Article by Matt Taylor
Graphics by Allison Sun
Editor's Note: Following on from our 'Songs of Defiance' piece on LGBTIQ Mandopop, the recent Hong Kong protests caught our attention and made us think about the Cantopop canon in a new light. If 'Songs of Defiance' define the spirit of musical and societal interactions in Taiwan, 'Songs of Survival' truly represent Hong Kong's brand of fighting spirit.
The word ‘Cantopop’ is one that immediately brings to mind legends such as Sam Hui 許冠傑, Anita Mui 梅艳芳, and Jacky Cheung張學友. A symbol of Hong Kong’s reputation as the cultural powerhouse of the Chinese-speaking world in the 1980s; these artists and many more were the embodiment of a cultural and economic golden age with their soaring ballads, irresistible dance numbers, and elaborate over-the-top performances. By the 1990s however, the rise of China as a potential market and the impending handover of Hong Kong to the Beijing government seemed to have set the industry on a seemingly irreversible decline.
As such, it makes sense that contemporary iterations of Cantopop are also inherently political - an intrinsic barrier to the Mainland’s Mandarin-language culture homogenization efforts. In a fight to keep alive Hong Kong’s uniqueness and autonomy as a nation; people are clinging to Cantopop in a last-ditch survival effort to express their identity and be heard.
Especially given the recent protests surrounding a controversial extradition bill, Cantopop is emerging more and more as a critical mouthpiece for the people of Hong Kong. Here we look at the ways Hong Kongers are using the Cantopop canon to make their voices heard.
About this feature series: ‘Profiles' is an all-new feature series where we dedicate an article to highlighting how certain Mandopop artists have changed the scene. These features promise a unique perspective and shine a new light on artists that we think deserve to be applauded for their contributions to the contemporary Mandopop scene.
By Matt Taylor
Editor: Jocelle Koh
Formatting: Raymond Hiew
"I am going to do something great today — it is one of the decisions I made for myself since I turned 30. I finally understand why people like to take selfies of themselves as you really want to take a picture of yourself when you have a high morale."
The world of Chinese language entertainment spun into mourning on Sunday (August 5) when it had been announced that Hong Kong musician and actress Ellen Loo盧凱彤 had under non-suspicious circumstances been found on the floor outside her residency building after falling from her apartment. Ellen was 32 years old.
Since that unfortunate day, there has been an overwhelming outpouring of sympathy and sadness from celebrities, politicians and fans alike. Choosing to premiere our Profiles feature series with an article on Ellen however, is not to lament this tragic loss, but rather to celebrate and pay homage to the understated talent, endearing spirit and lasting legacy of one of pop music’s brightest and alternatively influential stars.
Defying Societal Gender Expectations in Pop Music