In Taiwan, the term “quality idol” (優質偶像) (referring to someone who is good-looking, talented, has a good education, and is almost too good to be an entertainer) usually summons up images of Wang Leehom (王力宏). Now, another name is set to join the ranks of the quality idols: William Wei Li-an (韋禮安).
Winner of the first season of the now-defunct music show Happy Sunday (快樂星期天), Wei entered the public eye just before the One Million Star (超級星光大道) reality talent show started churning out its own torrent of minor celebrities. As one of the first of this current batch of TV-created idols, Wei will present a themed evening entitled Climbing the Wall to Become an Idol (爬上這牆當偶像), in which he will pay tribute to the different generations of idols in pop history. Wei will perform songs by Taiwanese idol Jimmy Lin (林志穎) and Usher, in addition to tunes he wrote himself.
With his matinee idol good looks and as a bona fide singer-songwriter, Wei captured the admiration of many fans upon his television debut in 2006. After his Happy Sunday triumph, Wei avoided the conventional route of immediately releasing an album, opting instead to return to his studies at National Taiwan University. He has spent the past two years performing at live house venues, writing songs for the likes of Rene Liu (劉若英) and Angela Chang (張韶涵), and releasing his first EP Waiting Slowly (慢慢等) in March this year.
In a phone interview, Wei explained his decision to put his career on hold: “I was exhausted after the half year in competition. It was both the stress and the attention. I wanted a break.”
Wei said he managed to return to a normal life quite quickly as he did not go out of his way to be recognized. “I think all the packaging for an idol can make them very vulnerable and they can break easily,” he said. “I wanted to build a firm foundation [before embarking on a full career].”
Wei’s period of hibernation will soon end. His compositions on the indie music site tw.streetvoice.com have for the past two years ranked in the top 10. Waiting Slowly, the title track from his EP, debuted at No. 2 on www.kkbox.com.tw without much promotion. Wei is scheduled to release his first full-length album during the Lunar New Year holiday.
Audiences can expect songs that ride high on emotionally poignant lyrics and infectious melodies, the hallmarks of Wei’s music.
“I enjoy pop and lean towards music that is melody driven. My music has broadened from early emotional experience to observation of social events these days.”
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