The Great Rewind To The 2000s: Jay Chou's Debut, the Rise of S.H.E & the Birth of Mandopop's Classics

The Great Rewind To The 2000s: Jay Chou's Debut, the Rise of S.H.E & the Birth of Mandopop's Classics
KKBOX Editor
KKBOX Editor

The year of 2000 can be said to be the heyday of Mando-pop. Nine of the top 20 best-selling albums in the 21st century came from that year alone, including Stefanie Sun’s My Desired Happiness, Mayday’s Viva Love, Jay Chou’s self-titled debut and Jolin Tsai’s Don’t Stop.

Despite weaker album sales and more rampant online piracy no thanks to the introduction of MP3s back then, the music industry pulled together to herald a new dawn for Mando-pop. Here’s a flash back to 20 years ago.

A New Era: The Rise of the New Kings and Queens of Mando-pop

In 2000, the King of Mando-pop Jay Chou released his debut album Jay, showcasing a brand new genre blending hip hop and rap with classical, influencing a new wave of such unique music style. The album nabbed him Golden Melody’s Best Pop Vocal Album that year. His distinctive image and the hit songs ‘Tornado’, ‘Adorable Lady’ and ‘Starry Moody’ firmly established Jay’s signature “Chou Style” in the industry.

Singaporean singer Stefanie Sun, who debuted in Taiwan, burst into the scene with her eponymous album Yan Zi, featuring the standout track ‘Cloudy Day’, adapted from a Taiwanese folk song. She would go on to win the Golden Melody Best New Artist award.

In the same year, Stefanie struck while the iron was hot to release her second album, My Desired Happiness. Barely a year into her debut, Stefanie was crowned a singing diva by Taiwanese media, and came out tops in album sales in Taiwan for two consecutive years. Interestingly, the other nominees of the year’s Best New Artist category were Penny Dai, Freya Lim and Christine Fan, all of whom have become today’s most popular singers. The newbies of 2000 made an extraordinary impact to the music scene.

The Rise Of Girl Groups

In the same year, M-pop welcomed two girl groups. Called S.H.E after their initials, Selena, Hebe and Ella — three completely different personalities —were discovered in a talent show. Their charming ways heralded the new age of girl groups in Taiwan.

Similarly, Hongkong superstars Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung — signed by Emperor Entertainment Group — formed Twins, rising to fame quickly with their close sisterhood the talk of town.

Separately, a group called 4 In Love comprising of Rainie Yang, Sunnie Huang, Windie Chang and Cloudie Ling made their debut in the ‘Fall In Love’ music video featuring only their voices and not their faces. This drew great hype but the group ultimately disbanded after a short two years. Still, their only hit ‘1001 Wishes’ is still frequently heard over the radio.

The Era of the Bands: Mayday Wins Golden Melody’s Best Musical Group

In 2000, bands were still nominated under the Best Vocal Collaboration category before the Golden Melody Awards set up a Best Musical Group category the following year. But that year, all the nominees of the category were bands, leading to the lead singer of Luan Tan, the band who nabbed the award, to declare the arrival of the era of the bands. His classic quote set a backdrop for what was to come in the future of Mando-pop.

The era of the bands truly arrived. Mayday won Golden Melody Awards’ inaugural Best Musical Group prize the following year with their highly successful second album Viva Love, which included songs that remained popular to date like ‘Gentle’, ‘Loneliness Terminator’, ‘Fool’ and ‘Nobody Else In My Heart’.

The Miracle of the Music Industry: Non-stop Hit Songs by the Singing Divas of Mando-pop

Look closely at the year 2000 and you will realise that some of the most popular Mandopop songs by the singing divas were released then. Then 19 years old, teen idol Jolin Tsai’s put out her second album Don’t Stop, which remains her best-selling physical album and cemented her dance pop style; A-Mei’s highly-acclaimed ‘Wonder Why’ song from her Regardless album was also released in 2000.

In the same year, Sandy Lam’s ‘At Least I Still Have You’ swept through Asia, giving her music career a second boost; Faye Wong put out an impressive five-song cycle from her album Fable; Elva Hsiao released her second hit album My Exciting Solitary Life, helmed by the well-received ‘Blossom in Red’, that sold over 1.5 million copies across Asia; Fish Leong found instant fame with two hit songs written by Michael Wong, ‘Courage’ and ‘If One Day’; Karen Mok’s On The Twelfth Floor by Karen Mok album was nominated in six of the major categories in Golden Melody Awards; Coco Lee’s Latin-inspired dance hit ‘True Lover’ was released then as well.

The year of 2000 also saw the release of other classic songs like Rene Liu’s ‘Waiting For You’ and ‘Afterwards’, Cheer Chen’s ‘Lonely Without You’, Matilda Tao’s ‘Too Hurtful’, Where Chou’s ‘Really Want To Love You’ and Na Ying’s ‘Betrayal’.

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