Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

I love listening to music from around the world, especially music in a language I’m trying to learn. In the past couple years that I’ve been studying Mandarin and watching Chinese dramas, I’ve been slowly building a list of various Mandarin language songs and artists I enjoy. Since I haven’t had too many shows to write about lately, I thought I’d share some of my faves on my playlist. And to make it extra challenging, I picked songs that were not from dramas I’d watched.

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Li Yuchun/李宇春 (aka Chris Lee)

Most of the music I’ve found has been via soundtracks on various dramas, but I first learned about Li Yuchun after I saw her judging a Chinese talent show. I periodically will watch her full concert videos on YouTube as I enjoy her live performances as well as her style of music. She’s definitely my favourite out of all of these artists and I’d love to go to one of her concerts.

Sense of Presence/《存在感》– This song is one of the first songs I heard from her and liked right away. It sounds like a ballad put to a dance beat. It’s also one of the few songs I can sing along with. And the video blends in the fashion side of her career with her music.

Wu Qing Feng/吳青峰 (aka Greeny Wu)

A solo performer as well as the founder and lead vocalist of the band Sodagreen, I first heard of him as the singer of my favorite song from Legend of Fuyao. (To hear it and see the video I made as a tribute to my fave character on that show, you can go here.) Based on a few Sodagreen songs I’d heard, I thought he was just a ballad guy and I tend to prefer more upbeat dance music. But then I discovered some of the more up tempo songs he’d done and have started to look into more of his work.

The Carnival in Babel/《巴别塔庆典》– After listening to a lot of his ballads, this song was a nice surprise. I like the playful energy of it and the interesting blend of instruments used. The video is also very amusing. I hope the song ends up on US iTunes soon so I can add it to my phone.

Bonus song:

As A Monster/《作为怪物》– Li Yuchun and Wu Qing Feng met on a talent show and ended up working together on what is currently my favourite song.

William Chan/陈伟霆

I knew William Chan was an actor, but never heard his music until I saw him as one of the judges on Hot Blood Dance Crew and then ended up checking out his music. I’ve enjoyed the songs he’s written for some of his shows as well as some of his dance songs. I had a hard time deciding what video to put here because I listen to his song Queen a lot, but I wanted to pick a song that reflected his more current style so…

A Stroke of Jianghu/《一笔江湖》– This was a promo song for the Hot Blood Dance Crew talent show (hey, it’s not a drama) so the dancers in it are all competitors from that show. William Chan’s sound, like his dancing, has moved on from his pop idol days to a more urban style, even with the songs he does for his dramas, and this one is a really fun blending traditional with modern music.

Jolin Tsai/蔡依林

While looking on YouTube for different Mandarin pop songs when I first started studying Mandarin, I came across Jolin Tsai’s video for Play. I loved the song and her sense of humour. (Those feuding hipsters crack me up every time.) Her more current songs and videos remind me a lot of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. I enjoy the storytelling in her videos and the messages in her music. But some of her older songs also caught my ear, especially Dancing Diva/《舞孃》.

PLAY我呸 – It was hard for me to choose one video for Jolin Tsai, so I decided to stick with the video that first got my attention as I still enjoy this song, though I don’t think I’ll be trying to take this one on in karaoke again. (How does she sing so fast?)

Mayday/五月天

While I was on a three hour bus ride from Hangzhou to Hengdian World Studios, the bus had a TV up front that was playing a concert videos for some band I didn’t know. There was one song they started playing that I really liked, but Shazam couldn’t hear enough of it to figure out the song and there wasn’t anything on the screen to help me figure out the name of the band. The only thing I could pick out was that one of the members was wearing a shirt that said DNA. I guessed that it might be related to the name of the tour or an album. I went on a Google spree and managed to figure out who they were. Turns out they are a band called Mayday that formed in Taiwan back in 1997. I never figured out what song it was that I heard that I liked, but I did manage to find a lot of other songs of theirs online. Nicknamed the “Chinese Beatles”, this was one of the few Mandarin-language bands I have found so far that had a more rock sound. (NZBZ is another Chinese group I enjoy as well.)

Party Animal/《派對動物》– I noticed that some of the songs I like from this band have a good message as well as a good beat. This one and Sad People Should Not Listen to Slow Songs are the two I listen to the most from this band.

