My Fav Five: Chinese Songs

Opinion posted April 10, 2023 in

”红豆 (Red Bean)” by Khalil Fong

Soul and R&B sound great in every language and Khalil Fong is a little evidence of that. He is one of my longstanding favorite Chinese R&B artists and is among the first international artists I was exposed to.

Fong is a well-rounded musician who grew in popularity throughout his early to late 20s and the 2000s and has also written, composed and produced tons of pieces in both English and Chinese.

The song “Red Bean” is originally sung by the remarkable “Chungking Express” star, Faye Wong, but Khalil Fong’s rendition feels more in tune with a youthful longing.

The composition is reset to compliment Fong’s bright and warm tones while allowing the sadness of the lyrics to remain.

“千千闋歌” by Priscilla Chan

Technically this song is classified as a Cantonese song which is different from Chinese in its speech and sole use of traditional characters, however, I felt this song and the artist still deserved a spot among my favorite Chinese songs and singers.

This late 80s release is such a joy to listen to and when the chorus hits I helplessly begin to groove.

Instrumentally, the song holds the addictive essence of 80s pop rock mixed with strong balladic tunes.

There is a clear distinction in the musicality of this song that is often found in older music that I adore. The dynamics, various string instruments, drums and quick additions of the keyboard and the tambourine make this song so unique.

Chinese classics always hold favor in my mind and ears, and this song in particular sets itself apart.

“Poem (一步成詩)”  by Diana Wang

This song is composed by the aforementioned Khalil Fong and is in fact a banger.

In the Chinese industry, Diana Wong has one of my favorite head voices, and her vocals over this track are so satisfying.

The arrangement uses a mix of traditional influences and has a modern foundation which I think is perfect for Wong’s delicate timbre.

Lyrically, alongside “Red Bean,” I find this song to have the most lyrical appeal. When I first heard it through a cover, I had an English translation available to me and the song expressed a poetic desire for a love that had yet to come to fruition.

“不染- Unsullied” by 毛不易 Mao Buyi

Mao Buyi is such a wonderful talent and I first discovered him while he was a judge on a Chinese variety show called “Produce Camp 2020” where girls competed to be selected for a Chinese girl group. On the show, his honey-like vocals stood out to me and led me to do more research on his music.

“Unsullied” is just one of Mao Buyi’s many original soundtracks (OSTs) for c-dramas and is my favorite OST by him.

I normally like listening to Chinese OSTs with delicate instrumentals since they try to mimic traditional Chinese sounds, but having it paired with Mao Buyi’s voice sends me to the beyond.

“月亮嗲表我的心” The Moon Represents My Heart“ by Teresa Teng

If I never listened to the famous“The Moon Represents My Heart” by Teresa Teng, I never would have fallen in love with older Chinese music.

When I first happened upon this song in middle school, I knew that Teresa held the kind of beauty and elegance in her voice that cannot be found in the common man. She was absolutely unique in her charms.

Her tone carries a towering grace and she uniquely rides over her high notes with ease.

This is one of the Chinese songs that is a must-know when getting into the country’s music.

Erell Williams is a second-year majoring in broadcasting journalism. To contact her, email exw5303@psu.edu.

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Erell Williams

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Erell Williams is a first-year student, and her intended majors are Broadcasting Journalism and Chinese. She grew up in Douglassville, Pennsylvania. She is a member of the CommRadio News and Arts department. To contact her, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).