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Hong Kong English pop

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Subject: Kenny Bee, Pop music, Roman and the Four Steps, Sita Chan, Samuel Hui
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Hong Kong English pop

Hong Kong English pop (Chinese: 英文歌) are English language songs that are made, performed and popularised in Hong Kong. Known as simply English pop by Hong Kong people. The height of the English pop era in Hong Kong was from the 1950s to mid 1970s.[1]


As English was the only official language from 1843 to 1974 in Hong Kong, it was spoken widely, especially in formal context, by Hongkongers in the 20th century.[2] As a result, pop songs performed in English language were very popular among both ethnic Chinese and British Hong Kong citizens.


Many of the bandleaders and musicians were Filipinos. Lobing Samson, who led the house band at Ciro's for many years, later made his way to Hong Kong as did Fred Carpio, Vic Cristobal and many others.[1]


In 1951, Frankie Laine recorded "Rose, Rose, I Love You" in Hong Kong, which is an English version of the popular Chinese song Mei gui mei gui wo ai ni composed by Chen Gexin (陳歌辛), and first recorded by Yao Lee in Shanghai 1940s.[1] In 1959 Tsai Chin recorded an English version of Yao Min's "The Second Spring", which featured in the London stage musical The World of Suzie Wong.[1]


Imported pop music in English language from the West such as Anders Nelsson and lead guitarist Roy Davenport, composed I Still Love You and I Think of Her, respectively, and the songs were chart-topping hits on the indie Orbit Records label owned by British jazz singer Gery Scott.

Prior to this most English-language recordings in the British Colony had been so-called cover versions and with a few exceptions this trend continued in the 60s. Nelsson continued as a singer songwriter with subsequent bands on the Diamond Music label and hits included Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Missing You and How Do You Do. Nelsson later resurfaced in the early 70s with a band called Ming which recorded mostly his own compositions, including Reasons Why, Never Coming Home and U 'n I. After the band broke up in 1976 Nelsson joined the label as a producer, eventually working his way up to A&R Manager. He left three years later to start his own company which managed and produced artists such as Louie Castro and Rowena Cortes, recording both in English and Cantonese. Teddy Robin and his band Teddy Robin and the Playboys (biggest hits Lies and You Can't Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree), Joe Junior with his band The Side-Effects (biggest hits Here's A Heart, Letter To Susan) and Irene Ryder were some of the successful artistes. They mostly came to fame in the latter half of the 60s. DJ 'Uncle' Ray Cordeiro of local government station RTHK's Radio 3 English-language service is credited with heavily promoting and nurturing Hong Kong's English-language pop scene, and the same station's Chinese channels also featured a programme called 'Listen to song, learn English', which also enhanced the popularity of the genre. Such programmes have been credited with being one of the reasons for a high standard of spoken English in the 60s and 70s in Hong Kong.

Other Hong Kong English Pop artistes include Judi Jim (詹小屏), D'Topnotes- 3 of their members include lead singer and bass player Christine Samson, drummer Michael Samson, singer Vikki Samson are the children of bandleader Lobing Samson, Michael Remedios and The Mystics, Danny Diaz & The Checkmates. Based in hotels and ballrooms, HK nightclubs featured both Filipino and Chinese dance bands often fronted by local female singers. At the upper end of the market, Rebecca Pan, Mona Fong (方逸華) and Kiang Ling (江玲) became well known for their mixed Mandarin and English repertoires.[1] Diamond Records also became an independent HK label established in 1960, issuing albums in Mandarin and English originals.[1] Pathé Records (Hong Kong) followed suit with a series of albums on the Columbia and Pathé labels by Chang Loo (張露), Betty Chung (鐘玲玲), Billie Tam (蓓蕾), Judy Jim (詹小屏) and Irene Ryder. And in 1968, Paul Leung (梁寶耳) produced one of the more remarkable bilingual albums of the 1960s.[1]

Other bands include Giancarlo and his Italian Combo, The Corsairs, The Reynettes and The Fabulous Echoes, Mystics, the Zoundcrackers, the Downbeats, and the Side Effects, Mod East, Sons of Han, The Menace, Anders Nelsson, the Inspirations, The Menace and Joe Chen, The Black Jacks, The Quests (Mr. Rainbow) as well as folk songs by artists including Buddy Wong, the Willows, the Nautics, the Swinging Monstrels, the Young Men, the Gabriels.[1] and The Thunderbirds.[4][5]


Imported pop music in English language from the West remained very popular in the territory.[3] Locally, Wynners, Roman and the Four Steps, Rowena Cortes, Teresa Carpio, Frances Yip, Albert Au, Chelsia Chan, Agnes Chan, Chopstick Sisters with Sandra Lang and Lotus featuring Samuel Hui and Ming, a band formed by Anders Nelsson and recording his compositions, were some of the notable examples. Other artistes who performed in English include Maria Cordero, Gracie Rivera, etc.

