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Li Jinhui, the father of Chinese popular music

C-pop is an abbreviation for Chinese popular music (simplified Chinese: 中文流行音乐traditional Chinese: 中文流行音樂Mandarin Pinyin: zhōngwén liúxíng yīnyuèJyutping: zung1man4 lau4hang4 jam1ngok6), a loosely defined musical genre by artists originating from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Others come from countries where the Chinese language is used by a large number of the population, such as Singapore and Malaysia. C-pop is sometimes used as an umbrella term covering not only Chinese pop but also R&B, ballads, Chinese rock, Chinese hip hop and Chinese ambient music, although Chinese rock branched off as a separate genre during the early 1990s. Chinese R&B was pioneered by Alex To in the 90s, but has since been used as the major composition style for artists such as Jay Chou, David Tao, Khalil Fong and Leehom Wang.

C-Pop originated out of shidaiqu. There are two subgenres within C-pop: cantopop and mandopop. The gap between cantopop and mandopop has been narrowing in the new millennium. Taiwanese pop is similar in music style but is counted as a separate genre due to its roots in Japanese enka.



Buck Clayton, the American who helped bring Jazz influence to Shanghai.

From 1920 to 1949 "Chinese popular music" was used to describe all contemporary music sung in Chinese dialects in Shanghai. An important name was Li Jinhui. Buck Clayton is credited with bringing American jazz influence to China and the music gained popularity in hangout quarters of nightclubs and dancehalls of major cities in the 1920s. A number of privately-run radio stations from the late 1920s to the 1950s played C-pop.[1]

Around the time of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the Chinese Civil War, pop music was seen as a leftist distraction. After the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II C-pop has been marketed, produced and branded regionally. The Communist Party of China established the People's Republic of China in 1949. One of its first actions was to label the genre "Yellow Music" (the color is associated with pornography). The Shanghai pop music industry then took pop music to Hong Kong and in the 1970s developed cantopop. The Kuomintang, relocated to Taiwan, discouraged the native Taiwanese Hokkien from the 1950s to the late 1980s. As a result, mandopop became the dominant musical genre in Taiwan.

In 2000 was founded as the first online C-pop music portal in Hong Kong. The company survived the dot-com bubble and offered online legal music downloads in February 2005, backed by EMI, Warner Music and Sony BMG.[2] It primarily targets consumers in Hong Kong and Macau: some songs require Hong Kong Identity Cards to purchase.

In August 2008 Norman Cheng, father of HK singer Ronald Cheng, acquired the remaining portion of EMI Music Asia when EMI, which had entered China in the early 20th century, withdrew from the Chinese market. Typhoon music made the purchase for an estimated HK$100 million.[3][4]

In February 2008 mainland China's top search engine was sued by local industry groups for providing music listening, broadcasting and downloading without approval.[5] Piracy continues to exist in China[6] but Google have since announced a cooperation deal offering free listening and genuine music copies. was founded by basketball star Yao Ming, agent Zhang Mingji and music insider Chen Ge via a 20 million yuan investment.[7] Google mp3 became available in March 2009.[8]

At the end of 2007 RTHK began promoting a tribute called (不死傳奇) literally "Immortal Legends" in honor of the singers who died a legend in the industry. The honor was given to Roman Tam, Anita Mui, Teresa Teng, Leslie Cheung, Wong Ka Kui and Danny Chan.[9] All six pop stars played a major role in developing the Hong Kong or Taiwan music industry. The future of C-pop in mainland China however, is still a very controversial one. The Chinese government's banning of the highly popular show Super girl is an example.[10]

Major production centres

Problems listening to these files? See media help.
Genre Common Names Location Region uses
C-pop Cantopop Hong Kong Traditional Chinese
Mandopop Taiwan Traditional Chinese
Beijing Simplified Chinese
Hong Kong Traditional Chinese
Shanghai Simplified Chinese

Smaller, emerging hubs

Genre Common Names Location Region uses
C-pop Cantopop Guangdong Simplified Chinese
Malaysia Simplified Chinese
Vancouver Traditional Chinese
Mandopop Singapore Simplified & Traditional*
Malaysia Simplified Chinese & Traditional*

* for artists who release albums primarily in the Taiwanese music industry e.g. Stefanie Sun, JJ Lin, Wilber Pan, Leehom Wang.

See also


  1. ^ Miller, Toby (2003). Television: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies. Routledge Publishing. ISBN 0415255023
  2. ^ Entertainment News Wire. "ENW at" Download store to debut in Hong Kong. Retrieved on 2008-03-18.
  3. ^ "" EMI Withdraws from China, Following HK Acquisition. Retrieved on 2008-09-08.
  4. ^ "" EMI selling China business. Retrieved on 2008-09-08.
  5. ^ Msnbc. "Msnbc." China's top search engine accused of aiding illicit online copying. Retrieved on 2008-03-19.
  6. ^ China Briefing Media. [2004] (2004) Business Guide to the Greater Pearl River Delta. China Briefing Media Ltd. ISBN 9889867311
  7. ^ "" Google embarks on free music downloading. Retrieved on 2008-03-19.
  8. ^ "" Google to Launch Free Music Service in China. Retrieved on 2009-05-03.
  9. ^ RTHK. "RTHK immortal legends." RTHK program archive. Retrieved on 2007-12-31.
  10. ^ "" Foreign Influence in TV & Film. Retrieved on 2008-03-30.

Simple English

C-pop is short for Chinese popular music. Traditional Chinese: 中文流行音樂; simplified Chinese: 中文流行音乐. Most of today's C-pop artists are from Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China, as well as from other countries where Mandarin or Cantonese language is used, such as Singapore and Malaysia. However, Taiwanese music has some origins from the Japanese enka so Taiwanese pop is sometimes said to be a different genre from C-Pop.


Cantonese pop

Cantonese pop, or colloquially known as Cantopop, is a subgenre of C-pop, sung in Cantonese language. Most Hong Kong-born singers start off as Cantonese pop singers before starting a career as a Mandarin pop singer. Cantonese pop artists include:

The Four Heavenly Kings

"The Four Heavenly Kings" of Cantonese pop are Leon Lai, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok and Jacky Jeung.

In the early 1990s, many major Cantonese pop stars (such as Alan Tam, Leslie Cheung, Samuel Hui, Priscilla Chan and Joseph Koo) decided to retire because of the protests in China in 1989. Cantonese pop needed new talent to fill the gaps left by these retired stars, this led to the beginning of "the Four Heavenly Kings" or "四大天王" (lit. Four Great Kings of Heaven): Jacky Jeung, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai. They were dominated the media in all forms, from magazines, TV, cinema to music.

Mandarin pop

Mandarin pop (Traditional Chinese: 華語流行音樂; Simplified Chinese: 华语流行音乐; Pinyin: Huá Yǔ Liú Xíng Yīn Yuè) is a subgenre of C-pop. Also known as Mandopop and Mandapop, Mandarin pop songs are performed in Mandarin. Most Cantonese pop stars also expand their music career into the Mandarin pop scene.

Other websites

  1. Chinese Music Blog - Chinese music online community providing Chinese music discussion, album review, lyrics translation and romanization for non-Chinese speakers.
  2. C-Pop Fantasie - Online resource for c-pop, providing lyrics, downloads, video shows, and more.

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