Latest News:  

English>>Life & Culture

China's sweetheart

By  Zhang Yiqian (Global Times)

09:21, January 29, 2013

Teresa Teng (file photo)

Just this past Saturday, a concert in Wukesong, Haidian district, paid tribute to a pop star that has not graced the stage for nearly 20 years.

The concert was for the 60th birthday of Teresa Teng, who passed away in 1995 from severe asthma. Her songs are widely known in China and have influenced a whole generation.

Born in 1953, Teng first gained popularity in Taiwan and came to the Chinese mainland once it opened up after the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). She was undoubtedly a national icon and many grew up listening to her songs. To this day, she remains an iconic figure and lives in the hearts of her fans, even after so many years.

Though Teng was most popular in the '70s and '80s, she has impacted a younger generation as well.

Beijinger Li Zhen, 27, who works at the China Development Bank, said he grew up listening to Teng.

"I first heard her songs when I was 13 or 14," Li said. "The song was 'When Will You Come Again.' At first, I wasn't too attracted to it, but then I felt her voice. It sounded light and sweet, as if from heaven."

His parents are also fervent fans of Teng's and always played her songs at home when Li was growing up, adding to his fascination.

"She was also the first to sing of love in her songs [after the Cultural Revolution] and therefore had a great influence on people," Li said.

Teng is not only China's pop idol. She's also influenced expats. A musician from the multi-national punk band DUDE, who goes by only Matt, said his band plays Teng's two biggest hits - "Tian Mi Mi (Sweet Honey)" and "Yueliang Daibiao Wode Xin (The Moon Represents My Heart)" from time to time.

"When I went to KTVs all over China, they always played the famous songs from the '70s and '80s, especially songs from her, which was perfect," he said.

The band changes her melodies into a punk rock style, which gets a mixed reaction from audiences.

"There are some people that come and say it's awesome, but there are some who said they like the songs, but we're not playing them right," he said. In general, people are happy to hear Teng's songs. "Most of the time we play the song, people sing with us. Sometimes 200 people shout the lyrics out."

Wang Ge, a music critic, said Teng can be compared to Elvis Presley in terms of influence because they both touched on raw human emotions.

"Like Elvis Presley, she invoked an awareness of gender and sexuality issues - probably just pure romance in Teresa Teng's case - through pop music. That's what pop music is about, isn't it?" Wang said.

Wang said her popularity is also due to her timing. Teng came to the Chinese mainland after the opening-up in 1978 and brought romance to the people after they had gone through so much political turmoil, he said.

"In a way, the shocking transformation from revolutionary songs to Teresa Teng is like how people in the West went from 'How Much is that Doggie in the Window' to 'Hound Dog.' It was about repressed desires getting an outlet. That's especially the case for [Chinese mainland] fans," he said.

Wang said it would be hard for another national icon like Teng to rise in today's society.

"A national icon like Teng came somewhat from the lack of choice, because there weren't many pop stars around to choose from at the time. The Internet deconstructs idol worship. Weibo, Twitter, Tianya (and) TMZ ... put ordinary people in the same arena with celebrities, making nobody perfect anymore," he said.

We recommend:

Beijing is in silver and white

Girlhood photos of Chinese stars revealed

A trip to sunshine sanctuary in Beihai

How sweet! Stunning pure ad girls

China's largest 'capsule hotel' opens in Qingdao

La Perla Spring Summer 2013 Lingerises

A young artist's life with wolf cub

Banquets at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse

Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan marries


Leave your comment0 comments

  1. Name


Selections for you

  1. Submarine flotilla in torpedo rapid-support

  2. Soldiers in emergency military drill

  3. The world in photos (2013.1.21-1.27)

  4. Panda 'Yaya' trained in China's Shaanxi

  5. Buildings collapse after subsidence

  6. Dense fog stages a choking comeback

  7. Incredible old photos

  8. CCTV hosts and their lovers

  9. China to build its first third-generation nuclear plant

  10. Nation's wind farms heading offshore

Most Popular


  1. Inflection point of demographic dividend appears
  2. Purpose of Japanese politicians' China tour
  3. Why world focus on China's anti-corruption
  4. Japan PM: Door open for talks with China
  5. Y-20 marks transformation of PLA air force
  6. Is UK's withdrawal from EU a show?
  7. China's anti-missile test no threat to peace
  8. Children toy with new forms of leisure
  9. Egyptians' rallies reflect growing political awareness
  10. Princess's unique perspective for cultural integration

What’s happening in China

Buildings collapse after subsidence in S China

  1. 10 dead in Heilongjiang train-bus collision
  2. Hot debate on how to keep South warm
  3. 5 dead in central China oil tank blast
  4. Beijing restaurants size down to save waste
  5. Rewards for diners who leave nothing