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Chinese pop music since the 1980s
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Pop singer Yang Yuying

Pop singer Yang Yuying

Guangdong leads the way; campus ballads flourish in the 90s

Guangdong pop music, which has been an engine of the mainland music industry since its early days, hit a new high in the early 1990s as industry pioneers from the southern province adopted the new technique of signing and promoting artists.

Pop singer Yang Yuying was a typical example. In 1992, she recorded her first album and achieved great success. Her album sales set a new record for mainland singers, peaking at more than 1 million copies.

Yang Yuying's success initiated the phenomenon whereby mainland popular entrepreneurs themselves begun to create pop idols. A dozen singers were turned into stars under the successful commercial management of their record companies, who broke the mould under which stars from Hong Kong and Taiwan had dominated the music market for several years.

Pop singer Chen Ming

Pop singer Chen Ming 

Chen Ming's Loneliness Makes Me So Beautiful, Allen Lin's Love Bird and Chen Lin's Your Tenderness I Never Know were the classics of the day.

Throughout this period new themes, new angles and new styles of music emerged on the mainland. Influenced by Taiwan's campus ballads, songwriters and singers in Beijing started a "Neo-Ballad Movement", bringing this music genre to its peak and creating some remarkable Chinese pop classics.

Well known figure in campus ballad Ye Bei

Through the medium of the campus ballad, Lao Lang, Shen Qing, Ye Bei and Pu Shu became very popular in this era. The songs they sang, like My Dear Deskmate (audio), Youth and Where Have All The Flowers Gone (audio) will forever remain in the memory of that generation.

However, as campus ballads were full of sadness and blues, this kind of music struggled for mainstream popularity and largely occupied a side-stage.

In the late 1990s the mainland pop music scene hit the jackpot again with front-line singers like Na Ying, Liu Huan, Tian Zhen and Sun Nan, most of whom started their careers in Beijing, ruling the music charts and awards with quality production teams in the background. These became the superstars of mainland pop music.

At the same time more and more music charts and awards under different titles were being launched by local radio and TV stations to take "a piece of the action" in this profitable industry.

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