What’s Stalling Faye Wong’s Return?

I’m sure this question has been on the minds of millions of Faye Wong (王菲) fans throughout the world for the last four years. Since her last No Faye, No Live! concert in Guangzhou on 10 January 2005, the release of the concert album in November 2004, and her To Love (將愛 Jiang Ai) album in November 2003, we have been waiting for a new album or concert performance.

Will 2009 be the year when Faye returns?

I’m not an insider like Katie Chen (陈家瑛 Chen Jiaying), Carina Lau (刘嘉玲 Liu Jia Ling), Vicki Zhao (赵薇 Zhao Wei), or Ma Jia (马葭) so I can’t answer this question with any kind of authority, but like most of you, I’ve been following her career very closely and have a number of thoughts on what may be keeping Faye from returning to her performing career.


(Photo source: 7_70)

There are a number of clues that might, together, provide an explanation:

Clue 1. Faye isn’t motivated by money. She never has been and probably never will. Thus, multimillion dollar offers may not have the appeal that it does for most people.

Clue 2. She’s not staying away because of the children, Tong Tong (竇靖童 Dou Jingtong) and Li Yan (李嫣), as many believe. Yes, she loves them and enjoys caring for them, but in the past, she resumed her career almost immediately after Tong Tong’s birth.

Clue 3. Since Coming Home in August 1992, every album has been different in the sense that, in each, Faye pushes the envelope, experimenting and trying new things. The point is that her discography since 1992 is a continuous progression, development, or growth. In her last album, Jiang Ai, Faye served as co-producer, with Zhang Ya Dong (張亞東), of the entire album. She also composed and wrote three of the songs, the title track “To Love,” “Leave Nothing” (不留), and “Sunshine Dearest” (陽寶), and she composed the music for “April Snow” (四月雪).

Clue 4. She’s not resting, as many seem to believe. Faye has tremendous energy and strength, and the reason for her absence from the limelight isn’t physical.

Clue 5. She’s not being restrained or held back by her husband, Li Yapeng (李亚鹏), as some believe. In fact, LYP is her biggest fan and would want nothing better than to see and hear Faye perform once again. However, to his credit, he’s leaving the decision solely in her hands.

Clue 6. Faye hasn’t lost her voice as some speculate. Her voice and talents are part of her DNA, and she can’t lose what’s a natural part of her. Also, her 18 May 2008 earthquake relief live performance with Faith Yang ( 杨乃文, Yang Nai Wen), Eason Chan (陈奕迅, Chen Yi Xun, ), and Aniu (阿牛) in “Wishing We Last Forever” demonstrated to the world that her voice is as beautiful as ever.

Clue 7. She hasn’t lost her looks. All one has to do is look at her recent photos and videos. She is absolutely gorgeous!

Clue 8. Faye isn’t restless, and this is a major reason, I think, for her reluctance to reignite her career. In the past, her creative juices flowed when she was restless or impatient. It’s almost as though she’s driven by an inner force that only she can feel — a force that can be released only through creative expression in music.

Clue 9. She hasn’t seen or heard anything in the current music scene to spark her creative energies. There’s no modern day equivalent of Teresa Teng (鄧麗君 Deng Lijun) or Cocteau Twins to inspire her. And her former collaborators, Zhang and Lin Xi (林夕), as well as C. Y. Kong, Dou Wei (竇唯), and Nic Tse (谢霆锋 Xie Tingfeng), haven’t been working with her to create new material.

Clue 10. Faye has never said that she’s retired or retiring from her career. And this is perhaps the most important clue. She’s leaving the door open simply because she may want to step into the recording studio when the spirit moves her. There’s no timetable. It’s just a matter of waiting for the right moment to strike, when her adrenaline and restlessness kicks in.

A Likely Scenario for Faye’s Return

So, given these clues, what’s a likely scenario for her return? My guess is that either or both Zhang and Lin Xi will have to make the first move by presenting Faye with new songs or concepts that could be exciting for her. It’ll have to be sufficiently different, new, and edgy, and it’ll have to be something that fits Faye and represents, for her, growth.

