• KrisMyStar

    Honestly, the mainland Chinese music market is not very idol-friendly. Idol groups, even the ones exclusively produced in China, are not well-known. They are mostly looked upon as immature teens trying to sing rather than doing something more productive with their life, at least that’s the impression I get from visiting Chinese blogs and my own experience living in China. They’re not as respected, though some have broken out of that niche e.g. SHE and Fahrenheit. I think that idol groups produced in Korea are probably more popular because at least they have the attention of kpop fans. 
    For TimeZ, their music is very easy on the ears and definitely more understandable than Exo-M. However, they NEED to get rid of their “rap”….that “rap” sounds like some Chinese children songs that I sang in preschool. I can’t really see them going anywhere in the Chinese music market until they release something more serious and mature than “Hooray for Idols”. 

  • Gaya_SB

    I personally really like the Mandarin lyrics for miss A’s “Breathe.” 

    Having very little knowledge of Mandarin itself, I remain blissfully ignorant of how good or bad C-pop sounds to those who understand the language, and the additional barriers Manadarin presents to music producers was something I vaguely aware of, but didn’t have a proper understanding until now. Thanks Mark!

  • http://twitter.com/smileyushi Yushi Wang

    I really think Miss A has a shot if they actually stay in China do variety shows, and showcases and etc. 4 members is actually a good number for chinese market, there’s honestly not that many groups in China with most of music done by solo artists. EXO and Suju is really an exception since they have such a fan base already, but I think a smaller number will appeal more to the mass audience.  Groups that are notable in china are usually bands (not really groups), I really liked M.I.C. recently, and I know TWINS are really good. Fahrenheit was really popular, except I Wuchun left, and S.H.E. is pretty popular.  If promoting in China can be done well and appeal to mass audience (your grandparents, parents, relatives, aunts uncles, young and old people, both genders) it will really be profitable. 

    • Teacher Eng101

      Funny how Miss A actually debuted in China but f(x) who haven’t started any official activities there is already way more popular than them.

      • Xu MingMing

        I believe that’s because Song Qian is famous. I mean, look at her background. She went to the rather famous Beijing Academy of Dance (which, if my memory serves, is a very prestigious one that produces many celebrity dancers and actors.) and she has yet to really Korean-ize herself. She stays true to herself, she promotes China, maybe not on purpose, but she does show some Chinese Pride.

  • http://twitter.com/catEYEx3 Clairi

    Jolin Tsai and G.E.M are the only Chinese singers I like. Jolin Tsai though is one of the biggest female artists in China for years and she’s still affected by the high piracy there. . .so even if a idol became famous over there the profit would be impacted by that. I still hope miss A succeeds! I think an original song would really help them out.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JSL3RBWW5GFGNB7SX4FDUIC24Y Lucy

      Piracy yes but that doesnt stop her from making 16 million usd by doing nothing but advertisements and some concerts here and there according to forbes

      • http://twitter.com/catEYEx3 Clairi

        I didn’t say she doesn’t make any money, I was just saying it affects even her sometimes. . .I think without piracy MUSE could do even better than it has.

  • http://twitter.com/AnnaDowns2 Anna Downs

    have to say exo-m’s what is love is my favortie chinese k-pop song so far, but although chen kills it the vocals his pronunciation makes me cringe. If you are looking for good chinese pop music and are coming from a kpop background, start with Jolin Tsai! She is pretty much the queen of cpop, and her videos are similar to kpop in that they involve a lot of dancing and focus on visuals

  • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

    You have some facts about SJ-M wrong…? Maybe I read wrong, but I thought you said the original line-up had 6 people 2 Chinese members including Hangeng. Original line-up:

    Hangeng (Chinese)
    Donghae (Korean)
    Siwon (Korean)
    Ryeowook (Korean)
    Kyuhyun (Korean)
    Zhou Mi (Chinese)
    Henry (Canadian-Chinese/Taiwanese)

    After Hangeng left, Eunhyuk and Sungmin (Korean) were added… 

    • http://twitter.com/LulcKathy kat

      Yep, the writer got the SJ-M line-up thing completely wrong, the original line-up already added 2 additional Chinese members Zhoumi and Henry, and 2 Korean members from the SJ line-up were added upon Hangeng’s departure.

