Rare Early Videos – Faye’s First Video

The year was 1989, and Wong Chingman (王靖雯, Wang Jingwen in Mandarin) appeared in a Hong Kong TV program that featured contestants and winners of the Asia-Pacific Gold Zheng Popular Tune Composition Contest (亚太金筝流行曲创作大赛). This would be the equivalent of today’s American Idol-type contests. This is, I believe, the first video of the megastar, who would later be known as Faye Wong (王菲), performing on stage in the career that began after her family’s move to HK.

She placed third in the competition, singing “Still the Same Phrase” (仍是旧句子). And like today’s idol winners, this win launched her into the recording world. In Nov 1989, she released her first official album, Shirley Wong. Considering Faye’s phenomenal career in the following decades, it’s hard to imagine that she didn’t take the gold. The voice is there, and the model’s good looks, too. But I guess the fact that she was unknown in HK up until this point and that she sang in Cantonese instead of Mandarin, the language she’s most comfortable in, might’ve made a difference. Still, I get goosebumps when I watch this video of a 20-year-old Faye on the verge of becoming the greatest pop singer in China.

For a first album, Shirley Wong was very popular. It remained on the leading pop charts for seven weeks in Nov and Dec 1989 and rose as high as the second spot in Jan 1990. As a result, she received bronze in the Chizha Pop Music Chart (叱咤乐坛流行榜中) awards for best new female singer (生力军女歌手) for 1989. The video above captures her live onstage performance during the awards ceremony, singing “However That Day” (无奈那天), the first track on Shirley and the biggest hit.

In the video above, Faye has a live interview on the night of the award.

Track 1: Faye as Wang Jingwen (王靖雯) singing “However That Day” (無奈那天), the lead track in Shirley Wong. The male in the video is Ekin Cheng.

Track 2: “Excuse” (借口)

Track 7: “Still the Same Phrase” (From YouTube upload by Snpro 18 May 2007)

Added 6.9.08: The sources I found aren’t clear about when, exactly, Faye signed with Cinepoly in the sequence of events described above. The most prevalent view is that she studied singing in HK with Mr. and Mrs. Dai Sicong (戴思聪), who recognized her gifts and introduced her to Chen Xiaobao (陈小宝), Cinepoly general manager, who auditioned and signed Faye to a recording contract before the Zheng Popular Tune [筝流行曲] contest. However, another source indicated that the signing took place after she won the contest. At this point, I’ll go with the popular opinion.