These two have collaborated extensively with Faye in the past, and, together, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I’d also toss C. Y. Kong, Dou Wei, and Nic into the mix. Faye brings out the genius in each of these guys, and, together, they could create the kind of music that would stir the restlessness or anxiety within Faye that seeks creative expression in music.

In this scenario, Faye would play many different roles, as she has in the past, when she felt in sync with her collaborators, and these roles will include bouncing off her partners and adding her own touches, including original compositions or lyrics or both.

These individuals, including Faye, intuitively realize that, alone, each can’t grow. It’s only in collaboration that they can transcend the limits of their own talents and create music that’ll take them and the entire industry to a whole new level.

So, how do we get this ball rolling? I’d say that someone has to take the initiative, the first step. And from where I’m sitting, the most likely candidate for this task is Katie. She has the personality, the power, and the talent to bring people together. She needs to make this happen by contacting the individuals and asking them to work with Faye to take up where she left off in 2005.

The goal would definitely not be to do an oldies-but-goodies rehash of past hits. Instead, it would be to continue the growth that stopped in 2005, to take the next step into a new and different sound that is purely Faye Wong.

Faye at the Olympics on Aug 23

Look for a media frenzy when Faye Wong (王菲) shows up to watch the women’s volleyball gold medal match on Saturday, August 23, at 8:00 PM in Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium. (Shanghaiist.com reports an Aug 24 date for the final.) She’ll most probably be there with her close friend Carina Lau (刘嘉玲 Liu Jia Ling).

The Chinese team’s best matches are coming up:

  • August 14, 8:00 p.m. v. Japan (Capital Indoor Stadium)
  • August 16, 10:00 a.m. v. USA (Beijing Institute of Technology)
  • August 18, 8:00 p.m. v. Italy (Capital Indoor Stadium)

(Source: CCTV.com 8.13.08, Shanghaiist.com 7.16.08)

Faye Wong’s July 31 Birthday Celebration

Carina Lau (刘嘉玲 Liu Jia Ling) flew to Beijing on Thursday, July 30, to celebrate Faye Wong’s (王菲) birthday with Faye and other close friends, including Na Ying (那英) and Hu Jun (胡军). On the 31st, they gathered at a restaurant close to the Museum of Fine Arts. Eastday/Sina report that the location is “in the depths of an alley, very remote.” They sat at two tables, and feasted on old Beijing-based dishes such as gong tingcai, duck, fish, and rice. After their meal, at around 21:00, the party moved to a different locaton, a karaoke bar, a four-story establishment with luxurious private dining rooms. Although they weren’t allowed into the 4th story room where the party was being held, reporters claim to have heard Faye’s distinct voice, singing a duet with Na Ying.

Rumor – Faye’s 40 Days Pregnant

This rumor is so prevalent that it’s tough to ignore — Faye Wong’s (王菲) been pregnant for the last 40 days. According to sources such as Sina.com, her pregnancy is in response to Li Yapeng’s (李亚鹏) desire for a son. They have two daughters, Tong Tong (竇靖童 Dou Jingtong) and Li Yan (李嫣). Tong Tong’s father is Dou Wei (竇唯), Faye’s ex. Faye will be 39 in a few days, and if this rumor is true, pundits fear a difficult pregnancy.

Other news – Carina Lau (刘嘉玲 Liu Jia Ling) flew to Beijing on Wednesday, July 30, to celebrate Faye’s birthday with Faye and other close friends, including Na Ying (那英) and Hu Jun (胡军), on the 31st. Faye’s actual birthday is on Aug. 8.

Update 8.5.08: According to CQnews.net (8.6.08), Faye’s manager, Katie Chen  (陈家瑛 Chen Jiaying), confirmed reports of the pregnancy on Aug 5. (BTW, time discrepancies between this blog and China sources are a result of differing time zones.) Re questions about China’s one-child policy, the response, according to at least one report, is that Faye is a Hong Kong national.

