Jolin Tsai’s Debut London Concert Continues C-Pop Invasion

Jolin Tsai on stage in concert during her stop in London for her Myself World Tour.

I first heard Jolin Tsai‘s music back in 2003 when I was still a middle school student. The catchy pop tunes and sweet lyrics won my teenage heart just as they won many other young fans all over China. As I grew up however I moved on from that teenybopper phase, seldom buying Jolin’s records or following her career. Then a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to lwin a pair of free tickets for Jolin’s debut concert in London thanks to chinaSMACK!

I felt a rush of nostalgia and also sudden curiosity to see what Jolin was doing now and how her style would fit in the UK. I was quite curious to see how many Londoners would show up and whether their reaction to Chinese pop music would be favorable.

I met the other winner of the competition at Wembley Arena on October 21st – both of us excited about this ‘blast from the past.’

So how was Jolin?

Well, Jolin Tsai overcame a shaky start, looking nervous in front of a packed stadium that featured not only Chinese faces but a surprising number of local faces also. A group of five English people were sitting close by me. They told me they had got free tickets and were happy to see something different. But not all the Londoners in attendance were charmed by one of Taiwan’s most popular female singers. Several people walked out less than half-way through the concert unimpressed or perhaps unable to understand the Mandarin lyrics.

They should have stayed however because after a few songs, Jolin stopped the music and addressed the audience to try and turn things around: “Don’t just sit there and be quiet all the time. Maybe the English stewards ask you to do so? I hope my fans can sing the songs together with me and dance! Let’s make it more like a party!” The only problem with this was that Jolin did not bother to translate her words into English. Still, about 90% of the crowd went crazy anyway.

Jolin Tsai in concert during her stop in London for her Myself World Tour.

Jolin’s appearance in London is part of a growing trend for so-called Mando-pop stars to stop over at the British capital. 2012 has seen an invasion of Chinese pop stars with both Eason Chan and A-Mei recently playing the 20,000 seat O2 Arena, while Mayday took over Wembley Arena and Joey Yung filled the Royal Albert Hall. Coming soon will be Fish Leong and Jam Hsiao. I wonder if they will be able to win over European fans or whether they will mainly entertain Chinese faces only. Will there be more free tickets for Londoners and will they stay for the whole concert next time?

And perhaps the big question now is: when will a Chinese pop star match the achievement of Korean singer PSY and have a huge cross-over hit like ‘Gangnam Style? Can the trend for musical influence flow from East to West in the future?

Jolin Tsai in concert during her stop in London for her Myself World Tour.

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  • Parker

    OMG… Jolin in the house

    • Cherry

      DT is not here LOL

  • Fox

    nice indeed!

  • NotAnInvasion

    For it to be a C-pop invasion, then the vast majority of fans in attendance would have to be born and raised in England. i.e. The British Invasion of America, where American fans went absolutely nuts over any British Band who came to America.
    It is not a C-pop Invasion if most of the fans are Chinese, it’s just a concert. Sorry to nitpick.

    • J

      Well said. These singers are only in the region to entertain their fans. There is no evidence of a C-pop invasion and I doubt it will ever happen .

    • hi karate

      there are loads of chinese pop acts coming to uk now… and not just chinese in audience — invasion!!!

      • NotAnInvasion

        Fans are not mobbing their planes when they arrive, there is not one Chinese star on any music chart, and they are not changing the landscape of British music. Besides, Chinese pop is just a mixture of recycled Lionel Richie, Celine Dion, Kenny G, with some boyband, and occasionally a weak R&B beat pilfered from an old Boyz 2 Men song. Again, NOT AN INVASION!

        • Trouse

          hey you forgot michael jackson and the one who sing god is a girl…woooh so freaky…

  • Kate

    Unless she is going to sing in English, I doubt most english speakers will care about her. Not understanding a song gets old which is why they had people walking out.

    • kmgtexas

      I can’t get over how many english speaking people love the fact that english language music is appreciated even where english is not the native language. But act offended if they are subjected to listening to music in another language. Give it a fair try.

      I’m American but spent 10 years working in countries in Europe/Asia and I listened to what was on the radio. Over time I developed a love for music in other languages. I would say that now I listen to 80% non-English and only 20% English.

      Some languages are more melodious than English anyway. I’m not bothered by not understanding the lyrics because most are silly anyway (he loves you ya, ya, ya…he loves you ya, ya, ya). And there are a lot of English songs with lovely melodies which I won’t listen to because the lyrics are distractingly awful. So in that way, foreign languages are easier to enjoy.

  • Wang Leehom is playing the O2 Arena on 15 April 2013! And Christine Fan (Fanfan) in March so there are definitely more C-pop stars on their way!

  • jiop

    Even if C-pop stars sang in English, I doubt they would be popular outside of Asia. Asian pop just does not bring anything new to the table (i.e. no new/unique rhythms or sounds). Pretty Asian faces with mediocre voices singing to manufactured pop tunes just will not sell globally–especially since no Asian country enjoys the level of political/economic/social influence that the US does as a superpower.

    Second, Gangnam Style is a hit outside of Asia only because people see the video and say, “WTF?!” This is another case of, “Look at how weird the Asians are. We don’t get what they are doing, but it’s hilarious.” Laughing at you is not the same as laughing with you! Is this really the kind of popularity that you all want?

    • Trouse

      I won’t have to brag…but don’t mentioned Asia as a whole…Charice is an o Asian, Arnel Penida singer of Journey and some other Filipino singers in the US, Eu & other part of the world are Asian. By the way, the recent, 2013 World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) just to let you know are dominated by Filipinos so don’t mention Asia as a whole….China perhaps yes, they can’t be, they are only good at kungfu.

    • Guest

      yeah but gangnam style managed to reach no.1 in 33 countries and peaked at no.2 on the billboard charts. It was the biggest global selling single in 2012. Is that just a joke?

    • kmgtexas

      That comment is very arrogant and its not reflective of all opinions and, hopefully, not the majority opinion.

      I enjoy music from all over the world. The fact that I don’t understand all of the languages doesn’t detract from the beauty of the human voice as a musical instrument. A lot of lyrics in all languages are pretty nonsensical anyway and the music is more enjoyable NOT understanding the words. Some of the prettiest music in the world comes from the orient. I love a lot of Jolin’s music and would love for her to come to Dallas. When I hear lovely music such as Jolin, Sun Yanzi and A-mei, I don’t give a single thought to how much political/socioeconomic influence their countries have.

  • Leo

    Just recently stumbled this and so hilarious to find me and my friend in the background of one the pictures.

  • Trouse

    you wish…my cat sings better than any chinky singer…haha

    • SzMach5

      Uhh… it’s not that they can’t sing well (the opposite really); it’s that the genre they sing is always sappy love songs that barely interest any youngsters these days.

  • jon9521

    C J K Pop -its all too plastic for western tastes

  • Vern Fonk

    Not C-Pop….. more like C-Rap.

  • Big Willy

    The Chinese language simply sounds unpleasant to non-Chinese ears, and I doubt that will change any time soon.

    • SzMach5

      That’s not true, doesn’t sound unpleasant to me. Most of the time it really depends on the speaker however.

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