      And SJ-M never had 9 members, it just went from 7 to 8, that’s it.

      • SB_Mark

        Thank you for your notifications. I stand corrected. The appropriate edits have been made.

  • http://twitter.com/Chouchou103 Michele

    ‘Super Junior-M was formed by partitioning six members from the main Super Junior lineup. The inclusion of one additional Chinese member, along with Han Geng, made the initial group of seven consist of two Chinese members. After Han Geng’s departure from Super Junior, the addition of a second new Chinese member, and further additions from the main lineup, made the current roster consist of once again two Chinese members in what is now a nine-member group. ‘

    Wait, wait what?? I think you got some stuff mixed up. After Hangeng left they added 2 Korean members (Eunhyuk and Sungmin) and they are not a 9 membered groupe but an 8 membered group. Also in the original lineup, there was 5 members of suju (included Hangeng) and they added 1 chinese member (ZhouMi) and Henry who is Canadian with chinese/taiwanese descent.

    As for TimeZ, I like their song. I tried to imagine how it would sound in korean and yeah… I hope they never release a korean version of the song. The only part that i think could sound correct in korean is the rap part, aside from that the melody is definitely fit for chinese and not korean

  • AcadiasFire

    That video was ah-dorable! Lol I noticed a difference to. The pronunciated very well. It was really cute.

  • http://twitter.com/LulcKathy kat

    I think aside from having solid talent (vocal is VERY important), the other 2 key points to success are on point Chinese pronunciation, and sensible lyrics, which do not include lyrics directly translated from Korean. I don’t understand how these people think they can achieve huge success in China by merely translating Korean lyrics into Chinese, it just doesn’t work, Chinese education has a heavy focus on language art, awkward lyrics will not be overlooked easily. I don’t think I have yet to come across a Chinese remake that has lyrics that flow properly (SJ-M’s U is an exception, but Zhoumi rewrote the lyrics, so that doesn’t really count). And this is why I only listen to the Korean original even when there is a Chinese remake available, the Chinese remakes simply make me cringe from the second hand embarrassment.

  • http://piggy68gal.tumbr.com/ piggy68gal

    I think in the Chinese music industry, one must really be talented to succeed. I believe they usually place more importance on vocals and perhaps rapping (though they are not many rappers…) more than dance. Of course, there are exceptions but not a lot. There are also really few well-known and successful groups, most of them coming from Taiwan (S.H.E., Fahrenheit, Da Mouth) and a few from HK (Twins). I am not so sure about mainland China because their singers are usually focused and based within China. But overall I think it is hard for groups to be able to break into the Chinese market and gain mainstream success–solo singers are just more respected and perhaps taken more seriously. (Bands are another story though, bands like May Day, Sodagreen and F.I.R. are actually really successful and respected in the industry.) Thus if it is already difficult for Chinese (idol?) groups to get recognised, what more Korean idols singing translated Chinese songs? And most of them, excluding Chinese members, may not be that fluent in Mandarin.
    Kpop conpanies should also take note of the lyrics of the Chinese songs. Awkwardly written/translated lyrics are really not pleasant on the ears and makes one cringe on top of the usually poor pronunciation. (As a Chinese I must say it is really difficult to get the pronunciation right for non-native speakers.) I personally think that for Chinese songs, the lyrics make up a really important part of the song and greatly contributes to the overall feel of the song. I have ever disliked Chinese songs not because of their melodies, but because of the shallow and poorly written lyrics. For me, the lyrics matter a little more than the pronunciation. I think miss A’s pronunciation of Mandarin words are really good. Excluding Fei and Jia, I think Suzy and Min are doing pretty well. I listened to their Chinese version of ‘I Don’t Need A Man’ and I could understand almost everything :) But to succeed they probably need original songs and probably slower songs. I think currently a large majority of the fans of Kpop groups promoting in China are originally kpop fans. They’ll need more than that to be able to succeed–the general public who will recognise their music, not only the kpop fans.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JSL3RBWW5GFGNB7SX4FDUIC24Y Lucy

    Lyrics are important and with chinese tones that form the language, lyrics tend to me be more indepth and expressive since less words can describe more sentiments. In kpop lyrics are kinda of meh and not just idol ones, but in cpop, other than Vincent Fang, Ashin from Mayday and Qingfeng from Sodagreen write just amazing lyrics that that’s makes the appeal of the songs so much greater. People in cpop get noticed for fantastic lyrics and lyricists are actually known by name which shows how important lyrics are.

