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C-pop is an abbreviation for Chinese popular music, a loosely defined musical genre by artists originating from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Others come from countries where the Chinese language is used by much of the population, such as Singapore and Malaysia. C-pop is sometimes used as an umbrella term covering not only Chinese pop but also R&B, ballads, Chinese rock, Chinese hip-hop, and Chinese ambient music, although Chinese rock diverged during the early 1990s.


Cantopop or HK-pop is a genre of popular music sung in Cantonese, usually in Hong Kong, primarily influenced by pop, electronic, and disco. Cantopop is also used to refer to the cultural context of its production and consumption. Cantopop somewhat continued the Shidaiqu tradition of singers also being actors in movies: for example, Leslie Cheung starred in 56 films. Cantopop songs sometimes have additional versions sung in Mandarian instead of Cantonese, and vise versa.

The genre began in the 1970s and became associated with Hong Kong popular music from the middle of the decade. It peaked with massive popularity in the 1980s through the 1990s with the artists Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai being known as the "Four Heavenly Kings". However, the death of both Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui in 2003 was a drastic loss to the genre. Then in the late 2000s, there were multiple scandals involving Cantopop artists. Although Cantopop is still very popular, it has since then been in a state of slow decline.[1]

Most Cantopop songs were upbeat and music videos were accordingly colorful with a ton of 80's computer-generated special effects. When performed live, the stage was filled with flashing colors and plenty of backup dancers. In contrast, there were also ballads with a slow melody and music videos comprised of the singer looking out into the distance while shrouded in dark colors. Lastly, the popularity of Cantonese covers of Japanese City Pop led to some original Cantopop songs being influenced by it. The drums and disco of City Pop were similar to Cantopop and fit well together, but the jazz and funk aspects were too different and weren't incorporated.


Mandopop refers to Mandarin popular music, either in mainalnd China or Taiwan. The genre has its origin in the jazz-influenced popular music of the 1930s Shanghai known as Shidaiqu.


China singing stars 1940s

Five of the Seven Great Singing Stars, the most iconic Shidaiqu singers

Shidaiqu originated in Shanghai, China in the 1920s. The first songs were simple and sung very high-pitched by female teenage singers. Over time, the singers became better-trained and older, the songs became more complex, and male singers were sometimes incorporated as well. Most singers were also actresses and performed in movies, which usually had singing scenes.

Singers often wore the cheongsam, a Chinese dress based on Manchu clothing; the period is commonly considered the golden age of cheongsam.[2]

In 1952, the Communist Party of China banned pop music and destroyed western instruments. Shidaiqu continued on as some singers moved to Hong Kong (the CPC had no power there due to it being a colony of the United Kingdom) but the genre ultimately declined by the early 1960s as jazz became less popular.

Taiwanese Mandopop[]

The most well known Taiwanese Mandopop artist was Teresa Teng.

In the 2000s, Taiwanese Mandopop incorporated "Chinese style", most notably by the the artist Jay Chou. This style mixed pop music with traditional Chinese folk music.

The genre is most well known on the internet from the meme where Zhang Aiqin (nicknamed "Duck Egg") sung Yi Jian Mei by Fei Yu-ching.

Modern C-pop[]

in the 2000s, Mandopop produced in mainland China became mainstream. The 2010s saw the formation of Chinese idol groups along with singing contests becoming popular.

Like Taiwanese Mandopop, the genre also became popular on the internet as a water bottle advertisement using the song 热爱105°C的你 by 阿肆 became a meme.

Hokkien Pop[]

Hokkien Pop is a C-Pop genre sung in Taiwanese Hokkien and produced mainly in Taiwan. Since Taiwan as a Japanese colony from 1895 to 1945, it was originally influenced by Japanese enka. However, the genre was restricted in 1949 after the Kuomintang declared martial law and started the White Terror where native culture was suppressed. Hokkien Pop was banned from being broadcast, but was sometimes sung during the the Campus Song folk movement of the 1970s. In 1987, martial law was lifted and Hokkien pop was finally allowed once again.

Hokkien pop is the most popular amongst Hoklo people in Taiwan, Mainland China, and the Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia.


  1. Zhu, Y. (2017). Hong Kong Cantopop : a concise history. Project Muse.