Just how big is Faye Wong in the world of Chinese entertainment? For those in the know, HUGE, in bold and all-caps, comes close but still doesn’t suffice. Imagine an artist who has been at the top of Chinese star charts for the past twenty years and you begin to get an inkling. Her string of albums and concerts in that period are remarkable not only for their success but for their quality. I don’t think any other artist in the world comes even close to the standard of achievement that Faye has set and continues to set. Faye, in her own life, is always learning and growing, and this attitude is reflected in her music and performance. Every album has been a step in new directions, new explorations, setting new trends as a matter of course. As she grows, she takes her fans along for the ride, and they, too, grow.
Faye remains at the top even when she’s on hiatus. In fact, the more reclusive she tries to be, the more attention she receives from the media and fans. For example, a single shopping trip to a mall in baggy sweats, shades, and baseball cap will draw the paparazzi and appear in print and TV media across the country for days. She is also among the highest paid models in China.
Why is Faye so big? For starters, she’s drop-dead beautiful. But she is also an incredibly gifted song writer and singer. She’s a talented actress. She’s extremely intelligent. She’s spiritual. She’s socially conscious. She cares. She’s genuine. The list of her close friends and associates also say a lot about her. They are loyal and among the best at what they do. And she’s in touch not only with herself but the world around her.
Thus, when FastTrack.HK published “Why Faye Wong Is the Only Big Internationl Music Gateway into China” on13 June 2012, fayenatics aren’t surprised. The article focuses on artists from the West, such as Wyclef Jean, who have attempted to capture or exploit the Chinese market but have, “just as quickly, left with their tails between their legs.”
The article continues: “Sure, one can tour and tour and tour and play all the festivals — Rock, Punk, Jazz etc. — but the red tape to actually get into China and perform — and then the end financial results — do not justify the means or the efforts. For too many years, I have seen artists from around the world want to make it in China, think they’ve made it, fail and who never stopped to understand why. All they could do was to play the blame game.”
Then the writer focuses on Faye: “Forget every other artist in China. If a Beyonce, a Gaga, or a Jay-Z wants to make it in China, they need to collaborate with Faye Wong.”
At now, 41, this striking[ly] beautiful singer is China’s only bona fide diva. She can command whatever fee she bloody wants for one concert. But, these days, Faye can pick and choose when and where she performs and with whomever she might wish to collaborate. From being a Hong Kong-based singer who based her entire image and style of singing by copying Bjork and Dolores O’Riordan from Cranberries, she has cultivated an image that straddles both cult and Mainstream — extremely difficult to do — but Faye has done it through a very cultish image of being reclusive and recording and performing at her very mainstream concerts full of pretty tame songs, but which are only the backdrops to her very elaborate and very frequent costume changes — and image.
If any International fashion designer truly wished to be iconic in China, design the costumes for one of Faye’s tours. If any artist wishes to be truly noticed in China, tour with Faye Wong — but as the opening act. In China, who do you think will be the opening act for a concert featuring Beyonce and Faye Wong? If you guessed [Faye Wong], you guessed wrong. A Beyonce etc. needs Faye Wong in China. Faye Wong needs no one else. She is her own show.
The writer’s way off the mark on the influence that other artists have had on her career. Faye has incorporated some of their music into her repertoire, but they are only a part of the body of her work. Faye’s own compositions and songs written exclusively for her by some of the best Chinese song writers are the foundation of her continued fame and success. Furthermore, anyone who calls her songs “tame” hasn’t really attended her concerts or listened to her albums. Faye can rock, rap, indie, pop, and soul with the best — and her own compositions tend to be cutting edge, progressive, and often controversial.
The writer’s focus on the costume changes in Faye’s concerts is also unfortunate. Faye’s main attraction has always been, first and foremost, her songs. The staging and costumes are secondary. In fact, the concerts would be just as successful if Faye showed up on a bare stage in jeans and T-shirt, with only her musicians and chorus to accompany her. In fact, I have a feeling many — if not most — fayenatics would prefer this simple presentation.
Finally, as far as I know, Faye doesn’t use opening acts in her concerts. In fact, she seldom if ever includes guest performers. Part of the problem is that Faye has so many hits that she can’t possibly sing them all. Thus, she carefully picks and chooses pieces to satisfy her wide range of fans. The biggest complaint among her fans is that Faye didn’t sing enough of their favorite songs.
The fact that FastTrack.HK appreciates Faye’s influence in China is commendable. However, it’s also obvious that the writer, like so many outside the world of Chinese entertainment, really doesn’t know much about Ah Faye.
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