    • whereex

      Qingfeng is sooooooooooooo talented.  probably more talent in one person than in some entire Kpop companies haha.

  • http://www.m-rated.tumblr.com/ Michelle Chin

    it’s hard to sing exo-m’s what is love in karaoke and the lyrics are quite difficult compared to famous chinese hits… so….

    • Xu MingMing

      I feel your pain. Chen’s pronunciation makes me cringe…. and the tongue twisters are no joke.

  • whereex

    I’m a Chinese speaker and I did my undergraduate thesis on the applications of tones in music.  Actually, tones have very little (see:  basically none) affect on lyric comprehension in tonal language music.  The vast majority of understanding comes from context.  Saying that musicians choose lyrics to match the tones of their music is completely false, and I’m not sure where the author is getting this information from.  I think the author might be confusing the idea of tones with pitch– and musical pitch is not a factor in speaking a tonal language. Also, saying that Chinese people prefer slower music for this reason is unfounded… Show Luo, Jolin, Elva, and Jay Chou all release tons of rap and upbeat dance songs and are arguably the most popular singers in Taiwan/the mainland. Overall I’m confused about how the author came to this conclusion about lyrics and Mandarin. I think most Kpop acts in China have poor lyrics and awful pronunciation, but it doesn’t have much to do with Mandarin in itself being a difficult language for composing lyrics and music.

    MVs (as well as everything else on TV in China) are subtitled because modern standard Chinese (Mandarin) is only truly spoken in Beijing.  Most Chinese speak local dialects at home, and older generations may not speak Mandarin at all.

    I think the real reason Kpop groups fail in China lies more with the fact that Chinese people don’t like Korea, look down on Koreans, and succumb to the idol culture much less that other countries in East Asia.  If you look at popular singers in mainland China most of them are rock groups (Mayday, Sodagreen, FIR, Powerstation) or solo singers (Amei, Jay Chou, Leehom Wang, 林俊杰, 孙燕姿).  In my opinion, Kpop’s failing in China is much more cultural that linguistic.

    • KrisMyStar


    • SB_Mark

      I’m glad there’s input from someone who’s studied this. I highly respect your opinion and conclusions. I’m no industry insider but how I came to my conclusions has a lot to do with my background in Canto-pop. I noticed all the artists you listed are Taiwanese and so most of their music is considered Mando-pop. If one has ever compared the lyrics of Canto-pop to Mando-pop, they’ll notice that the word choice is highly different. Whereas the lyrics of Mando-pop uses much more basic vocabulary, those of Canto-pop uses somewhat formal and even archaic diction. I think if you ask anyone that understands Cantonese and is a fan of Canto-pop, they’ll agree that the tone of the lyrics are highly attuned with the tone of the melody. As for Mando-pop, there’s much less rigidity in composing the melody to fit the lyrics or to choose lyrics that fit the melody, but I believe that there is still some consideration. I don’t think that the lyrics and the composition are produced independently without collaboration between the composer and the lyricist, unlike many of the translated K-pop songs that we’re seeing. I’m coming to this conclusion through my own ability to decipher lyrics by simply comparing my level of understanding when listening to a, let’s say, Leehom song or “Hurray for Idols” and comparing it to my level of understanding when listening to the Chinese version of Exo’s “Mama.” 

      I’m not saying that upbeat music and rap doesn’t exist in C-pop. I’m just saying that they are not as popular because of the intelligibility gap. As talented and multi-faceted as Jay Chou is, he’s not known for his amazing rapping because its honestly hard for most people to understand what he’s rapping about. 

      Thank you for clarifying about the use of subtitles. It is true that most people have a local dialect which they use at home but they are also well versed in the national dialect which they use at school and in public. The subtitles are, however, very much necessary for an older generation who in their youth didn’t necessarily receive the opportunity to attend school.