Angela Zhang/张韶涵 (aka Angela Chang)

This is the most recent singer I discovered (literally as I was writing this). I found her via one of those YouTube recommendations that came up while I was rewatching a Wu Qing Feng video. Her voice has this slight operatic hint to it that stood out to me against what I normally hear from most pop singers in Asia. (She reminds me a little of Tan Wei Wei though without that singer’s grittier sound.)

All From Me/《因我而起》– A lot of her songs are ballads, but I liked this song’s blend of dramatic ballad and dance pop. Her current songs also blend in some more electronic elements that I found interesting.

Honorable Mentions:

Songs I’m Most Likely to Sing at Karaoke:

Ordinary Disco/普通Disco (I’m not sure who originally did this song as so many people have performed it, but I love it!!)
Make Believe/假裝我們沒愛過 – by Jiro Wang (The first Chinese song I ever sang at karaoke.)

Fave Boy Band Songs:

Mama by Exo-M

Boy Band Dance Moves I Think I Could Actually Do:

Super Style by Spexial

Favorite Mandopop/K-pop Mashup:

SNH48 performing Little Apple/《小苹果》mixed with PSY’s Gentleman

 

Who are your favourite Mandarin language singers? Is there a song you can’t do without? Are there any you actually could karaoke?

If you want to listen to more, you can check out my playlist on YouTube.

I also made a playlist on Spotify:

  1. 12 thoughts on “Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

    Thanks for sharing your playlist!

    For me, Mayday is the only band I’ve paid twice to see in person in the States. (Their concerts in Taiwan are apparently way better.) I’d recommend watching their concert DVDs as well. All good stuff! I don’t even consider myself a dedicated fan, just someone who really likes the messages they have in their music.

    My recent playlist consists of songs from dramas that I’ve watched or not watched. For a while I was also listening to Chinese “gu feng” (Chinese style music) with EDM. I listen to gu feng all the time so it was pretty cool to see it done with EDM. If anyone is interested, look up the artist 音阙诗听 on Spotify or Youtube and you’ll find plenty of her music.

    Some gu feng artists have gone mainstream by singing soundtrack songs, like Yin Lin for The Untamed, but I still prefer her other songs more.

    Non-gu feng artists I listen to and like: Vanessa Jin Minqi, Yisa Yu, Olivia Ong, Tanya Chua, Joanna Wang, Rennie Wang, G.E.M., Khalil Fong, JJ Lin, Zhang Jie, Liang Bo, Eric Chou, etc.

  2. 12 thoughts on “Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

    My current mandopop playlist is full of Hua Chen Yu (华晨宇) songs. Love his voice, style and talent. Hua Chen Yu’s live performances are so much fun to watch. Especially when you see how awkward/shy he is offstage. His rearrangement of famous songs/music is always good IMO. I would plan my next trip to China around his concert just to see him perform live in person!

    Below are some of my faves (all composed by Hua Chen Yu). I’ve chosen to share his live TV performances rather than the official MV. There is just so much energy live with an enthusiastic crowd. It’s also amusing how the stage crew always provides speakers or low tables for him to step on =)

    1. Unplugged version of《荒野魂斗罗》- https://youtu.be/ObY4BAuOvhM
    Fun Fact: Hua Chen Yu composed this song based on the BGM of the Contra video game on the second season of “The Next”. This new unplugged arrangement was for the currently airing “Singer 2020”. Live streaming and no crowd for this performance though due to the COVID-19 situation.

    2.《齐天大圣》- https://youtu.be/tvA78U8sWn0
    Fun Fact: Hua Chen Yu composed this song based on the famous intro theme song for the 1986 Journey to the West Chinese drama on the first season of “The Next”. Check out the original theme song before listening to Hua’s song here – https://youtu.be/Tdj9ZOcc6zQ.

    3.《齐天》- https://youtu.be/cUG4fLLd4yQ
    Fun Fact: This is the theme song for the 2017 Wu Kong movie starring Eddie Peng and Ni Ni. You can watch the movie MV version here – https://youtu.be/xjo1FCW9_kM.

    4.《异类》- https://youtu.be/9G9DG6c3-z4
    Fun Fact: The lyrics are by NZBZ (南征北战), a band I also really like.

    • 12 thoughts on “Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

      Thanks for your recommendations! The 1986 Journey to the West was my childhood and I still reckon the opening theme song is the bomb! I can still hum, shriek and dadada along even now! Especially watching the link you provided. Loved it! That rendition by Hua Chenyu is awesome! Haven’t heard of him but looks like I’ll be checking out some of his stuff now.

