Sun, May 29, 2005 - Page 17 News List

The red carpet rolls out for Golden Melody Awards

The Chinese pop music industry's equivalent of the Grammy Awards was full of stars despite cloudy weather and some rain

By Max Woodworth  /  STAFF REPORTER

Above, Sun Shu-mei was elected best Taiwanese female singer. Top, Jay Chou.

A late afternoon thunderstorm interrupted the red-carpet celebrations, but otherwise the 16th Golden Melody Awards took place yesterday without a hitch in Kaohsiung, declaring the year's queens and kings of Chinese-language pop music.

The nominees this year in the popular music categories contained many familiar faces, including Jay Chou (周杰倫), Stanley Huang (黃立行), Biung (王宏恩), Wang Lee-hom (王力宏), Stefanie Sun (孫燕姿) and Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹). This year, however, Sheng Xiang and Water 3 (生祥與瓦窯3), a Hakka band, was honored with the most nominations -- seven -- more even than the perennial Golden Melody winner Chou, who this year had six nominations.

Following through on their many nominations, Sheng Xiang and Water 3 took one of the evening's first popular music awards, handed to Chung Yung-feng (鍾永豐) for best lyricist.

Speaking backstage after being handed the award, Chung said, "The fact that I've won this award shows the importance that society now places on the Hakka and other minority groups. This gives me a really great feeling of acceptance." The band later also won the Best Hakka Album Award.

The Golden Melody Awards the Chinese pop music industry's equivalent of the Grammy Awards in the US are held annually to award professionals making music in Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka and any of Taiwan's Aboriginal languages. A 36-judge panel is assembled by the Government Information Office, which sponsors the awards.

This year, awards were given in a total of 33 categories, 22 of them in pop music and 11 in classical, tribal, religious and children's music, as well as a special award to honor someone for lifetime achievement in the musical arts. This year's nominees were drawn from 6,208 entrees.

Before the evening's proceedings, thousands of teenagers had braved the intermittent rain showers, crowding the area in front of the city's monumental cultural center to see their favorite stars enter the venue in one of the event's most anticipated rituals. Wang Lee-hom wowed the crowds in a full white get-up decked out with hip-hop-style shiny jewelry and mirror sunglasses.

Most of the grand entrances, however, were of the glamor variety, with men and women alike dressed in classy formal wear. Stanley Huang (黃立行) and Gigi Leung (梁詠琪) were the popular favorites on the red carpet, eliciting ear-splitting roars from the throngs of teenagers.

Two of the ceremony's three hostesses Lin Chih-ling (林志玲) and Patty Hou (侯佩岑) also drew gasps on the red carpet. Lin appeared in an ethnic dress wearing about NT$17 million of Harry Winston jewelry, while Hou dazzled with an uncharacteristically racy open-back dress and bedecked with about NT$25 million of Harry Winston jewelry. Later, Lin and Hou performed a Moulin Rouge-themed dance routine that heated things up and elicited a hilarious grin from Hou's boyfriend Jay Chou sitting in the audience that was broadcast live.

The third hostess, popular TV show presenter Momoko Tao (陶子), chose a different tack and started the evening off by appearing on stage in a panda outfit. She struck several awkward notes during the ceremony, however, by mimicking Aboriginal singers' accents and making off-color remarks about their dancing, singing and drinking skills.

That move broke the ice for a uniquely smooth and upbeat ceremony, despite the continued downward trend of album sales that plagues Taiwan's music industry.

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