Wong Fei


Wong Fei
(a.k.a. Faye Wong)
b. 1969, Beijing
Pop singer
Wong Fei moved to Hong Kong in 1987 to become the city’s—and later, Greater China’s—biggest pop diva of the 1990s. Emerging in the era of the Four Heavenly Kings (see pop music in Hong Kong), her self-adopted name, ‘Fei’, stands for ‘princess’, staging her as the first woman to claim the royal title in Cantopop and thereby, like her male colleagues, inscribing herself into the long feudalist past of Chinese culture.
Wong Fei has generally been considered one of the most innovative stars with respect to both her music and her image. Her music moves from the more melodic love songs to complex arrangements in which her high-pitched voice accompanies the eerie score of a synthesizer. She has worked with the Cockteau Twins as well as with Beijing rock singer Dou Wei, her former husband and father of her daughter. Both her highly publicized status as a single mother and her liaison with the much younger pop star Nicolas Tse attest to her unusual ability to escape the moral judgement common in Hong Kong’s popular press and society at large, probably due to her successful aura of being divine, not of this world, cool and beyond. Like Anita Mui, Wong Fei is a chameleon-like celebrity who moves between music and acting. She received international critical acclaim with her role (and music) in Wong Kar-wai’s Chunking Express. Wong Fei is emblematic for pop stardom in Greater China: both her music and her identity are, like the city, in constant flux. She is singer, actress, mother, celebrity, royalty, sex symbol and diva all at the same time. Her strength lies in her cosmopolitan, supernatural ambiguity.
See also: Zhang Yadong
JEROEN DE KLOET

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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