Best Chinese Songs of the 2000s

Perhaps the best decade ever in Chinese popular music, the period from 2000 to 2009 saw a vast array of superstars emerge, mostly from the island of Taiwan. It would be difficult to list the biggest songs of the decade as these differed considerably among the various geographical regions of the Chinese world. These are our picks of the 20 best songs. To keep things tidy, we’ll list only one song per artist.

20. “Lie” by Yoga Lin (Taiwan)

Chinese: 说谎, 林宥嘉
Pinyin Romanization: Shuo Huang, Lin Youjia
Year of Release: 2009

One of the biggest songs of the year all over China and so irresistible that it nabbed top awards in Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong, “Lie” was sung by a young man who swept Season 1 of the One Million Star singing competition in Taiwan emerging as champion.

19. “The First Snows of 2002″ by Dao Lang (PRC)

Chinese: 2002年的第一场雪, 刀郎
Pinyin Romanization: 2002 Nian De Di Yi Chang Xue, Dao Lang
Year of Release: 2002

Known for his characteristically gruff voice and taking up residence in Xinjiang, this bar-hopping hat-wearing Sichuan-born musician was in top form when he released this classic in 2002.

18. “Dad” by Wang Zheng (PRC)

Chinese: 爸爸, 王筝
Pinyin Romanization: Ba Ba, Wang Zheng
Year of Release: 2008

Though debuting in 2004, this Xi’an native hit the big time in the Summer Olympic year with her album I Love No One More Than You which won awards in China. Best cut from the album, in our opinion, is this piano ballad.

17. “Growing Up More Lonely” by Milk@Coffee (PRC)

Chinese: 越长大越孤单, 牛奶&咖啡
Pinyin Romanization: Zhang Da Yue Yue Gu Dan, Niu Nai & Ka Fei
Year of Release: 2008

This was the Mainland’s answer to Taiwan’s F.I.R.—the first male/female band in the PRC. They sing about urbanization and the pressures of life growing up in the big city.

16. “Beautiful Myth” by Sun Nan and Han Hong (PRC)

Chinese: 美丽的神话, 孙楠 and 韩红
Pinyin Romanization: Mei Li De Shen Hua, Sun Nan and Han Hong
Year of Release: 2005

This was the theme song of Jackie Chan’s movie The Myth. There were at least two versions of the duet. One was sung by the two stars of the film, and this was sung by professional singers from the PRC.

15. “Tender” by Mayday (Taiwan)

Chinese: 溫柔, 五月天
Pinyin Romanization: Wen Rou, Wu Yue Tian
Year of Release: 2000

This was the song that made Mayday the biggest Chinese rock band of the decade.

14. “Can’t Shut the Window” by Steve Zhou (Taiwan)

Chinese: 关不上的窗, 周传雄
Pinyin Romanization: Guan Bu Shang de Chuang, Zhou Chuanxiong
Year of Release: 2009

Stevie’s been so generous writing songs for other singers over the years that it’s easy to overlook the fact that he can sing these songs better than most of those to whom he gives them. An exquisite voice (much better than the other Zhou) makes us wish we could hear more from him. This song is one of his best.

13. “Our Love” by F.I.R. (Taiwan)

Chinese: 我们的爱, 飞儿乐团
Pinyin Romanization: Wo Men De Ai, Fei’er Yuetuan
Year of Release: 2004

It seemed to take forever before China had a male/female rock band. These guys arrived heroically to fill the void. Their “Lydia” was more popular but we prefer this sonorous anthem. It was kind of them to come and perform in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

12. “He Still Doesn’t Understand” by S.H.E (Taiwan)

Chinese: 他还是不懂, S.H.E
Pinyin Romanization: Ta Hai Shi Bu Dong, S.H.E
Year of Release: 2004

Easily the most popular singing group of the decade, this trio of Taiwanese women rocketed to superstardom with their rocking “Super Star” in 2003. Of their scores of chart toppers through the years, this was arguably their best.

11. “Afterwards” by Rene Liu (Taiwan)

Chinese: 后来, 刘若英
Pinyin Romanization: Hou Lai, Liu Ruoying
Year of Release: 2000

One of the biggest hits of all time, Rene covered the Japanese original and made it into a much better Chinese version.

