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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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.
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:
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: