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Taiwanese pop

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Taiwanese pop

Taiwanese pop (simplified Chinese: 台语流行音乐; traditional Chinese: 台語流行音樂; pinyin: Táiyǔ Liúxíng Yīnyuè; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tâi-gí liû-hêng im-ga̍k) is a popular music genre sung in the Taiwanese Hokkien and produced mainly in Taiwan (Republic of China). It is referred to as "Tai-pop" and suffered a setback during the years of martial law in Taiwan. Upon the lifting of martial law in Taiwan in 1987, numerous artists began to produce Taiwanese song tracks and entire albums in Taiwanese. Tai-pop, although cultivated in Taiwan, is also popular amongst Hoklo people in Xiamen, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand and Indonesia where it is often referred to as Hokkien/Fukienese pop music.


Cantonese, Mandarin and Taiwanese (Hokkien) all derive from the Sino-Tibetan languages family. However, the historical origin of Taiwanese pop comes from a Japanese enka base instead of a Chinese shidaiqu base.[1] [2] Music of this category are sometimes called "Aboriginal Taiwanese pop" to distinguish it from Mandarin pop music (Mandopop) in Taiwan.[3] Also, because it developing from traditional Japanese enka, it is become complicated with its varieties.



Under Japanese rule (1895-1945), Taiwanese music continued from previous period and developed its new form. By the 1930s, vinyl records of traditional music, such as Taiwanese opera, Peking opera, Nanguan, and Beiguan were popular.

A new business model of popular music industry began, when Kashiwano Seijiro, who led the Taiwan branch of Columbia Record Company, began to market their records in new ways, such as marketing songs with the promotion of silent movies. Kashiwano also recruited and made popular musical talents such as Teng Yu-hsien, Yao Tsan-fu (姚讚福), Su Tung (蘇桐), Lee Lim-chhiu, Sun-sun and others. They produced important titles such as Bāng Chhun-hong (Longing for the Spring Breeze) and Ú-iā-hoe (雨夜花; Rainy Night Flower). Equally competitive was the Taiwan branch of Victor Records, delegated by the influential Lin Ben Yuan Family, and headed by Chang Fu-hsing. With talents such as Chen Ta-ju (陳達儒), Victor produced important titles such as White Peony (白牡丹).

This new business was led by a new generation born under Japanese rule. They received Japanese modern education, and were exposed to western musical styles and ideas. Some were active in the new music because of their interest in politics, in resistance against Japanese and in support of native culture.

However Taiwanese pop was soon set back. As Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, non-Japanese songs were banned, and talents were required to write songs (and change previous songs) for military propaganda. The situation worsened in 1941 when the Pacific War broke out. US bombings of Taiwan (called Formosa at the time), poverty and shortage of raw materials hit the business hard, and many talents were drafted away. This period ends with the end of World War II and handover of Taiwan to the Republic of China in 1945.[1]

1950s: Political interference

Taiwan's period of White Terror began after the 228 Incident of 1947 and declaration of martial law in 1949. The Kuomintang had lost the Chinese Civil War and proclaimed Taipei as the temporary capital of the Republic of China. All facets of Taiwanese culture that were not of Han Chinese origin were under scrutiny. In particular, the government discouraged use of Taiwanese languages[1] (see here). As a result, native Taiwanese pop music was no longer in development.

1960s: Censorship

In the 1960s, Taiwan Television station for example could air no more than 2 Taiwanese pop songs a day.[1]

1980s: Lifting of martial law

The Republic of China would lift martial law in 1987 and allow native Taiwanese culture to reintegrate into society. When Taiwanese music was no longer restricted, the gap between old enka-style Taiwanese pop and modern 1980s mandopop songs was tremendous. Because of this, Taiwanese pop was thought of as music for the older generations.[1][2] This is unusual since popular music is almost globally associated with youth.

Blacklist Studio would release the first native Taiwanese album in a mandopop-dominant market in 1989.

One famous male singer from the 1980s is Jung Hung (洪榮宏) who is famous for his Taiwanese "One Umbrella" song (一枝小雨傘) and also produces Taiwanese Christian song albums too. Another famous male singer from the 1990s is Chen Lei, who made a number of famous songs such as "Hua Hee Tio Ho"(歡喜就好).

Feng Fei-Fei (鳳飛飛) is a famous Taiwanese singer from the 1970s who is a Mandarin pop singer, but also has albums in Taiwanese too.

Jody Chiang (江蕙) is Taiwan's most famous singer and is often referred to as the Queen of Taiwanese pop music. She has many albums and compilations that date from the 1980s to the present. She can be referred to as the Taiwanese equivalent of Teresa Teng (below).

Stella Chang (張清芳) has produced albums entirely in Mandarin and entirely Taiwanese. She made her debut singing Taiwan's min-ge (民歌; National, ROC) songs and is a Mandarin pop singer, but branched out into contemporary Mandarin and Taiwanese songs to reflect her heritage.

Teresa Teng (鄧麗君), although of mainland Chinese heritage, is also known to have songs in Taiwanese. Unfortunately, these songs have not made it to CDs like her Japanese, Mandarin, and Cantonese songs have. Although Teresa Teng is better known for her Mandarin albums, her songs were also influenced by Japanese Enka style and by older Taiwan min-ge songs.

