Tuesday, January 22, 2013

HK Headline editorial on the ‘sad state of the current HK music industry

I came across the below editorial that was published in HK Headline newspaper today and felt it was really worthy of sharing because it describes the current ‘sad state’ of the HK music industry perfectly! 

As a long-time follower of the HK music industry, I’m personally very disappointed and saddened at how badly the industry has deteriorated over the past 12-13 years.   As I’ve been saying for the past decade or so, the ‘direction’ of the HK music industry seems to have shifted over the years – instead of being focused on making good music, everyone is focused on making money, becoming popular, and getting awards.

Sure, one can argue that part of the problem is that today’s singers lack the distinctive talent that was a key attribute of many of the ‘superstar’ singers who came out of the 80s/early 90s (and the 70s to some extent) generations.  Yes, that is true and I will be the first to agree with this ‘argument’ – BUT it’s not the ONLY reason.   Of course, many of the previous generation singers had distinctive voices and singing skills / styles that set them apart from others and made them ‘easily recognizable’ as soon as they opened their mouths to sing (who here isn’t able to recognize the voices of Roman Tam, Anita Mui, Leslie Cheung, etc) – but that doesn’t mean these artists didn’t put effort into their singing...just because they had the benefit of being endowed with awesome talent and great voices doesn’t mean that they could just ‘cut corners’ and let their talent alone bring them ‘fame and fortune’.   In addition to sharing good work ethics, one thing that many of the previous generation’s artists shared is a true passion for making good music – basically “ making music for music’s sake” (as opposed to today’s mantra of “making music for money’s sake”).

In the current era where ‘shortcuts’ such as lip-syncing and using technology to ‘enhance’ album recordings (so that singers sound ‘perfect’ when recording a CD) are so prevalent (to the point of being ‘commonplace’), true singers who have the ability / skill to sing LIVE and still sound ‘perfect’ are extremely hard to come by – in fact, I honestly feel that these types of TRUE SINGERS are already reaching the point of ‘extinction’!

Ok, before I really start offending people, I should probably get off my soapbox and just leave my commentary as is….but before I do that, just one last comment I wanted to make about the lesson learned from the last paragraph in the below editorial:   instead of placing all the blame for the HK music industry’s downfall on illegal pirating of music, the industry (including not just singers and songwriters, but also the record companies and multi-media outlets such as radio and TV stations as well) should really look internally first and understand where the problems truly lie….if there is to be any hope for the future of the HK music industry, everyone needs to be going in the same direction and sincerely working for the ‘greater good’ of the industry.  If the current HK music industry could display even 80% of the UNITY and SINCERITY that the industry was known for back in the 70s/80s/early 90s, then perhaps the industry can turn things around and ‘flourish’ again....(holding out hope that this can happen in my lifetime!)


HK Headline Editorial – ‘Brought to the point of tears’  [opinion piece on RTHK Top Ten Gold Song Awards]

Source:  HKHeadline News

Translation:  llwy12

What is a ‘Gold Song 35th Anniversary Honorary Award’?  What is the difference [between that award] and the ‘Golden Needle’ award?   A few nights ago, Jacky Cheung (張學友) just received the former [Honorary Award]  -- 12 years ago, he already received the latter [Golden Needle award].  Actually, what award he gets doesn’t matter -- because being able to hear Jacky sing live is already a blessing.

Thinking back to the HK music industry of the 80s and 90s, there were tons of great Cantonese songs – the competition at the music awards got to the point where it was too difficult to just pick 10 songs because there were just too many, too many, too many.   Back then, despite having more award-worthy songs than awards, the organizers of the awards shows refused to budge on their ‘only choose 10’ methodology.

Nowadays, trying to pick 10 sings to reward at the yearly award ceremonies is an even more difficult feat because, well, there just aren’t enough ‘good songs’ worthy of choosing.  Ironically though, this year, RTHK ‘insisted’ that due to the ‘fierce competition’, they had ‘no choice’ but to expand the awards from ‘Top 10’ to ‘Top 12’.  Other than responding to this ‘news’ with “Oh…”, I really can’t think of anything else to say.

The [RTHK award show] night pretty much consisted of a bunch of singers ‘hea’ singing [TN:  meaning ‘singing badly/lazily’]:  Eason Chan’s (陳奕迅) performance of ‘Heavy Taste’ (重口味) was horrible to listen to – it was pretty much Eason’s worst ‘live’ performance!  Oh and Raymond Lam (林峰) – may I ask what he was doing jumping around back and forth on the stage?  And that ‘Nice’ phrase is really starting to make people feel uneasy.

Fortunately, Hong Kong still has Jacky Cheung.  His near flawless performance brought those who listened [to him sing] to the point of tears.

