C-Pop artist Lay Zhang

Move Over K-Pop & J-Pop, C-Pop Is On The Rise

This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)

By now, the world already knows about K-Pop and J-Pop. K-Pop groups such as BTS, Blackpink, and EXO have been topping the international charts for years, while J-Pop musical acts like Scandal, Perfume, and Arashi all have devoted fanbases. What many might not have heard much about – until recently – is C-Pop. C-Pop is on the rise, and it seems to be here to stay!

What is C-Pop, Anyway?

While “K-Pop” and “J-Pop” stands for Korean and Japanese pop music, respectively, C-Pop is actually an abbreviation for “Chinese popular music”. Rather than being specifically pop music, C-Pop is an umbrella term that covers Chinese pop, R&B, rock, hip hop, ambient, and ballad music.

A large majority of C-Pop artists come from mainland China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. However, a few artists also originate from neighboring Chinese-speaking countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore.

The truth is, the reason we don’t see C-Pop groups and artists touring around the world and topping the US charts is because China simply doesn’t have a real financial need to push C-Pop on a global scale. Boasting the world’s second-largest economy and the largest population, China has an entertainment industry that is impressively self-sustaining, which takes away the need to serve music to other countries.

However, that doesn’t stop the pleasingly infectious C-Pop from bleeding over into other countries. In fact, C-Pop music is becoming increasingly popular in other countries around the world, especially the United States. To help you get up to speed on what C-Pop is all about, let’s take a look at seven of the best C-pop artists to check out. Enjoy!

Top 7 C-Pop Artists For You To Check Out

#1: Jay Chou

A Taiwanese musician, Jay Chou is also an instrumentalist, actor, and director. His music career began with the release of his first debut album in 2000, which was simply titled Jay. Since hitting the scene, Jay Chou has gained a very large fanbase that covers much of Asia, especially in Taiwan, China, Singapore, and Hong Kong. His latest album is titled Bedtime Stories and was released in 2016. Chou’s music is a mix of Chinese and Western music styles and blends R&B, pop, and rock together perfectly. Check out his most recent music video for the single “Won’t Cry”.

Instagram:  @jaychou
Facebook:  Jay Chou

#2: JJ Lin

Wayne Lim, commonly known by his stage name JJ Lin, is a well-respected singer, songwriter, and music composer in the Chinese music industry. After releasing a self-composed song titled Jiang Nan in 2004, his music career quickly took off, and he eventually became famous in China and Taiwan. As an artist who almost always self-composes his music, he has developed a unique style that is heavily R&B and hip-hop inspired but holds true to Chinese music culture. His most recent single, “The Right Time,” was just released and is worth the listen.

Instagram:  @jjlin
Facebook:  JJ Lin
Twitter:  @JJ_Lin

#3: S.H.E

A girl group formed in 2001, S.H.E consists of members Selina Jen, Hebe Tian, and Ella Chen. This powerful C-Pop group has been very influential in the industry. In fact, since releasing their first album in 2001, the group has gone on to record 10 albums (and counting) with gross sales totaling well over 4.5 million. On top of that, the group has an impressive resume of acting, hosting shows, endorsing international companies, and more. Rather than having just one flavor of music, S.H.E has recorded songs that fall into several genres, and range from upbeat and fun to slow and smooth. Their latest single was released last year, and no information is yet available of future releases.

Facebook:  S.H.E

#4: Fish Leong

Fish Leong is a C-Pop singer who has amassed much success and popularity in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and even Japan. Although she had a rough start, with her first album performing rather poorly, Fish Leong managed to catapult herself into fame with the release of her second album titled Yong Qi. Fish just released her newest album earlier this year, titled Wo Hao Ma? – Tai Yang Ru Chang Sheng Qi, which is receiving great reviews and feedback from her fans. Fish’s music is rather soothing and melodic, and she is best known for producing love-themed ballads.

Instagram:  @fishleong616
Facebook:  Fish Leong Music

#5: F.I.R.

Of Taiwanese origins, F.I.R. is a popular C-Pop group that stands out from the rest. The group consists of producer Ian Chen, and two other members (Faye and Real), who came onto the scene with their hit single “Lydia,” which was actually the theme song for a popular Taiwanese TV show, The Outsiders. Since gaining popularity from this single, F.I.R. has gained a great following in the C-Pop world, with their first debut album released in 2004. Their newest release is a hit single titled “Forever Young,” which was released only a few days ago.

Facebook:  F.I.R.

#6: Mayday

Mayday, formerly known as the So Band, is a C-Pop band that has been around for quite some time. Originally formed in the late 1990s, Mayday has since released a number of hit songs that have earned them a reputation as one of the greats in the C-Pop industry. In fact, they have been famously dubbed as the “Chinese Beatles” in the press for years. Naturally, Mayda’s music can be classified as rock music, with that timeless “garage band” nostalgic feel.

Instagram:  @imayday55555
Facebook:  Mayday
Twitter:  @Mayday_EN

#7: Lay Zhang

Born Zhang Yixing but known by his stage name, Lay Zhang is a C-Pop artist, record producer, actor, and dancer with an impressive resume. Although he is Chinese, he is a member of the famed Korean boy group Exo, who holds the title as one of the most popular K-Pop groups at this time. However, that hasn’t stopped him from releasing his own individual music. Starting with the release of his EP, Lose Control, in 2016, which debuted in South Korea and China, he has now established himself as both member of one of the most famous K-Pop groups as well as one of the most famous C-Pop artists to date. His latest release is a very melodic and catchy song titled “Honey.”

Instagram: @zyxzjs
Facebook: Lay Zhang
Twitter: @layzhang

Who’s Your Pick?

You’ve just experienced a brief but full-scope taste of what C-Pop is all about. As you can see, C-Pop is not simply pop music. Sure, some artists adopt pop sounds, but you can also expect to hear hints of R&B, hip-hop, jazz, ballad, and rock in the mix as well. No matter what your music preference is, there is sure to be at least one C-Pop artist to match your flavor. There is a whole world of C-Pop to keep discovering, and we hope that this introduction leaves you excited for more!

This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)

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Peter Manley

Peter Manley is a freelance journalist and contributor to Trend & Chaos