Thu, Apr 27, 2000 - Page 11 News List

Golden melodies

At this year's 11th Golden Melody Awards, Aboriginal music, group performances and mainland Chinese bands will draw some of the spotlight away from Taiwan's better known pop idols.

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

There's Web wrangling over it. Radio and TV stations are barraging audiences with the hits of potential winners. And Taiwan's tabloid media are tripping over themselves to report whom will be this year's most-talked about celebrity couple attending the event.

It must be time for the 11th Golden Melody Awards (金曲獎) Taiwan's equivalent of the US Grammies. All of the island's top talent will turn out for the Friday night event Wubai, A-mei, Faye Won and some of Asia's most successful musicians will be coming in from China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.

In the onslaught of pre-press, most of the hype has focused on Aboriginal nominees and group performances, the latter of which signals a drift in popularity from the usual solo pop artists that have dominated Taiwan's market.

Big bands break in

Bands like Mayday (五月天), Backquarter (四分衛) Luan-tan (亂彈) and Tolaku (脫拉庫) have emerged from the "underground" scene of dark, smoky pubs to vie for this year's Best Performance Group honor. The nominations have all but ended their underground status as record sales soared when news got out of their GMA contender status.

Three or four years ago, bands were hardly en vogue in Taiwan's pop music market, where groups had been seen as "poison" for record sales among producers and record companies. The only survivors were Wubai and his China Blue band and the Hong Kong-based group Beyond, said Ken Wu (吳健恆), a deejay for Broadcasting Corporation of China.

But the success of Wubai, nicknamed Taiwan's "King of Live," set spurs to the local music industry. Wu said record companies began eagerly looking for good bands, because they knew that foreign music culture was stimulating the local scene and diversifying the tastes of music fans.

What:

The 11th Golden Melody Awards

Where:

Dr Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

When:

Friday, 6:50pm. TVBS-G will also offer live coverage


"Just like the political power transition after the presidential election, Taiwan's popular music scene is undergoing a power transition period," said music critic Jamie Won (翁嘉銘).

It's a shift evident in the evolution of the GMA's. The event, once known as the "Good Songs For Everyone" awards (好歌大家唱), used to be little more than a vehicle for social purification and propaganda. Nowadays, the GMA's have become a mega-party for celebrities of the popular music industry in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

"The Golden Melody Awards is getting closer to reflecting what kinds of music have been popular in the past year," Won said.

Another trend on display this year is the love of live performances. "What is popular today?" asks Won. "Having the capacity to give awesome live performances."

In other words, idol singers are no longer the equivalent of booming record sales. Just take a look at Taipei's KTV hit charts, where Wubai and Luan Tan's rock songs are as and sometimes more popular than ballad songs.

"Popular music is a business of the youth, and a business of change," Won said. "This explains why new artists sell better than old stars."

Aborigines' voices heard

Another sea change is demonstrated in the attention given aboriginal music and performers these days. The popularity of singers with aborigine background started three years ago when A-mei (張惠妹), the Puyuma girl from Taitung, emerged from obscurity to become one of Asia's top pop stars. The nomination of Samingad (Chih Hsiao-chun, 紀曉君) and Chen Chian-nien (陳建年), Samingad's uncle, for the 11th GMA, can be seen as an affirmation of Aboriginal musical achievement.

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