Su­per Girl breaks new ground

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

hi­nese singer-song­writer Li Yuchun re­leased her eighth stu­dio al­bum, Grow­ing Wild, in 2016. In­stead of a CD in­clud­ing a dozen new songs, Li broke with tra­di­tion by sep­a­rat­ing the new al­bum into four EPs.

She also teamed up with QQ Mu­sic, the mu­sic ser­vice un­der China’s in­ter­net gi­ant Tencent, to launch the new al­bum on­line. The first EP, Wild, sold 3 mil­lion copies in 16 days af­ter it was re­leased in May of last year. The three other EPs were then re­leased within six months, with to­tal sales of more than 6 mil­lion copies, gross­ing over 32.8 mil­lion yuan ($4.73 mil­lion).

When the num­bers were an­nounced at a press con­fer­ence in Bei­jing re­cently, the 32-year-old Li smiled shyly in front of her roar­ing fans.

“The idea for the new al­bum started two years ago. At that time, I just fol­lowed the tra­di­tional pat­tern of se­lect­ing new songs and put them into an al­bum,” Li says.

What in­spired her to break the al­bum into four seg­ments was that “usu­ally we pick up one or two songs as the lead­ing tracks,which then tend to over­shadow the other songs,” Li says. “But I like all 12 new songs very much and couldn’t de­cide which one should be the lead­ing sin­gle. So why not in­tro­duce them to the fans three at a time?”

Ac­cord­ing to Andy Wai Lam Ng, the vice-pres­i­dent of Tencent Mu­sic En­ter­tain­ment Group, Grow­ing Wild achieved China’s high­est dig­i­tal mu­sic sales since the com­pany re­leased the first Chi­nese dig­i­tal al­bum, Tai­wan pop icon Jay Chou’s al­bum, Aiyo, Not Bad , in De­cem­ber 2014. So far, QQ Mu­sic has re­leased dig­i­tal al­bums from many Chi­nese singers — in­clud­ing Dou Jing­tong and Lu Han — South Korean boy group Big Bang, and West­ern artists such as Adele, Ri­hanna and Tay­lor Swift.

“Get­ting peo­ple to pay for dig­i­tal mu­sic has be­come a trend in China’s mu­sic in­dus­try. Dig­i­tal mu­sic sales reached 110 mil­lion yuan in 2016, for year-on-year growth of 150 per­cent.

“I wasn’t sure about my de­ci­sion then, but now the re­sult is very en­cour­ag­ing,” Li says. “I want to break more bar­ri­ers and push bound­aries.”

Mu­si­cally, the new al­bum dis­played Li’s am­bi­tion of be­ing dif­fer­ent. She in­vited pro­duc­ers she had never worked with be­fore, which brought sur­prise and in­spi­ra­tion through­out the mak­ing of the al­bum.

One of the pro­duc­ers, Chen Weilun, also wrote songs for Li’s new al­bum, in­clud­ing Sense of Pres­ence and Fig. Chen, who was a mu­sic pro­ducer for in­die mu­si­cians and films, is keen on blend­ing tra­di­tional Chi­nese mu­sic with mod­ern sounds, such as rock, jazz and elec­tronic mu­sic.

“She is not afraid of try­ing new things. The song, Fig ,is not a con­ven­tional love bal­lad or dance mu­sic. The song is longer, nearly 6 min­utes, and she sings like mur­mur­ing, which is dif­fer­ent from her usual per­for­mances,” says Chen.

In sup­port of the new al­bum, Li launched a na­tional tour, en­ti­tled Grow­ing Wild, which vis­ited five cities around China, in­clud­ing Bei­jing, Shen­zhen and Nan­jing, at­tract­ing more than 50,000 fans.

It has been more than a decade since Li, a once un­known 21-year-old mu­sic stu­dent from Sichuan prov­ince, ap­peared on and won the tele­vised singing com­pe­ti­tion Su­per Girl in 2005. The TV show at­tracted a na­tion­wide au­di­ence of 400 mil­lion and fans voted for the young singer with a neu­tral style and deep, soul­ful voice. Her pow­er­ful in­di­vid­u­al­ity made her a phe­nom­e­non in the coun­try.

Over the past decade, Li has re­leased eight stu­dio al­bums and more than 50 chart-top­ping sin­gles. Her an­nual, sold-out Why Me con­cert has been sup­ported by her loyal fans, known as Yu Mi, lit­er­ally trans­lated as “corns”, a play on words for Yu’s fans.

“I was un­pre­pared when my­ca­reer­tookoff.Th­esongsI per­formed­w­ere­cho­sen­bymy record com­pany. I was just a per­former,” Li says of her past 10 years.

It was not un­til 2009 that she started writ­ing songs and re­al­ized what kind she liked.

“From then on, I was no longer a per­former. I am a singer de­liv­er­ing mes­sages through my mu­sic.”

That’s not to say Li is lim­ited to mu­sic; she has also ex­panded her brand into movies and fash­ion. In re­cent years, she has starred in big­bud­get movies, such as Hong Kong di­rec­tor Tsui Hark’s The of mu­sic Fly­ing Swords of Dragon Gate, which also fea­tures Jet Li and Zhou Xun.

She sat in the front row at Gucci run­way shows. Gucci’s creative di­rec­tor Alessan­dro Michele and Amer­i­can fash­ion de­signer Alexan­der Wang de­signed cos­tumes for her Grow­ing Wild tour. French de­signer Jean Paul Gaultier cre­ated the wardrobe for her Crazy World tour in 2012.

In 2017, the singer-song­writer hopes to step fur­ther out of her com­fort zone as a singer.

Like she raps in her new song, Xi Men Shao Nian, which was writ­ten by Li and is the last song of the new al­bum, Li says that what mat­ters to her is the orig­i­nal pas­sion for mu­sic. Con­tact the writer at chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Top: Li Yuchun’s lat­est al­bum, Grow­ing Wild, sold over 6 mil­lion copies, gross­ing over 32.8 mil­lion yuan. Mid­dle: Li Yuchun per­forms with 300 dancers at a New Year’s Eve gala aired by Jiangsu Satel­lite TV Sta­tion on Dec 31, 2016. Above left and right: Li Yuchun per­forms dur­ing her Grow­ing Wild tour, which toured five cities around China.

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