Update 8.6.08: Katie’s confirmation at 3PM on Aug 5. (Source Jun-Jun’s blog in China Economic Net)

A Third Video

This third video invites an interesting contrast. From the 02:28-04:54 mark, we witness the sheer frenzy of the media as it descends on Faye Wong (王菲), swarming around her and forcing her to dodge and cut in different directions just to get through them. You have to simultaneously admire and feel sorry for her: admire her agility, peripheral vision, and grace under extreme duress (she would’ve made a great running back in the NFL); and feel sorry for the extreme media onslaught that she endures wherever she goes.

In contrast, from the 05:15-end mark, we see the media politely interviewing Carina Lau and Tony Leung as they make their way through the airport. There are only a handful of reporters, in comparison to the throng that surrounded Faye. We have to remember that Carina Lau (刘嘉玲 Liu Jia Ling) and Tony Leung (梁朝偉) are the official stars of this event in Bhutan. It’s their wedding, after all,  that’s supposed to be at center stage.

Yet, judging by the media’s focus and attention, the real attraction is Faye. And this is always true. Wherever she goes, whatever she does, regardless of the situation, Faye literally becomes the attraction. That she would garner infinitely more coverage than anyone else, including the wedding couple, is no surprise to anyone. That she has no intention of upstaging her very close friend Carina is also very clear by Faye’s dress and demeanor. She is trying her best to dress down and totally ignore the media, hoping to avoid attracting their attention. But all is for naught. Regardless of how simply she’s dressed and how unfriendly she is to the reporters, she is still mobbed.

Such is Faye’s attraction and significance to the Chinese people. She excites them like no one else in the country — in the world. Wherever she goes, she becomes the star, and this includes concert performances where she’s sitting quietly in the audience, earthquake sites where she’s privately visiting injured children, Buddhist ceremonies in huge arenas where she’s trying to blend in among thousands of worshippers, and, yes, a good friend’s wedding where she’s trying in vain to downplay her presence.

Faye Will Be at Carina’s Wedding on July 21

According to the latest reports (rumors?), Faye Wong (王菲) and Li Yapeng (李亚鹏) will be at Carina Lau (刘嘉玲, Liu Jia Ling) and Tony Leung’s (梁朝偉, Leung Chiu-Wai) wedding in Bhutan on July 21, Monday, at the luxurious Uma Paro hotel. They’ll be among 80 guests who will be flown there on two private jets from Bangkok, where the guests will gather. One of the jets belongs to Brigitte Lin (林青霞, Lin Qingxia), who costarred with Faye and Tony in the 1994 megaclassic Chungking Express. Wong Kar-wai (王家卫), director of the film and planner for the wedding, and Na Ying (那英), who is very close to Faye and Carina, will also be there.

Carina has asked the guests to bring alcoholic drinks with them in anticipation of a shortage in Bhutan. Carina and Tony are tying the knot after a 19-year courtship. The couple starred with Faye in the blockbuster 2004 Wong Kar-wai film 2046.

(Source: Li Xinran in ShanghaiDaily.com, 16 July 2008.)

Faye Wong’s Ten Best ‘Minor’ Videos – #2

2. Faye Wong’s (王菲) Good Friends Concert with Na Ying (那英) and Jeff Chang (张信哲, Zhang Xinzhe), with an appearance by Carina Lau (刘嘉玲, Liu Jia Ling), in Hong Kong on 29 Sep 1998 has to be one of the best. The video quality is poor in all four parts and especially poor in the first. Still, it’s an exciting view into why friends and fans love Faye so much. In this video, she’s the most relaxed that I’ve ever seen her in

a stage performance, letting her hair down and just having a great time with good friends. Her dancing is completely natural and exuberant, and captivating. She’s the obvious megastar and major draw, but she’s completely comfortable in sharing the spotlight. This humility in her character is natural, consistent, and ultimately endearing.

Faye, Na Ying, and Jeff singing “One Night in Beijing” (北京一夜)

Faye, Na Ying, Jeff, and Carina performing “爱之初体验” (Experiencing First Love).

See “10 Best Minor Videos” in the right sidebar for links to the other selections. The introduction to this series is in selection #1.

Added 11.1.08: Click here for a related post.