What’s the music you hear on the subways and in taxis? Those love ballads mixed with wailing guitar rifts that serenade you throughout department stores and malls? Why that’s C-pop, China’s very own brand of pop music. C-pop or Chinese popular music (中文流行音乐 pronounced: zhōngwén liúxíng yīnyuè), is a loosely defined musical genre by artists originating from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan that is characteristically Chinese–made by Chinese people for Chinese people.
Like J-pop, Japan’s version of pop-culture music, C-pop is defined by linguistic roots, cultural peculiarities and media obsessions. C-pop is predominantly mandarin or 普通话 (pǔ tōng huà) and relates to populations either within the mainland and Taiwan area or transnational groups in the US and Southeast Asia. In Hong Kong, where cantonese or 广东话 (Guǎng dōng huà) is still predominantly spoken, C-pop has a much different sound due to the dialect and accents.
There are currently three main subgenres within C-pop: Cantopop (Hong Kong), Mandopop (mainland), and Hokkien pop (Taiwan) which relate to linguistic and cultural differences based on geography. C-pop in mainland China relies on simplified characters or 简体字 (jiǎn tǐ zì), while Taiwan and Hong Kong prefer traditional characters or 繁体字 (fán tǐ zì).
C-pop includes a wide variety of musical genres, including everything from hip-hop to rock and R&B to “boy bands”. From my experience the majority of C-pop relates to “pop” sounding artists, including an attractive male of female artist singing sappy love songs (we do that here in the US too!). Then there are those songs of the techno-house variety that are sure to drive you insane after a few too many nights at Karaoke or 卡拉OK (kǎlā ōukèi) and the clubs.
As the Chinese domestic economy grows, C-pop will continue to enter the homes of millions of new fans, replacing the grip that western music has had on popular music in the mainland for quite some time. My question: Is the rest of the world ready for Chinese boy bands? Here’s Top Combine or 至上励合, one of the first boy bands from the mainland. You be the judge…
…I think I just had a seizure.
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