Hit FM Awards, 2011

Yesterday, Hit Fm completed its first annual global golden chart awards show at the Taibei Arena. The show opened with a tour de force performace by Jolin Cai who sang Madonna’s “Vogue” followed by her own “Honey Trap”. Best male and female awards went to Alexander Wang and Fish Leong, while the Best Group award went to S.H.E. Some of the awards given were…

Best new artist gold award: Hebe Tian
Most popular artist: Han Geng
Best stage performer: Elva Xiao
Most popular group: Super Junior – M
Best group: S.H.E
Most popular female artist: Jolin Cai
Most popular male artist: Jay Zhou
Best all-round artist: Show Luo
Best composer: Alexander Wang
Best producer: JJ Lin
Best male artist: Alexander Wang
Best female artist: Fish Leong
Best Chinese album: The Era, Jay Zhou

Awards were also given for the 20 most popular songs.

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.

Four New Divas in Y2K

With the retirement of Mavis Xu, Singaporeans wondered if they would ever have a replacement. No one would have imagined that not only would two arrive instantaneously but that one of them would become the biggest-selling female singer throughout the Chinese world in the first half of the decade. Her name was Stefanie Sun. Their other singer, who enjoyed appreciable success, was Tanya Chua.

Malaysia, perhaps intent on not allowing their southern neighbour to outdo them, got behind their Fish “Jasmine” Liang. She became one of the top 3 women throughout the decade.

Hong Kong’s big name appearing in the new millennium was Joey Yung. She was not stellar outside of Cantonese China until she sang a Mandarin version of a TV commercial for Banyan Garden Residential Towers in 2003. While Eason was the number one male singer in the 2Ks Hong Kong, Joey became the top female. Taiwan’s new star in Y2K was R&B diva Elva Xiao.


Stefanie Sun

Chinese Name: 孙燕姿
Mandarin Name: Sūn Yànzī
(b. 1978 in Singapore)

Biggest Hits:

天黑黑 “Dark Skies”

Tonight I Feel Close to You (English)
Hey Jude (English, cover)
神奇 “Magic”

Singer-songwriter Stefanie Sun from Singapore was the middle of three daughters. After completing a degree in marketing, she was discovered by her own music teacher and released her first (self-titled) album. Its single, “Dark Skies”, an adaptation of a traditional Taiwanese folk song, turned her into an overnight sensation all over the Chinese-speaking world. Sun’s first several albums sold over a million copies in each. Her album To Be Continued included the song “Magic” wherein she used Indian-style music. She covered The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” which was very popular. But perhaps her most famous song was “Encounter” theme song of the Gigi Leung movie Turn Left, Turn Right. (Gigi sung the Cantonese version).

Sun has sold over 10 million copies of her albums in Asia, a feat which only Faye Wang achieved before her. During the first half of the decade she was the number one female Chinese singer in the world. She was overtaken in the middle of the decade by Jolin Cai. These two top females of the decade are good friends and often appear in each other’s concerts.


Fish (Jasmine) Leong

Chinese Name: 梁静茹
Mandarin Name: Liáng Jìngrú
(b. 1978 in Bahau, Malaysia)

Biggest Hits:

亲亲 “Kiss”
分手快乐 “Happy Breakup”
勇气 “Courage”


Malaysia had produced a couple of notable Chinese pop stars but their first superstar emerged in Y2K: Fish Liang Jing Ru. She is best-known for love ballads in which she talks about different stages of relationships. She is also known for her soft voice.

The Fish grew up in a small town and entered singing competitions as a teenager, winning many of them. She was eventually discovered by Taiwan’s Jonathan Lee. She signed with Rock Records in Taiwan, releasing her debut album in 1999 only to find herself in the midst of an earthquake cancelling all promotional engagements. Her sophomore effort, Courage, mainly due to the title-track, turned her into a star. All her albums were best-sellers throughout the decade making her the third biggest female singer after Stefanie and Jolin. 

