal self-reflection and my audience narrowed considerably. Most people, if I am lucky, will take out of this that she did write many of her own songs, nothing more and that’s fine.

    The result of my own introspection was disappointment that I lacked that characteristic of being able to be inspired by her. I am cynical too, very cynical, and rather judgmental. I long to discard that aspect of myself; seeing the good in everyone is far harder than seeing their faults.

  7. Hey cfensi,
    i have a question but it has NOTHING to do with li yu chun or china entertainment..
    Do you where I can d/l ” 五笔收入法’86 ” for free?

  8. @ idarklight – I suppose that’s true… I’m not much of a fan, either; I just like the substance of some of her songs and what she stands for, so I have no idea what they caught onto. Her story is inspirational not as much to her fans, but to onlookers – a seemingly average person making it big and fulfilling her dreams.

    It’s that *something* that really makes me feel that bittersweetness, along with the determination – that *something* that isn’t material and isn’t something visible. Is it luck? Is it personality? Or is it that determination itself? Or something entirely different? Regardless, it’s something I don’t *see* myself… and because it’s not readily apparent, I can’t help but be a bit put out by it.

    What I can identify is a sense of direction and determination – and since that’s as close as I can get, and knowing she couldn’t have made it without… When it comes down to it, her story makes me feel like the rest of us lack something more basic than most artists’ talents.

    That said, don’t think I’m not happy for it, LOL.

    And yes, they are; I don’t think it’s just a rumor, either, because Zhou Mi already confirmed that recording is done and that they’re headed back to China…

  9. ooooh i dont usually listen to her songs, but I really like them =) Theyre catchy and good

    Btw…sjm is rumored to have a comeback on sept 10 in shanghai -_-

  10. @nepheliad

    but her story isn’t inspirational to her fans, is it? Other than here, I don’t think she’s ever been portrayed as inspiration.

    She is the inspiration, the perfection.Li Yuchun…I can’t say what she is to her fans. They really do see something in her that we don’t.

    I think both cfensi and I have tried very hard to figure out what it is about her that gives her fans. We can’t say it is her voice or musical talent, and it is only personality that we can find in her.

    To be honest, none of us knows what makes her such a phenomenon. It’s still a mystery. It’s something that we don’t see that her fans do…like a secret that we’re not a part of.

    Li Yuchun, admittedly, still annoys me for what she did to the other Super Girls. But it is hard to find a more successful artist or a more amazing fangroup than her and her fans.

    Confidence? Determination? Those are only traits we can attribute her fame to. But as non-fans, none of us really sees what really caught the eyes of her fans and what shot her to fame.

  11. Haha… this article had the opposite effect on me than what was intended. I guess I’m too much of a cynical bastard, because when I hear her songs and read the article, I hear and see the gold-gilt hand of luck as much as I hear the fanfare of triumphant determination… I admire her determination as much as anyone, but at the same time, I can’t help thinking that there are people who are more talented and who have the determination that are being smothered in her shadow because they missed an opportunity here or there, or just from chance not favoring them. It also dredges up a feeling that kinda reads “I wish I had her devotion”; I dunno about others, but I’ve never felt myself pulled to anything like that to begin with, and that seems a whim of chance, too. I admire it to pieces – but it also makes me yearn for a passion and direction like hers. Taking the sugar-coating off, it’s a kind of jealousy, because with more conventionally talented or clever artists like Jane, I can look to them and think, wow, she has a talent I could never have, but with Yuchun, it just points flaws that hold most of us (I think, anyway) back.

    I guess to me, her story is inspirational in the wistfulness-tinged way that fairy tales are, more so than most other celebrities. It makes watching her progression and listening to her songs a bittersweet thing for me – a feeling towards her that’s always been wriggling in the back of my mind, but never pinpointed and identified until I read this article. And now, acknowledging that… I feel like I can’t help but like her a bit less for unfortunately and admittedly petty reasons, though I’m still something of a fan of hers.

    So as not to end this on such a petty down note, I’ve begun to think that that kind of passion and direction is a gift in and of itself, as much as any singing or acting or any such ability, and perhaps the most enviable one of all. It’s a talent Li Yuchun has in spades, and without it, all the luck in the world couldn’t have gotten her this far.

  12. I think I starting tearing up when I wrote this. I never found her beautiful, nor her voice. But what she represents, and the fact that this is what inspired so many was very beautiful to me.

    When I realized, that this was in fact, what inspired so many in China when they watched Soldier Sortie, it was undefinable. That revelation made me so proud of everyone there.

    Because both she and Wang Baoqiang show that anyone can climb to the top. Anyone. Is it any wonder that her fans are both the old and the young? Her success is not limited to any sort of god-given quality. Her talent was average, and her face unconventional. And somehow, her determination to do what she loved, applying to Sichuan Conservatory of Music, honing whatever amount of singing ability she did have, and seizing the opportunities that came her way. Well…that’s not beyond anyone’s capability. Had I any desire to sing, I could have done the same. All I needed was her spirit, a spirit that most don’t bother to develop even though it truly is there for everyone to acheive.

    And while those waste time to criticize her, she continues to accomplish and do what she can.

    I am sad that we weren’t a part of those who esteemed her at first, but I think now, we did in fact start realizing why she won, and why she has the best, least critical, most giving fans. And that’s a step. I really hope I can one day be as inspired by her as them and cast off the cynical nature that prevents all of those who can’t find even tolerance for her.

    It’s so strange how dejected I was China once chose her as their singer, and how uplifted that makes me feel now. I do hope China keeps up with success stories like the ones Chris Lee and Soldier Sortie. The ones that can inspire everyone do good, and do it because they are capable.

  13. I think I was really inspired by Chris Lee and you essay.

    On the first two days of this news…my reaction was ecstasy. I was so glad that there’s finally a solid result to show off for her, that I would be able to defend her with a fact rather than an opinion.

    Since meeting eeMedia, I have thought a lot about what makes people the way they are, and how success is determined. I’ve realized how important determination is. Before, and even often now, when I look at people, I often judge on talent. And I often prefer the talented, the ingenius over the hardworking. But He Jie, Jane, Li Yuchun, they changed my mind. He Jie had more natural performance than any of them, but she lost sight of what she wanted and didn’t know how to get there. Jane and Li Yuchun were different. What is different is that Jane is an opportunist and Li Yuchun a determinist. Jane reminds me a bit of Obama – they use their natural talents to their advantage in order to succeed. Li Yuchun didn’t have that talent. She had a goal. And her goal, her dream, was so important to her that she succeeded.

    Here’s to Li Yuchun, and to the 2005 Super Girls.

    recommendations in her album:
    1. Huo gai
    2. Frequent Flyer
    3. Xia Ge Lu Kou Jian
    4. Yi Dian Yi Dian
    5. live

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