While it has been over a decade since I got into J-Pop and the idolatry therein (God forgive me, for I have sinned), it has been longer since I was exposed to the musical and cultural cornucopia that lie in (South) Korea and Chinese-speaking locales.
These are my confessions as a fan who has long strayed off the path.
Chinese music and culture is a deeper one. As an American, we see it all the time, the images of Chinese culture plastered all over the media. I saw Mulan in theatres and watched Jackie Chan Adventures like most kids (in addition to hearing about his movies). Even eating the staples of Chinese American cuisine, a more regular ritual than Korean yogurt, it was there. However, there was a small phase in my life where I dabbled in the music of the Chinese speaking sort — by which I mean Mandarin and Cantonese. Gotta distinguish here. I had a few names, which diversified towards the peak in 2004. However, one name stuck out in my diverse listening habits: Faye Wong. The lessening of Chinese music in my musical palette lessened when I no longer heard her voice, her material go further. (This is sad as she has decades of treasures to explore. If I can spend the span between Ai Araba It’s All Right and Osaka Koi no Uta listening to Ikimasshoi! and Morning Coffee, I can certainly go through decades of a multilingual Chinese singer who is legendary to Asian music-loving ears.)
For a while, I musically stayed in the Hong Kong area. Through Faye Wong, I found another great Chinese singer: Aaron Kwok. His music appealed to the EDM lover in me as many of his stuff (well, what I kept finding) was electronic. (I’m sure he has material in other genres.) Through listening to Internet radios on Windows Media Player (when it had that feature – it’s what made me very familiar with a lot of the European dance/trance acts and Avex artists in the early 2000s), I’ve discovered (for a small period) a Taiwanese act called… I know the name, but I’m scared to say it because I can’t find anything on the anymore. Moving on!
Through looking through the popular artists list on the Chinese-language section of YesAsia (bear in mind this was the early to mid-2000s so it’s going to be different than what you see today), I’ve found some other names that interested me: Cookies, China Dolls, and S.H.E.
- Hong Kong’s Cookies caught my eye for a very embarrassing reason: they were called “Hong Kong’s Morning Musume” and who could blame them? The original lineup had about ten or so members that eventually dwindled (read: sliced down) to four by the end of the group’s run.
- S.H.E. caught my eye for a small bit… until I somewhat got bored of their music. (Pathetic, I know.)
- China Dolls fascinated me for the fact that they were a music act from Thailand (which means more language-related opportunities!). Plus, their music was fun to listen to.
Out of all of the girl groups mentioned in the preceding paragraph, my love for CD lasted the longest for reasons that remained mysterious to me. Where my fascination with S.H.E. lasted about a year or so and Cookies from 2003/4-2005 (helped little by the de facto disbandment), my fascination with China Dolls lasted from 2003 to maybe 2005. I also made returns to their music the most out of all of them (helped heavily by their wealth of material and the fact they sang in different languages, guaranteeing a unique listening experience).
On one hand, it also helped prepare me for this.
Fast forward to today. Listening to Cantopop/Mandopop is more popular and acceptable than before. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t get so hung up on Japanese music and culture, if I had studied Mandarin or Cantonese instead of Japanese?
(That’s the main reason I stuck with J-Pop – unlike C-Pop, I actually had a better grasp on the language! Now I’m no better than those philistines who cry out “Why would you listen to that stuff? They’re not speaking your language?!”)
What would happen? (For one thing, I probably would’ve been better prepared for Hello! Pro Taiwan and been better able to appreciate what went on therein. For another thing, this blog wouldn’t have the world “Morning” in it, now would it?)
Meditation Mantra: Hey @idolmindedcom Cpop bloggers, any suggestions? My knowledge has suffered from a decade of neglect.
(Note to self, actually check that section.)