      I agree that K-pop’s lack of success in China is definitely culture-related, but at the same time I want to acknowledge that there is a linguistic element that should also be considered. Again, I don’t claim to be an expert so if there’s anything I’m neglecting then please enlighten me and the rest of the readers. Thank you.

      • whereex

        Sorry if my interpretation of the article was incorrect; I assumed we were talking about Mandarin language music since, as far as I know, Kpop acts tend. to exclusively sing in Mandarin.

        Again, I think there’s a little confusion between the terms tone and pitch.  In a tonal language, tones are the relative rising and falling of individual words in relation to other words that the speaker is saying.  So, during musical performances most tonal languages downplay how distinctly their pronounce tones– however, the lyrics are still easily interpretable by native speakers.  It’s really very similar to how lyrics in English have to be processed in context.. so the phrase:  “WHY!!!  WOULD YOU EVER!  Leave.” sung with that intonation would still be heard as “Why would you ever leave?” by a native English speaker without much difficultly.  Rapping is difficult to understand in Chinese because, well, it’s fast.

        Most Chinese speakers aren’t even aware that their language is tonal/don’t specifically know which tones they’re saying when they speak (for anyone studying Chinese, go up to a Chinese person and ask them to annotate the tones of a sentence and… yeah.  You’ll see what I mean).  Being native speakers, they naturally adjust their intonation so that lyrics are decipherable when they sing.

        “Mama” sucks not because of the tones but because they pronounce everything wrong.  Zai become jai, zhou becomes joe, shi-jie becomes shi-jee… it just sounds really bizarre.

        Also, I agree with other posters about how much more value is placed on lyrics in Chinese music.  Vincent Fang is well known even though he’s only a lyricist.  Wu Qingfeng (I might be making this up, but pretty sure I heard it somewhere) studied Chinese literature at one of the top universities in Taiwan.  Most bands write an compose their own lyrics, or have other singers write them.  Honestly, Chinese musicians are just immensely talented.  Amei has a greater vocal range than most opera singers.  Qingfeng is a singer, instrumentalist, writer, and composer… and is hella prolific, didn’t Sodagreen release like 3 full albums in one year while QF was also writing songs for Rainie Yang and Amei?  I think Jay Chou plays like 5 instruments.  Doesn’t Wang Leehom play something like 18?

        Kpop isn’t popular in the mainland or Taiwan with anyone over age 16.  Even in the teen and tween age, I hear about kids being bullied for liking Korean music.  Chinese even has a term 韩狗 (Korean dog) that they like to use to talk about people who like Korean music.  SJ-M was relatively popular when I was living in the mainland, but most people liked Hangeng more than SJM itself.  I think Kpop has a ways to go before it gets really accepted in the Chinese market.

        • SB_Mark

          As long as we both agree that the Chinese version of “Mama” sounds horrible, then we’re really just barking up the same tree.

  • ze y

    This article and the comments have made me want to get to know cpop more. With that being said, I’m a total beginner. I only know JJ Lin, Jay Chao, and S.H.E. I like how people are saying that lyrics matters and there’s a deeper meaning to songs. Does anyone know any website that has some kind of introductory list?

    • Xu MingMing

      On youtube there are several people that upload a top 10-20 of the popular Chinese songs. And if you think you can handle the headache, yinyuntai (I think that’s the name?) is a Taiwanese version of youtube/iTunes and it has a LOT of Chinese popular music on it. My advice, DEFINITLY moosey on over to check out William Wei, Anthony Neely, Jolin Tsai and……… there’s one more artist that just slipped my mind ( I want to say hebe tien but I’m not really sure….) But anyway, those three are all amazing. Jolin Tsai is more bubble pop/dance music whereas Anthony Neely is all over the place, William Wei…. well most of his stuff that I’ve heard is ballady…. And Sandee Chan is pretty good too. Her song Low-key life is A-MAZING. If you want a subbing channel I would wonder over to rockthecpop on youtube. They’ve done a variety of songs by a whole slew of artists.

  • yuki kokoro

    “After Han Geng‘s departure from Super Junior, the addition of two more members from the main lineup made the current roster consist of three Chinese members in what is now an eight-member group”

    That’s not true. They only have 2 Chinese members.