Mui, Anita


Mui, Anita
(neé Mui, Yimfong)
b. 1963, Hong Kong; d. 2004
Pop singer
Whereas Deng Lijun can be considered the queen of Mandapop, her Hong Kong counterpart Anita Mui might well be considered the—younger—queen of Cantopop. Unlike Deng, who was immortalized by her girlish sweetness, Anita shot to fame by being tough, hardworking and independent. She always made it clear that she started earning money by performing in parks, streets and fairgrounds with her mother from when she was five. Anita Mui became a public icon in Hong Kong, setting an example of what an under-educated girl can become in the prospering 1980s. Her career reached new heights in 1985 with the album Bad Girl (Huai nühai), a title emblematic of the performing identity of Anita Mui: daring, independent and, above all, refusing to conform.
Her controversial lifestyle that frequently made the headlines in the tabloids of Hong Kong (alleging, for example, her involvement in Triads), the changes in image and music style as well as her glamorous live performances all account for the vast creative spectrum of Anita Mui. Her occasional provocations inspired audiences and shocked governments. The song ‘Bad Girl’ was forbidden on the mainland, and a tour in 1995 was cut short after she insisted on performing it live. Anita Mui, frequently referred to as the ‘Madonna of Asia’, was also active in movies, like most Hong Kong pop stars, for which she received critical acclaim (see her performance as the ghost in Rouge (1987) and most recently in July Rhapsody (2002) with Jackie Cheung). The pop music of Hong Kong is often considered inauthentic, overtly commercial and fake. Anita Mui forces us to give a more subtle reading that gives due credit to both the agency of the artists, given her constant reinvention of the self, as well as the political potential of pop. Unfortunately, she succumbed to cancer in 2004 at the age of forty.
Witzleben, Larry (1999). ‘Cantopop and Mandopop in Pre-Postcolonial Hong Kong: Identity Negotiations in the Performances of Anita Mui YimFong’. Popular Music 18.2 (Fall): 241–57.
JEROEN DE KLOET

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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