Chen Ying-Git (陳盈潔), is a famous female singer of Taiwanese Hakka heritage, who has also produced albums from the 1980s through the 1990s like Jody Chiang. One of her famous songs is 海海人生. She sings a famous duet called 酒醉黑白話 with Taiwanese male singer 余天 (he also sings in Mandarin as well).

Other famous Taiwanese singers include CHANG Hsiu Ching (張秀卿) from Pingtung, Taiwan, who is famous in the early 1990s for her song "Chhia-chām" (車站; Train Station).

1990s: Reintegration

In 1990, Lim Giong launched the first successful Taiwanese album under Rock Records. It also broke away the tradition by having a new-ballad style instead of the old-enka style.[2]

In 1993, Taiwan's government opened up the broadcasting of TV or radio programs to languages other than Mandarin.[4]

In the mid-1990s, Taiwan became the centre of one of the largest music industries in Asia. The country was the second largest music industry in Asia, in 1998 and 1999, after Japan, before falling to fourth in 2002 due to piracy. Piracy has caused domestic repertoire as a proportion of the market to fall to 50%, in 2001, from an all-time high of around 70%, in the 1990s.[5] Sales of recorded music in Taiwan peaked in 1997, when sales reached US$442.3 million, but by 2008, revenue declined sharply to US$51 million, with piracy and illegal downloads to blame. Foreign songs began to dominate local repertoire for the first time in the mid-2000s, as they did in Hong Kong and Mainland China.[6]



Recently, native Taiwanese pop have been re-integrating into C-pop. A-mei would be labeled an Asian hero worldwide for promoting cross-strait pop music representing aboriginal Taiwanese pop with Mandopop success. Her popularity however was criticized by the Communist Party of China for promoting any sort of Taiwan independence.[7]

The most popular Taiwanese female singer to date is Jody Chiang, who has numerous Taiwanese albums dating from the early 1980s. Another famous singer in Taiwan also known for her ballads is Chen Ying-Git (陳盈潔).

Current Taiwanese pop music is becoming more influenced by Mandarin pop and include a wide variety of styles including rock, hip-hop, rap etc. Artists such as Wu Bai, Phil Chang, Jolin Tsai, Eric Moo, Show Luo Mayday and Jay Chou are known to have Taiwanese songs in their albums. Recently, the rising popularity of the Taiwanese Pop diva Jeannie Hsieh has put Taiwanese Pop to a new level with her dance songs which are very different from the traditional Taiwanese Pop ballad sad songs. Also, Taiwanese black metal band Chthonic has risen to international prominence due to their nationalistic, anti-Chinese music.

Certification levels

In August 1996, IFPI Taiwan (now Recording Industry Foundation in Taiwan) introduced gold and platinum awards for music recordings in Taiwan, along with the IFPI Taiwan Chart, which was suspended in September 1999.

The sales requirements for music recordings of domestic, international repertoire and singles differ. In Taiwan, sales of domestic repertoire are higher than international repertoire and singles. Note that music recording certificate in Taiwan is awarded based on shipments.[8]

Albums (unit sales required)
Certification Before March 2002 Before January 2006 Before November 2007 Before January 2009 Since 1 January 2009[9]
Gold 100,000 50,000 35,000 20,000 15,000
Platinum 200,000 100,000 70,000 40,000 30,000
Singles (unit sales required)
Certification Since 1 January 2009)[9]
Gold 5,000
Platinum 10,000


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Tsai Wen-ting/photos courtesy of Cheng Heng-lung/tr. by Glenn Smith and David Mayer. (May 2002). "Taiwanese Pop Will Never Die". Taiwan Panorama.  Also see this website for the same article with photos: Vincent Tzeng. "Taiwanese Pop Songs History". 
  2. ^ a b c Broughton, Simon. Ellingham, Mark. Trillo, Richard. [2000] (2000) World Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides Publishing Company. ISBN 1-85828-636-0
  3. ^ Time Magazine. " Time Magazine." Asian Heroes: Both sides now. Retrieved on 2007-05-02.
  4. ^ Reed, Barbara Edith. Davison, Gary Marvin. [1998] (1998). Culture and Customs of Taiwan. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30298-7
  5. ^ "International recording industry discusses anti-piracy actions with Taiwan government". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. 2002-10-17. Retrieved 2011-05-29. 
  6. ^ "Omusic launches online music store to revitalise Taiwan's music industry". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. 2011-02-23. Retrieved 2011-05-29. 
  7. ^ News BBC. " News BBC." China bans Taiwans Madonna. Retrieved on 2007-05-03.
  8. ^ "RIT (IFPI TAIWAN) 白金 (金) 唱片簡介" [RIT (IFPI TAIWAN) platinum (gold) LP Profile] (in Chinese). Recording Industry Foundation in Taiwan. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  9. ^ a b International Award Levels September 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-16

External links

  • - Social Network for Asian Pop Fans
  • History of Taiwanese pop
  • msnbc taiwan history
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