Please stop saying that all the illegal downloading of music on the internet caused the HK music industry to ‘deteriorate’ to its current state!    If the quality of today’s singers and songs could reach even 80% of the level back then [80s and 90s], I’m sure you and I would readily go out and spend money buying albums.


Chinese version:

頭條論: 聽出眼淚







  1. Truthfully I didn't care much for the award they were giving Jacky, just an excuse to hear him sing at an award show! Amazing as always. Too bad I don't like HK if not I'd love to go watch his concert! Jacky can just standing there and sing, and will still have so much presence with his voice! I guess it's the influence of my dad, his favorites from Heavenly Kings are Jacky Cheung and Andy Lau =P

    1. @sport3888: Haha...so true! Hey, if giving a meaningless award means that HK audiences get to hear Jacky sing live, I bet no one will object to giving him the award. And lucky for those artists who were there that night -- they all got a "free" live performance from Jacky!

      Also, judging by all the artists who were 'fighting' to take pictures with Jacky backstage (Weibo was pretty much flooded with celebrities uploading their pictures with Jacky...haha!), the 'moment' was definitely well worth it!

  2. HK has dropped (quality) in terms of not just music but also movies. IMO, most of the music and movies are trash. Just dont deserved my money to buy or watch them in the cinema any more. Did you watch Telling Maria? There is one segment that she was interviewing Koo Tin Lok and KTL said that there are no more (new) movie stars in HK. The current ones are actually old ones that debut back in the 1980s/90s and they are getting older...while audiences are getting tired of seeing the same ppl in several movies or tv dramas at the same time. Same with the music scenes. There are not a lot of songs that I can considered classics coming out in 2000 onwards.

    Right now, the only singers that I will buy albums are from Jacky, Eason and Khalil Fong.

    1. @fangorn: Yup...the movie industry has 'gone to the dogs' just like the music industry has...honestly, I can't remember the last time I actually watched a HK movie (ok, maybe the last one was Jacky's Crossing Hennessy) -- compared with back in the 80s/90s when I watched HK movies almost as "religiously" as I watched TVB series and also listened to HK music....

      Yup, I saw that particular Telling Maria interview with Louis Koo -- I actually liked the interview he did because alot of the stuff he said was so true and I agreed with alot of it. The whole issue of the HK entertainment industry not having anyone capable enough to take over for the older stars is a problem that everyone has been complaining about for years -- some worry that this might mean the HK entertainment will cease to exist in another 20/30/40 years when the actual 'stars' from the 70s/80s/90s either die off or retire and there's no one to take their place....very sad...

      Pretty much nowadays, the only albums I'll buy are Jacky's ...outside of that, the only other 'albums' I buy are those special edition compilation albums (containing songs from various artists) that come out every once in awhile or certain artists' concert DVDs (though I guess those don't really count since those aren't 'albums')...

      And of course, the ONLY artist I am actually willing to spend big bucks watching live in concert is Jacky (getting to watch him sing live is worth every penny of the $300+ that I had to pay for the concert ticket!)...anyone else is pretty much a waste of money and time for me (especially since I'm in the U.S. and not a whole lot of artists come here for concerts in the first place).

    2. Y'know, I have this theory but not sure if it is correct. I think the decline of the current HK movie stars were due to TVB or should I say - the TVB acting classes. Ever since they changed their format of training from 1+ year to 3 months, I think that's one of the reasons. Why? Looked at all the current batch of HK film actors - they are all somehow related to TVB acting classes. All of them, with the exception of beauty pagent participants, are, if Im not wrong, graduated from those acting classes. Another thing is I think, TVB itself are to blame for the drop in qualities because the scriptwriters and/or directors all have their "training" in TVB dramas.

      Oh, I need to correct my earlier posting... those 3 singers are the only Chinese singers that I buy their albums. I do buy other singers' album but they are Korean/Japanese singers.

      I did go to Khalil's concert this year but his concert is more into the music appreciation part (he played multiple musical instruments) than songs (not that he can't sing but compare to Jacky... :) )...

      As for Jacky's, I did go to his concerts last year (both in HK and in Msia) but didn't go this year (he came back because he was not satisfied with his 2011 Msia concerts - sick)...well that is because I have no concert money after paying a lot for a Korean concert (Big Bang) and Khalil Fong's. I wonder when is he releasing his concert DVD...any idea?