10. “At Least I Still Have You” by Sandy Lam (Hong Kong)

Chinese: 至少还有你, 林忆莲
Pinyin Romanization: Zhi Shao Hai You Ni, Lin Yilian
Year of Release: 2000

This is Chinese piano pop at its love ballad best. Sandy, big in the late-80s / early 90s, made a huge comeback with this winner.

9. “Breathing Pain” by Fish Leong (Malaysia)

Chinese: 会呼吸的痛, 梁静茹
Pinyin Romanization: Hui Hu Xi de Tong, Liang Jingru
Year of Release: 2007

One of the most popular singers of the decade, it’s difficult to pick the best offering from the queen of love songs. We’ll settle on this sweet, catchy, playful song.

8. “Invisible Wings” by Angela Zhang (Taiwan)

Chinese: 隐形的翅膀, 张韶涵
Pinyin Romanization: Yin Xing De Chi Bang, Zhang Shaohan
Year of Release: 2006

With a somewhat country flavour, sung by the irresistible voice of Vancouver-educated Angela Zhang, this song made her a household name overnight in 2006.

7. “Can’t Guess” by Della Ding (Taiwan)

Chinese: 猜不透, 丁当
Pinyin Romanization: Cai Bu Tou, Ding Dang
Year of Release: 2008

By the end of the decade Della Ding, with a strong, mature voice, was poised to become the next Taiwanese female superstar. This resounding masterpiece, with an extremely addictive chorus, somehow escaped the attention of most, perhaps too swept up in Olympic Fever in 2008.

6. “I Will” by Zhang Liyin (PRC)

Chinese: 星愿, 張力尹
Pinyin Romanization: Xing Yuan, Zhang Liyin
Year of Release: 2008

This gets our vote for the most overlooked song of the decade. Zhang Liyin from Chengdu in the PRC spent part of her life growing up in Korea and her record company SM Entertainment did little to promote her in China. She is undoubtedly the best singer since Coco Lee. This song is absolutely beautiful.

5. “Common Jasmin Orange” by Jay Zhou (Taiwan)

Chinese: 七里香, 周杰伦
Pinyin Romanization: Qi Li Xiang, Zhou Jielun
Year of Release: 2004

This was the best song from the best-selling Chinese singer of the decade, recognized not only for the extremely catchy music but for the deep poetry of its lyrics.

4. “Thanks to Heartache” by Twins (Hong Kong)

Chinese: 多谢失恋, Twins
Pinyin Romanization: Duo Xie Shi Lian, Twins
Year of Release: 2003

This is the way Cantonese songs should be done—staccato rhythms. And, I suppose, two voices are better than one.

3. “Fear” by Stefanie Sun (Singapore)

Chinese: 害怕, 孙燕姿
Pinyin Romanization: Hai Pa, Sun Yanzi
Year of Release: 2000

Although we chose this lesser hit, just about anything Stefanie did could be placed here, whether it was her gorgeous “Dark Skies”, cute “Encounter”, riveting “Green Light”, or exquisite “Magic”. But somehow, this delicate, haunting piano ballad seems to get better with every repeated listen.

2. “Fairy Tale” by Michael Wong (Malaysia)

Chinese: 童话, 光良
Pinyin Romanization: Tong Hua, Guangliang
Year of Release: 2005

This was the most successful song of the new millennium. It topped the charts for months in early 2005 and scores of people translated the lyrics into their own languages, learned to play it on the piano and uploaded their amateur performances onto Youtube. This song blows any English song of the past ten years out the water—easily. Perfectly composed, expertly arranged, and beautifully sung, this is a masterpiece.

It sounds nice when played on the piano too – Link

1. “Fireworks” by Gigi Leung (Hong Kong)

Chinese: 花火, 梁咏琪
Pinyin Romanization: Hua Huo, Liang Yongqi
Year of Release: 2001

Just as the Inuit have a hundred words for snow and the Arabs for sand, the Chinese have a hundred words for the different kinds of fireworks. Hua Huo is the kind that rains down a shower of sparks. And listening to the song “Hua Huo” makes you rain down tears. A lighter, sweeter masterpiece than Michael Wong’s rich and heavy tune and slightly more captivating, this is the kind of song that makes you fall in love with Chinese music. The lyrics and music were both composed by the singer herself. A Cantonese version exists but the Mandarin version is superior on all counts. MTV Asia awarded this as song of the year in 2001. And we award it the best song of the decade.

You can find our Best Chinese Songs of the 1980s HERE.

And our Best Chinese Songs of the 1990s HERE.

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