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’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?