Elva Xiao

Chinese Name: 萧亚轩
Mandarin Name: Xiāo Yǎxuān
(b. 1979 in Taibei, Taiwan)

Biggest Hits:

最熟悉的陌生人 “The Most Familiar Stranger”
突然想起你 “Suddenly Think of You”
进行式 (with Anson Hu)
WOW (with Show Luo)

This R&B diva Elva Xiao Ya Xuan attended school for a couple of years in Vancouver. While there she entered a singing competition. She was a member of the female trio Phenomenon, but when the other two members dropped out, she began a solo career. She signed onto Virgin Records under EMI and released her debut solo album in mid-November 1999. It went on to sell over a million copies in Y2K thanks to the hits “Suddenly Think of You” and “The Most Familiar Stranger”. In mid-August 2000, her follow-up album, Red Rose, was just as popular thanks to another pair of big hits. Elva released several more successful albums and collaborated on one song with British band Blue. In 2003 she sang a duet with Shanghai’s first notable pop star—Anson Hu. But in 2004, Elva and Virgin Records parted ways.

Elva was so popular that the other major record companies vied for her, especially Warner and Song. The former won in the end and she became their fifth major diva (after Sammi Cheng, A-Mei, Natasha Na, and Stefanie Sun). They promised Elva’s fans that they would have a new album out in June 2005. But Warner was suffering from internal power struggles which included resignations of a number of top executives. While this had a negative impact on the other singers, Elva suffered most (because she was the newest addition she was lowest on priorities) and her new album’s release was delayed for months. Fans were angered and spammed the company website causing it to crash for a week. In 2006 with the album being delayed indefinitely, Elva released a couple of singles and went to Los Angeles USA to work on dance routines. Finally, the album was released On December 22nd. Its title, 1087, was the number of days since Elva’s previous album had been released (December 30th, 2003).

All the delays meant that Elva would only be releasing the one album before her contract ended. She obviously was not impressed with Warner and was invited back to Virgin-EMI in 2008 in a nice $8 million USD deal. She described the move as “returning home”. She has released three albums since then with increasingly slicker production, including a delving into dancey electronica.


Joey Yung

Chinese Name: 容祖儿
Cantonese Name: Yung Jo Yee
Mandarin Name: Róng Zǔér
(b. 1980 in Hong Kong)

Biggest Hits:

谁来爱我 “Who Will Love Me?”
我的骄傲 “My Pride”
挥着翅膀的女孩 “Angel Girl”

Joey can be considered Jolin Cai’s counterpart in Hong Kong as she became Hong Kong’s premier female singer. She began entering singing contests from the age of 15. She had a rough ride with her first two record companies (local labels) and retreated to help her mother with her fashion boutique. The godfather of Cantopop, Roman Tam took her under his wing, providing her with singing lessons. She joined the Emperor Entertainment Group in 1998 and released an EP in 1999. At 23 weeks, it broke the record for consecutive weeks on the album charts in Hong Kong. It sold 130,000 copies in the city. In January 2000, her apartment was set on fire. She released her debut album and enjoyed her first big hit: “Who Will Love Me?”, the album’s title-track.

After a couple more Cantonese releases, Yung came out with her first Mandarin album in 2001. She would learn, as many Hong Kongers were discovering, that times had changed and, with the new boom of Mandarin singers emerging from Taiwan, it would take tremendous effort for a Hong Konger to become a big name in the rest of China. The press began giving her a hard time criticizing her obesity.

She decided to shift into higher gears, taking dancing lessons. She slimmed down her figure and reappeared with a new sexy image. And then she sang the song “My Pride”, theme song of a TV commercial for Banyan Garden Residential Towers. She recorded a Mandarin version called “Angel Girl”. And with that, she conquered the entire Chinese world. By the end of the year she had become the new Queen of the Hong Kong music scene, winning the Most Popular Female Singer award at the Jade Solid Gold Ceremony. She embarked on a world tour which included Canada, the United States, Australia, Mainland China, and Malaysia. In 2004 she earned $60 million HKD. Her releases and popularity continued through the decade.