pop music in Hong Kong


pop music in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s indigenous popular music industry became a commercial force in the early 1970s, when the city became affluent and urban youths (post-1949 baby-boomers) developed a sense of local pride.
Popular music from Taiwan (in Mandarin) and Western-imported pop and rock dominated Hong Kong’s radio programming in the 1960s. However, the 1970s generation, rather than treating Hong Kong as a transitory place, claimed it as their home. The city’s entertainment industry developed at the same time, not only in popular television ratings (especially serial dramas), but also in the popular film and music markets in Asia and overseas Chinese communities.
While English-language pop had been imported for many decades (the Beatles visited Hong Kong on their 1964 world tour), indigenous pop began only in the early 1970s with local star Sam Hui. Hui had originally been a singer for Lotus, a post-Beatles local band singing in English. When Hui and his brother Michael produced and starred in their own television shows, their original songs in Cantonese reached the population at large. Other singers and songwriters followed suit, leading to the first generation of Cantopop stars, among them Alan Tam, Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui. Most Cantopop stars moved easily from one entertainment media to another. As the Hong Kong film industry grew, these stars became ever more valuable as cross-genre celebrities.
The musical styles of 1980s Cantopop, however, closely followed the Japanese scene. A large number of Alan Tam’s and Anita Mui’s hits were covers of Japanese chart-toppers. Most Cantopop songs are romantic ballads; few have strong and vigorous dance beats. In the early 1990s, a new generation of pop singers took the scene by storm, including the heavily marketed Four Heavenly Kings (Andy Lau (b. 1961), Jacky Cheung (b. 1961), Leon Lai (b. 1966, Beijing) and Aaron Kwok (b. 1965)) competing among themselves for fans and awards, and each following the same combination of film, television and singing. Most of their fans were teenage girls, falling in love less with their idols’ singing ability (with the possible exception of Jacky Cheung) than with their image.
By the mid 1990s, Faye Wong captured many new fans, with a more cutting-edge style and delivery, encouraging original composition. Between 1991 and 2001, a few rap groups were also popular, performing lyrics ranging from socially challenging, confrontational hip-hop to sugary ‘bubble-rap’. The first rap duo, Softhard Wizards, began their careers as radio disc-jockeys. In 1999, underground rap group LMF’s first hit was banned on the radio because of obscenities in the lyrics. However, LMF has since signed with a major label, and their lyrics became tame.
When China re-opened its doors to outside influences in the late 1970s, Hong Kong’s popular music took a foothold in the mainland market. Many of Hong Kong’s pop artists travel to China to perform in stadium shows and appear on national television. Their appearances also include popular films, which made them household names in China. The year 1997 was clearly a watershed that marked Hong Kong’s position vis-à-vis China, and popular music has proven to be a lucrative niche in the post-1997 period, influencing the burgeoning music markets of China and Taiwan.
JOANNA C.LEE

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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