      And did not realise there was a 2017 Wu Kong movie starring Eddie Peng and Ni Ni. I’ve been living under a rock. I must check it out, too.

    • 12 thoughts on “Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

      Thanks for sharing your list Enid, Polaris, Oolong!!

      I really like the modern rendition of 1986’s themesong! 😀

  3. 12 thoughts on “Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

    mayday fan over here~~ i think i’ll always have a soft spot for them, as many of their songs over the years manage to resonate with me as i go through different phases of my life..

    recently my playlist is filled with songs by Mao Buyi, really love his voice.. his songs are mostly slow songs though, maybe not really catchy or upbeat, but like he’s telling a story in a soft murmur.. oh he sang a few OST too, like 不染 (which i think is quite well known), but i prefer those songs he composed himself, like he’s using the songs to paint picture or tell a story, very beautiful..

  4. 12 thoughts on “Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

    The early Exo songs are very entertaining; Mama, Growl, Wolf, History and Overdose. I bought both M and K-versions.

    My most favorite Chinese song is the New Year’s Song by Andy Lau (original MV version). I even memorized some of the lyrics phonetically.

  5. 12 thoughts on “Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

    Lol, all I can recommend/share is of old school stuff. Haven’t been listening to much of Chinese songs, except for wuxia drama OSTs, so I don’t really know who’s it and trending these days… or even years, legit.

    Baaaaack in the days, I really enjoyed Jay Chou, Fish Leong, Richie Ren, May Day, random OST songs, F4, 5566…

    • 12 thoughts on “Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

      @Linja – If you like Jay Chou, you can also check out Hua Chen Yu’s version of Jay Chou’s《双截棍》(the nunchucks song). Both are great and fun in their own way.

      Hua Chen Yu’s version – https://youtu.be/RPHmVoxZfmM
      Jay Chou’s original – https://youtu.be/OR-0wptI_u0

      @Enid Bee – Thanks for all your great song suggestions. I really like MayDay’s Party Animal song.

      I also wanted to recommend the variety show/competition《我们的歌》”Our Song”, especially if you are a Xiao Zhan fan (which I am!). I also became a fan of Zhou Shen because of this show. He and Hacken Lee provided so much comedy just being themselves. It’s a fun and non-competitive environment where everyone enjoys the performances. And the only show I can think of that added 2 episodes for a reunion during the Chinese New Year just for performances and games.

      1. Full Episodes Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGjsh-EBqdUOHA4Mo4OpgmmIFgpdRb-8l
      2. Performances Only Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGjsh-EBqdUMag3bak0D3-Jp5VExPNE7a

      Xiao Zhan wasn’t the best singer IMO, but I think he and Na Ying/Angela Zhang had the most diverse and catchy song choices (no bias I think…=P). Every week was a different genre and always entertaining.

      Some of my favourite Xiao Zhan performances:
      《完美生活》with Na Ying – https://youtu.be/llj0xBB8moA
      《Faded》with Angela Zhang – https://youtu.be/X3pcrVzGNaU
      《恼人的秋风》(Chinese ABBA) with Na Ying – https://youtu.be/N5HG6Ajt8cI
      *One of the show’s tribute to the Untamed/Wei Wuxian – https://youtu.be/6o-If2DMpi8

    • 12 thoughts on “Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

      @amalee, I like your playlist and we like the same artists. Yes, Li Rong Hao is good and I am usually surprised why he wasn’t mentioned often enough. For mandarin ballads, another artist I like is Eric Chou (周興哲). However, I am a die hard fan of Jackie Cheung since the late 1980s. Bought all his albums when they came out (in original CD and cassette packs from waaay back then) and went to some of his concerts. He sings mostly Cantonese songs but many of his songs have mandarin versions too. If Jackie’s songs are a bit too “old style” for you, then definitely check out Eric Chou’s songs – they are more suited for the taste of the current young generation.

  6. 12 thoughts on “Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

    Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. I’ve been enjoying checking out other artists and adding new songs to my playlist.

  7. 12 thoughts on “Mandarin Playlist Suggestions

    I love Jolin. I have alot of her old n new albums. When Ugly Beauty came out I bought the whole album digitally. But my most fave artist is forever Jay Chou. Fearless is still on my most played playlist.

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