What better way to celebrate girl power than with the power of music itself?
In light of Women’s History Month and the continuing rise of C-Pop, we find that there is no better time than now to celebrate some of the most recognizable female names in Chinese entertainment.
From the hottest girl groups to the most amazing solo artists, here are the queens who now rule over the C-Pop music industry:
This nine-membered idol girl group rose to fame following their formation via iQIYI’s survival program Youth With You 2. Since their successful debut in August 2020, THE9 has achieved national recognition, earning themselves awards such as Baidu Entertainment Awards’ Best Group of the Year (2020) and Weibo’s Hottest Group of the Year (2020), among others.
Marking their success, THE9’s debut extended play (EP) Sphinx X Mystery (斯芬克斯X谜) and first full-length studio album MatriX (虚实X境) have each sold more than one million and 250,000 units respectively.
2. G.E.M. (鄧紫棋)
Known as China’s Taylor Swift, G.E.M. (short for Get Everybody Moving) is a Hong Kong-based singer globally renowned for her amazing vocal range and songwriting talents. Her rise to fame in both Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland came after placing second in the 2014 edition of the popular competition program I am a Singer.
As a testament to the popularity G.E.M. has built over the 13 years of her career, not only is she 2020’s most-streamed female artist on Spotify Taiwan, but she is also the first female Mandarin artist to have three music videos reach 100 million views on YouTube, among several other outstanding feats.
3. BonBon Girls 303 (硬糖少女303)
Composed of seven members, this sweet girl group was created with the winning trainees of Tencent’s reality survival show Produce Camp 2020. Managed by Wajiwawa Entertainment, BonBon Girls debuted on July 2020 to immediate public acclaim, selling more than 70,000 copies of their freshman EP The Law of Hard Candy (硬糖定律) within the first minute of its release.
Despite having just begun, BonBon Girls 303 has already achieved several distinctions in the music industry, being the first and fastest Chinese girl group to receive a Platinum Award EP on QQ Music in 2020. In addition to this, BonBon Girls 303 was also recognized as the “Group of the Year” by Tencent Video All-Star Night (2020).
4. Jolin Tsai (蔡依林)
Ruling over the domain of Chinese popular music is a magnificent woman named Jolin Tsai — the Queen of C-Pop. Born and raised in Taiwan, this highly acclaimed singer-songwriter caught the public eye by winning an MTV singing competition in 1998, beginning her career as a teen idol. Since then, Tsai has released a multitude of successful albums and has even been credited to have played a huge role in popularizing dance-pop as mainstream music in Mainland China.
Tsai has sold more than 25 million records in Asia, making her one of the highest top-selling recording artists in the continent. In recognition of her talents and impact on the entertainment industry, she has received no less than six Golden Melody Awards — the Chinese equivalent to the Grammy’s — and was listed among the ranks of the Forbes China Celebrity 100 for seven years (2010–2015, 2017).
SING, otherwise known as Super Impassioned Net Generation, is an eight-membered Chinese girl group formed by KuGou Music in 2015. They are particularly notable for their musical style, which infuses traditional Chinese influences into electronic dance music.
Through their unique sound, SING was able to attract great attention from the general public. The group earned themselves the Rising Popularity Award distinction on three separate occasions, being honored by the 2018 Ku Music Asian Awards, the 2018 Tencent Streaming Awards, and the 2019 China Asia Musia Festival (AMF). SING was also granted the title of Tencent Music Entertainment Awards’ “New CPOP Generation of the Year” in 2019.
6. Li Yuchun / Chris Lee (李宇春)
Chris Lee discovered instant fame after she won the Chinese singing contest Super Girl in 2005. Extremely popular among the younger generations, she is especially remembered for both her mezzo-soprano vocal range, as well as her tomboyish haircut — to the point where she was affectionately dubbed as the “Mother of the Unisex Look” in China.
Chris Lee was recognized as one of Time Magazine’s heroes in 2005 — just at the very beginning of her journey as a musical artist. Since that time, she has released nine studio albums and won several awards. Some noteworthy international merits include being the 2014 World Music Awards’ “Best Selling Chinese Artist,” the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards’ “Best Worldwide Act,” and the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards’ “Best Asian Artist.”
Originally, this Shanghai-based girl group was considered to be a branch of AKB48, a highly popular Japanese girl group notable for its multiple regional teams and “idols you can meet” concept. However, SNH48 became independent from the AKB48 franchise in 2016, instead launching its own line of sister groups and sub-units such as 7Senses, BEJ48, GNZ48, and more.
As of October 2020, SNH48’s active member roster includes 86 members, who are all ranked according to popularity by fans in the annually held General Elections. Following this system, the group has maintained a large fan following, having even sold an estimated 2 million copies of their albums in just one year (2016) and winning Weibo Night Awards’ “Most Popular Group Award” in 2017.
8. A-Mei (张惠妹)
Kulilay Amit, better known by her stage name A-Mei, is a Taiwanese Puyuma singer and record producer who made her singing debut in 1996. Globally renowned as the “Queen of Mandopop” and the “Pride of Taiwan,” A-Mei is widely celebrated for her innumerable feats in the Chinese music industry.
In addition to selling more than 50 million album records throughout her career, A-Mei has also taken home five Golden Melody Awards, with three stemming from the Best Mandarin Singer category (2002, 2010, 2015), one from Best Mandarin Album (2010), and one from Song of the Year (2010). She was also MTV Asia Awards’ Favorite Artist (Taiwan) in 2002 and 2004.
Bonus: Teresa Teng (邓丽君)
No matter what the era is, it is impossible to create a list celebrating female musical artists without including Teresa Teng. Lauded to be a cultural icon, Taiwanese national heroine and singer Teresa Teng is widely considered to be “Asia’s Eternal Queen of Pop.”
As one of the most influential figures in Asian music and pop culture, Teng’s most defining achievement is her rise as an international superstar in a time when doing so was largely unprecedented. With her multilingual works, Teng is credited for her contributions to bridging the cultural barrier between Chinese-speaking nations, leaving a legacy that many still hear today.
Want to know more about the Chinese music industry? Check out our article on what C-Pop groups to stan right here!