We all know about K-pop but what is C-pop. You’d say “Easy, Chinese pop”. Which is true… but it’s so much more and the term is used as an umbrella for not only pop but all types of music genres, like R&B, ballads, rock, hip hop and ambient music. Though in the early 1990’s rock branched off as their own genre.
Within C-pop there are three main subgenre’s; Canto-, Mando- and Minnanpop. The gap between Cantonese and mandarin pop is become more and more narrow and most of the mandarin pop artists are from Taiwan and Cantopop singers are from Hong Kong. Minnanpop is strongly influenced by Japanese Enka. One of the bigger Minnanpop artists is Jody Chiang.
History of pop music in China
The term shidaiqu (meaning “music of the era” or “popular music”) is used to describe all contemporary music sung in Mandarin and other Chinese dialects recorded in China From 1920 to 1952, then in Hong Kong until the 1960s. Shanghai was the main hub of the Chinese popular music recording industry, and an important name of the period is composer Li Jinhui. Buck Clayton is credited with bringing American jazz influence to China and the music gained popularity in hangout quarters of nightclubs and dance halls of major cities in the 1920s. A number of privately run radio stations from the late 1920s to the 1950s played C-pop. Around 1927, Li Jinhui composed “The Drizzle” (“毛毛雨”) sung by his daughter Li Minghui (黎明暉), and this song is generally regarded as the first Chinese pop song. It fuses jazz and Chinese folk music – the tune is in the style of a traditional pentatonic folk melody, but the instrumentation is similar to that of an American jazz orchestra.
However during the Cultural Revolution pop music was viewed as ‘Yellow Music’, thus labelled as a form of pornography, this caused many of the Chinese artists and record companies to move to Taiwan and Hong Kong. It wasn’t until 1970 when Cantonese pop and manopop rose rapidly there that, due to economic reforms, pop music returned to Mainland China. Though for a long time the government still had censorship over music, even banning a Hong Kong artist from performing in China back in 1990.
In these 50 years still there have been strict political influences and this also means that the music is different from western because of cultural and social views.
In 2000 Eolasia.com was the first online c-pop portal in Hong Kong. It offered legal music downloads five years later, backed up by Sony, Emi and Warner music. Most Hong Kong Citizens had to buy certain songs with their identity cards.
In 2008 China’s top search platform Baidu.com was sued for providing music listening, broadcasting and downloading illegally. But even to this day Piracy in China is very common, you can download almost anything and there seem to be entire rings of people who also record movies in the movie theatre. Buying CDs and DVDs aren’t as big anymore as they used to be but when you buy them it’s almost Always a knock off, but you can see that in the price too since you don’t pay a lot for them.
Google (but it has been closed) and Top100.cn have opened legal music hubs available for Mainland Chinese in 2009 and every year more C-pop makes bigger leaps to become the most popular music.
A couple very popular artists in China are mostly from Taiwan but here’s the ones I like most, lately Kpop is emerging rapidly in China aswell.
Jackson Wang (of Got7)