      Oh...thanks for the youtube clip - downloaded it and now it is in my phone :D

    3. @fangorn: Haha...I've actually had the same "theory" before as well, though I wouldn't say that TVB was entirely to blame (yes, they had a hand in the demise of the industry but there were other factors as well). I've said in the past that I feel TVB contributed greatly to the 'decline' of the music industry because they continually push their artists into becoming singers when many of them can't sing properly if their lives depended on it (just look at all the so-called actors/actresses turned singers that TVB has 'churned out' in the past few years and you'll see what I mean). Sadly though, a huge part of this is also ingrained in HK culture and unless majority of HK audiences are willing to accept change, I really don't see the industry turning around any time soon.

      LOL...well, since I'm not interested in any other country's entertainment, I don't have to worry about spending all my money on those artists...plus I usually save up money for Jacky's concert anyway. Lucky that you go to go to Jacky's HK concert - since I'm in the U.S., I only get to go whenever he comes to Las Vegas to perform (which isn't often)....one of these days (if Jacky does another world tour concert), I really should go see one of his shows in HK!

      As for Jacky's concert DVD - well, you're in luck because his musical director Andrew Tuason (he's the guy you see playing the piano at all his concerts) just posted on his Weibo a few days ago that we won't have too long to wait for the DVD to come out....our guess is that the DVD will probably be released around Chinese New Year time (in the days before or after it). So definitely crossing my fingers hoping it is true....

      You're welcome....I saved the clip as well! :0)

    4. TVB singers are >_< but currently they are using those singers from that talent singing competition, right? New singers' names that I dont recognised.

      Well, I dont think HK audience is willing to accept change (yet). They didnt complain about the many mundance and downright boring plot(s) that TVB keep churning for years ~~ Remember "When Heaven Burns" drama was airing - they even complained about the so-called "cannabalism" theme in the drama! When I watched that particular episode (that part where they showed the 3 of them killing Ka Ming and implying the eating part afterwards etc) - I was like it's not even gory - what's to complain about ??? LOL, they should seen some of those US indie horror films - those are gory at the extreme level. Then currently they are complaining about rape scenes ???

      You should go to his HK concerts. Usually he would sing a lot more Cantonese songs. You can also greet him, shake his hands, give him gifts about 4 hours before the concert because he would go in to the stadium near the side entrance in the afternoon (3-5pm) and he would also do the "praying" ceremony near that entrance.

      The last time I went there (2011), I went for 2 days. But it was not a good time because he was not feeling well due to the funeral of Tang Kwong Weng (he was wearing the funeral black suits). The 2nd day I didnt see him because I have to go to watch the stars at red carpet for the HK film awards and it was raining in the evening.

      However, my fondest encore part of all his concerts was one in Malaysia where he sang until well over 12.30 am (concert started around 8:30pm something). I think the encore part was over 1 hours' time. :P

      Did Mr. Tuason said anything about Blu-ray ? :) not sure when the dvd will arrive in M'sia.

  3. I wouldn't say that the focus of singers was just solely that of making good music - but also enjoying it. And to actually make money, good music is not only desirable, it's actually required. As for getting awards, they're nothing but a centerpiece that holds absolutely no value or prestige. I mean you're not seriously going to tell me that Joey Yung is in the same league as Sally Yeh or Sandy Lam. She just gets the awards each year due to good connections and because the industry currently lacks anyone better than her at this point in time. But we all know there is talent that surpasses Joey; we just haven't had the fortune to see or hear them yet.

    It's really odd how the 'enhanced' recordings can never beat the live performances of the 'superstar generation'. In fact, their live singing voies are usually even better than their recorded versions. And the distinctive voices bit is true but I'd also like to add in that many of those with the 'super voices' had undeniable charisma and charm that audiences couldn't resist. A lot of 'idols' lack this charm that made the superstars so loveable.

    We all know that the piracy of music is a load of hooplah. I wouldn't even want a Twins CS if you gave it to me for free. The thing is, the industry needs to push out their entertainment online - Youtube, iTunes, some on demand service for TV stations. But they refuse to do this. But that's a different story altogether. It isn't the illegal downloading. I wouldn't download crap like that anyway. I mean if people don't download your crap for free, how do you expect to even sell it?

    You're right about the lack of the family aspect though. Or teamwork at the very least. Sadly, it's right across the whole entertainment industry, not just the music industry.

    And this point about so few songs to even pick from these past few years. Amen to that sister. As far as I was concerned, I thought they only had those 10 songs for this whole year. I guess I should consider myself lucky because I was spared from the bad performances (didn't watch it). And yes, the nice phrase makes me cringe. But I did catch the Jacky performance - very smooth indeed. I was kind of hoping he wouldn't do the jazz arrangement thing again and a quick number. I guess that was just be a little too wishful of me.

    I think I'm turning senile here. Rant off. But thanks for this llwy12. And thank you to Jacky for his consistent performances - giving all our ears a break!