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  Great Singers of Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore

The background music playing is Poon Sow Keng singing Lover's Tears from 1964. It is 320 kbps which is high  quality mp3. To stop the music or change the volume, please go to the foot of this page and adjust.

On October 1st, 1949, the People's Republic of China was formed. The Communist Government denounced and suppressed popular music as Yellow Music, a form of pornography. The China Record Corporation became the only music recording company in China.  Most singers and musicians relocated to nearby Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore etc. Mainland China remained this way until Deng Xiaoping (22/08/1904 -19/02/97) came to power and instituted the open door policy in 1978.

From the 1950s onwards, Taiwan became the centre for Mandopop ( Mandarin popular music ) with Hong Kong the centre for Cantopop ( Cantonese popular songs ) Both had thriving Film Industries where dubbing singers such as Yang Guang (杨光) and Jiang Hong (江宏) teamed up with female singers such as Tsin Ting 静婷 and Yao Li 姚莉. Their beautiful duets graced many films such as The Nightingale of Alishan 阿里山之鶯 1957, Bean-curd Queen (豆腐西施 ) 1959 and Love Ditties on the Tea Hill 茶山情歌 1962.
                          The Nightingale of Alishan                                                        Love Ditties on the Tea Hill
                                      Malaysia and Singapore

Malaysia was the main market of Chinese popular music exports for both Hong Kong and Taiwan. Malaysia is unique in the sense that the Malaysian Chinese have been consuming and exposed to all of the three languages from the two popular culture hubs. Singapore, by comparison, only recognizes Mandarin as the official Chinese language, and filters the use of other Chinese dialects in the public media.

There have been local Malaysian Chinese recording industries since the 1960s with Chinese singers involved in Mandopop. In the 1960s Poon Sow Keng (潘秀瓊) Huang Qing Yuan and The Melodiansn 黄清元, and others achieved great success in Malaysia and Singapore . In the 1970s and 80s, Malaysian Chinese pop singers such as Wong Shiau Chuen, Lan Yin, Donny Yap, and Lee Yee were popular. In recent times, popular singers such as Eric Moo, Lee Sin Je, Fish Leong, Z Chen, Penny Tai and Daniel Lee have enjoyed similar success.

                                 The Melodians.
                                     Donny Yap

Singapore was conquered and occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. After the war, Singapore returned to British rule. Eventually, it merged with the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia in 1963. However, after two years of unease between Singapore's ruling People's Action Party and Malaysia's Alliance Party, Singapore separated from Malaysia, and became an independent republic on August 9, 1965.

The following year came Singapore's finest musical hour - or to be precise 2mins 38 secs. It was the Year of the Fire Horse, and up stepped Singapore's very own Elvis - the debonair twenty-one-year-old Huang Qing Yuan - to record the definitive and original version of Man Li, one of the classics and evergreens of Chinese Mandopop. With The Melodians accompanying him, heart-throb Huang really does full justice  to Wang Luobin's song!! Please click on his picture to the left, and hear this song and others. He became one of the Far East Top Ten Singers in 1975, and recorded just the 800 songs during his 40 year career.

Singapore had been a regional centre of music industry for a long time. Recordings of Chinese and Malay popular music were done at the EMI studio in Singapore, but until the 1960s, recordings were sent to be pressed in India and the records then sent back for sale. It was a centre of Malay popular culture where Malay stars such as P. Ramlee were based, but after Singapore independence in 1965, the Malay music industry began to shift to Kuala Lumpur.
                                The Stylers

                                                HONG KONG

In 1839, the Daoguang Emperor rejected proposals to legalise and tax opium and ordered imperial commissioner Lin Zexu to eradicate the opium trade. The commissioner destroyed opium stockpiles and halted all foreign trade, triggering a British military response and the First Opium War. The Qing surrendered early in the war and ceded Hong Kong Island in the Convention of Chuenpi. British forces began controlling Hong Kong shortly after the signing of the convention, from 26 January 1841 However, both countries were dissatisfied and did not ratify the agreement. After more than a year of further hostilities, Hong Kong Island was formally ceded to the United Kingdom in the 1842 Treaty of Nanking.

The colony faced an uncertain future as the end of the New Territories lease approached, and Governor Murray MacLehose raised the question of Hong Kong's status with Deng Xiaoping in 1979. Diplomatic negotiations with China resulted in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, in which the United Kingdom agreed to transfer the colony in 1997 and China would guarantee Hong Kong's economic and political systems for 50 years after the transfer. 

The impending transfer triggered a wave of mass emigration as residents feared an erosion of civil rights, the rule of law, and quality of life. Over half a million people left the territory during the peak migration period, from 1987 to 1996. The Legislative Council became a fully elected legislature for the first time in 1995 and extensively expanded its functions and organisations throughout the last years of the colonial rule.[88] Hong Kong was transferred to China on 1 July 1997, after 156 years of British rule.

                                                Hong Kong Popular Music 

After the Communist takeover in mainland China in 1949, the Mandarin pop music and entertainment industry shifted to Hong Kong. Mandarin also dominated the language of cinematography until the emergence of Cantonese counterparts in the mid-1970s. Many singers from Taiwan came to Hong Kong creating a spectrum of Mandarin pop. The period ended in its height with Teresa Teng. Her songs were popular even in mainland China. Mandarin pop will likely continue to gain in popularity, especially after the 1997 handover which made Mandarin one of the standard languages under Basic Law. One of the TV series that emulate the 60s/70s mandopop club scene in Hong Kong is the TVB series Glittering Days.

In the 1980s, the surge of Hong Kong pop wave expanded rapidly. The music scene was dominated by pop icons Leslie Cheung, Anita Mui, Alan Tam, and Danny Chan. The industry used Cantopop songs in TV dramas and movies, with some of the biggest soundtracks coming from films such as A Better Tomorrow. There were also many Cantopop songs that were adapted from Japanese music.

While TV theme songs are still an important part of Hong Kong music, the arrival of the Four Heavenly Kings took Cantopop a stage higher: Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau, Leon Lai and Aaron Kwok (see below) Today, Cantopop is the dominant form of music with strong associations to pop culture. Record companies have had a majority stake in the segment, and Hong Kong is considered the central hub of Cantopop in the world.

Possibly the most prominent Cantopop star there ever was,
Leslie Cheung is a legend. Now considered one of the “Founding Fathers of Cantopop,” Leslie was a singer and an actor who swept the world, by storm with his iconic music and dedication to his roles. His 1987 film, A Chinese Ghost Story, remains of the iconic films in Chinese Movie History.