Guest on mainland Chinese singing show says HK’s music no longer has ‘an edge’ but cannot even name a recent Canto-pop song

Screengrab of Zhejiang Television singing competition Praise the Program
Screengrab of Zhejiang Television singing competition Praise the Program

A guest of a mainland Chinese singing competition has been getting flak on social media, after he commented on how Hong Kong’s music no longer has “the edge it had in the past” but could not even name a recent Canto-pop song. 

Hong Kong-born singer Joey Yung recently sang a Cantonese classic by Samantha Lam, which roughly translates as “First Love”, on Zhejiang Television’s singing show Praise the Program

While judging Yung’s performance, Xiao Lu, a guest on the show who is best known as a celebrity on Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok), commented on how he was looking forward to seeing when “the Hong Kong music scene can return to the golden age that I recall.” 

The Hong Kong singer was nodding her head as Xiao made his comments. 

“I feel that for the past few years, the Hong Kong music industry has not had the edge it had in the past,” he added. 

At that point, Hong Kong-American singer-songwriter Coco Lee, who promotes mainly in Taiwan and more recently mainland China, asked if he listens to Hong Kong music, to which he answered yes.

Yung then asked Xiao for the name of the latest Canto-pop song he has listened to. 

The guest named mainland Chinese singer Wang Heye’s “The Great Wind Blows, which has its chorus in Cantonese but verses in Mandarin.  

The camera then panned to two celebrities, who said that they could not think of any new Cantonese songs but only knew oldies such as Jacky Cheung’s “Messy Hair, which was released in 1998. 

Yung responded to the guest by saying she agreed with what he said, adding that the mainland music scene is very exciting and has a lot of talent. 

“But I listened to Hong Kong’s music growing up. A lot of people in different ranks have been working hard and there have been not bad results these past one or two years,” she added. 

Xiao’s comments have drawn the ire of some online, with many seemingly coming from Hongkongers but some from the mainland as well. 

“🤣People on the mainland only listen to old Cantonese songs and are not willing to embrace new songs and new singing styles. After that you say [Hong Kong’s music scene] is declining,” said one netizen. 

“But who cares? Only [Hong Kong] singers who are out of fashion will perform in mainland China 🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️.”

“Another person criticizes Hong Kong’s music industry without listening to Canto-pop, haha,” said another. 

An internet user who uses simplified Chinese characters (indicating they are likely from mainland China) slammed the guest for pointing out issues with Hong Kong’s music scene but not even paying attention to the industry or listening to its contemporary songs. 

“I want to laugh until I die. He can’t even name a single Canto-pop song from the past few years. What kind of Canto-pop song is ‘The Great Wind Blows’,” the netizen asked. 

Some internet users also asked if the guest knows popular boy band Mirror and highlighted good Canto-pop songs such as “Caution Wet Floor” by MC Cheung, a newcomer to Hong Kong’s music scene who swept many awards last year. 

One netizen slammed Yung, who has been focusing on the mainland market in recent years, for agreeing with Xiao.

Hong Kong’s music scene has seen a revival in recent years with young singers like Terence Lam, Gareth.T and Panther Chan, while veterans like Hins Cheung and Joyce Cheng have been producing hits to wide acclaim.

Watch the exchanges between Xiao, Yung and Lee here, starting at 15:58. 

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