A Midsummer Night Festival concert at City Hall featured a mixed line-up of English and Mandarin acts, with tickets ranging from HK$10–20 featuring Mike Remedios, The Ripples, Chin Wai (秦淮), Joe Chen (陳任), William Chan (陳威廉), Peter Chan (陳浩德), Ko Siu-Hung (高小紅), Paula Tsui, Elaine Sun (孫泳恩), Stella Chee (奚秀蘭), Fung Wai-tong (馮偉棠), Shu Ya Chung (舒雅頌), Derek Cheng (張皓暉), Pau Lap (鮑立), Annie Chung (鍾安妮), Jennie Chung (鍾珍妮), all accompanied by Celso Cristobal and His Jacks.[1] As we all know, many of these stars were extremely famous throughout Asian history. Good examples would be Annie Chung (鍾安妮),and Jennie Chung (鍾珍妮). This sister duet- also known as Chung Sisters, have made significance to TVB and EYT, as we saw them on TV every night.


The rise of Cantopop attracted some of the aforementioned artistes or band members moved to/went solo in Cantopop in 1980s, such as Rowena Cortes, Kenny Bee and Alan Tam of The Wynners, Roman Tam of Roman and the Four Steps. Beyond, formed in 1983 and later achieved decades long unparalleled success in Hong Kong, released some of their early works in English, such as their "Longway without a Friend" and "Myth". The Citybeat was formed in the 80s and achieved brief moderate success before moving to Cantopop.


Today, pop music in English language remains popular among Hongkongers, second only to C-pop. While most Hong Kong artists now sing primarily in Cantonese, it is still very common for Hong Kong artists to include English tracks in their albums. Some artists produces more English works than others, artists who produced substantial works in English include Wakin Chau, Chet Lam, Janice Vidal, The Pancakes, Ghost Style, etc.

Faye Wong released the English language single Eyes on Me in Japan and later North America[6] as the theme song of Final Fantasy VIII which received globe exposure and critical acclaim. Jacky Cheung released English album Touch of Love in 2000. Teresa Carpio collaborated with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in 2003 and performed series of concerts and released a double disk English album.

Other artists who are fluent in English include Janice Vidal, Jill Vidal, Karen Joy Morris, Astor Fong, Susan Wong, Fiona Sit, Edison Chen, Justin Lo, Kary Ng, Stephanie Cheng, Bernice Liu, Julio Acconci and Dino Acconci of Soler.

On the other hand, there has been a revival of the use of the language among indie bands and alternative musicians, English has once again become the language of choice among bands such as Innisfallen, Hard Candy, 22 Cats, My Little Airport, Audiotraffic, etc.[1]

There is a surge in popularity with Hong Kong singers releasing audiophile CDs in English. The popular audiophile singers include Susan Wong, Michael Wong, Anders Nelsson and Mimi Lo. These audiophile CDs are mostly cover version of Jazz numbers or easy listening. Concerts and club gigs featuring Anders Nelsson, Teresa Carpio, Joe Junior and other singers from the 60s and 70s performing in English have been well attended. Some of these performances have been nostalgia concerts featuring hits from those decades but the trend is towards adding jazz and swing standards and rearranged versions of old hits to reflect the international popularity of light jazz.

The most recent of Hong Kong's English Pop Stars to rise to fandom is rapper and Hong Kong local Lucas Scibetta, oft referred to by his copatriots and fellow gangbangers as "SkiBs the Kid". His rise to fame followed the release of his hit single Hong Kong Kids,[7] a beat-heavy anthem calling the children of Hong Kong to unite and "give it up" because they "don't give a f*ck".[8][9] The video was viewed 35,000 times within the first fortnight of its release,[7] and shortly thereafter anglophone Scibetta amassed a cult following of minors and teenage girls[10] who strongly believed in Scibetta's message of world peace and economic prosperity in times of hardship.[8] The Hong Kong Kids music video received a fair share of controversy,[10] several commentators upset about producer (and Hong Kong native) Barton Chan's (stagename DXL) lack of proper garments throughout the entirety of the video.[11] The true meaning behind the lyrics of the song have been hotly debated by locals and foreigners alike; many have suggested that his lyrics allude to the plight of the common man, while others say that such interpretation bears too deep into the lyrics, which they believe are simply about drug abuse and reckless conduct.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hong Kong Institute of Education. "HKIedu." Article. Retrieved on 25 June 2008.
  2. ^ Chan Yuen-Ying (2000) The English-language media in Hong Kong World Englishes 19 (3) , 323–335 doi:10.1111/1467-971X.00182, Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong
  3. ^ a b Broughton, Simon. Ellingham, Mark. Trillo, Richard. [2000] (2000) World Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides Publishing Company. ISBN 1-85828-636-0
  4. ^ Web UK Online, Bruce Lee Articles In The Shadow Of A Legend – Robert Lee Remembers Bruce Lee by Steve Rubinstein
  5. ^ Trans World 60's Punk Hong Kong 60s Re-capture
  6. ^ Maeda, Yoshitake (1999). Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack (Limited Edition). DigiCube.
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^
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