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Ten Popular But NOT Beautiful Chinese Female Singers

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Super Girl Final Three

Three finalists of "Super Girl" singing competition, 2005

In 2004 Shmuley Boteach – once a close friend of Michael Jackson – wrote an interesting comment about another pop-star, Madonna:

Before Madonna, it was possible for women more famous for their voices than their cleavage – like the beautiful Ella Fitzgerald and the divinely talented Barbra Streisand – to emerge as music superstars. But in the post-Madonna universe, even highly original performers like Janet Jackson now feel the pressure to expose their bodies on television in order to sell albums.

Indeed, looking at the modern female singers, one might think that good looks and sexy body are more important than singing abilities for success. This tendency is truly international and Chinese female singers are not spared from it.

And if “simple mortals” resort to plastic surgery as means of increasing their value in the labor market, it’s understandable that singers find themselves under huge pressure to fit even stricter standards of beauty and sexual appeal. Sometimes it ends sadly – as in the case of Wang Bei, an aspiring performer, who just wanted to get a more pointed face shape and died during plastic surgery.

So, today I invite you to check out an unusual top 10 list. It will feature 10 female Chinese singers who are NOT known to be beautiful and for that reason I assume they are popular firstly due to their singing talents. I suppose that blog readers might find some of the girls in this list to be quite good-looking, but take in account that this list was compiled basing on the opinions of Chinese netizens. Thus, let’s attribute any disagreements to cultural difference in beauty perceptions.

1. Chen Jiahua, also known as Ella is one of three members of popular Taiwanese girl band S.H.E. (see my other post about Chinese singers to listen to one of their songs). In one of their interviews the girls coquettishly claimed: “We are the fattest girl group in history, we don’t need sexiness to succeed.”

Chen Jiahua

Chen Jiahua

2. Ding Wei is extremely talented. Her musical repertoire ranges from pop to jazz and for many of her songs she writes music and lyrics by herself. Maybe this is also the reason why she hasn’t produced so many albums over 15 years of her musical career. Ding Wei is one of the favorite singers of my fiancé and he asked me to include one of her songs here. You will find it in the end of this post.

Ding Wei

Ding Wei

3. Han Hong is not your regular slim Chinese girl. But it didn’t prevent her from being recognized as best female artist from mainland China in 2004 and 2006 (in 2005 by the way Ding Wei was crowned with this title). Some people say that she owes her wonderful voice to her mother who belongs to Tibetan minority.

Han Hong

Han Hong

4. He Yunshi came to prominence after winning the annual competition for new Chinese singers in Hong Kong in 1996. She then became an apprentice of another famous Hong Kong singer Mei Yanfang (Anita Mui) who won the first installment of the same competition in 1982! In the beginning of her career He Yunshi sparked a lot of controversy by often touching the topic of homosexuality in her songs.

He Yunshi

He Yunshi

5. Huang Qishan for many years tried to make a breakthrough in musical career but wasn’t successful. Her devotion for singing and beautiful voice were not matched by beautiful appearance and it was the main reason of her failures. Huang Qishan almost gave up but fortunately was noticed by Chen Ziqiu – general manager of the recording company who signed contract with the singer and described her as the “most perfect voice of Asia”.

Huang Qishan

Huang Qishan

6. Li Yuchun became popular after winning the singing competition Super Girl in 2005. The competition was marred by controversy because many people thought that Li Yuchun won the SMS voting mainly due to her “rebellious” behavior (boyish hairstyle and coolness) that resonated with Chinese youth.

Li Yuchun

Li Yuchun

7. Mo Wenwei is maybe not beautiful but she is definitely a very sexy woman. And she knows how to present herself in the best light. As many successful Chinese performers Mo Wenwei combines singing career with acting. She is also a notable advocate of animal rights.

Mo Wenwei

Mo Wenwei

8. Sun Yue had a breakthrough in 1994 with the signature song “I wish you peace”. Since then she always stayed in spotlight winning many prestigious awards. In 2008 Sun Yue was the only female singer who participated both in opening and closing ceremonies of Beijing Olympic Games.

Sun Yue

Sun Yue

9. Tian Zhen is the famous Beijing-born singer who debuted in 1984. In 1995 she released the first collection of hits which set the Chinese record of most album copies sold. In 1996 “Beijing Youth Daily” called her the most popular Chinese female singer.

Tian Zhen

Tian Zhen

10. Zhou Hui was often described as Su Yongkang (male singer) with the voice of Faye Wong (diva of Chinese pop music). Because of her looks the recording company – at least in the beginning of her career – often used cartoon images instead of Zhou Hui’s own pictures in videos for songs.

Zhou Hui

Zhou Hui

***

 

  • http://moominhouse.blogspot.com moom

    About half of those look OK to good.

  • Teacher in China

    Ahhh, pop music… no matter what part of the world you’re in, it’s still appearance over substance.

  • whatwhome

    Is that Jane Zhang in between the two tomboyish ones? I went to look up those two…for the life of me I can’t understand how Jane did not win.

    Response to Number 1: WTH? What is the link between being skinny and sexy? Well, none of the SHE members could pull off sexy, anyway. lol

    Numbers 2, 4, 7, and 8 look quite ok to me. But the Asian standard of beauty in Asia[I have realized from a Chinese classmate] is quite stringent and sometimes foreign to my Asian American eyes.

    • http://www.lovelovechina.com Crystal

      Yes, that is Jane Zhang.
      I remember that in the aftermath of that competition many thought that either second or third finalist were better than Li Yuchun.

    • doc

      Because most of people who voted watches this show are young girls, and young girl like boys and if not possible boyish girls. But Jane have the probably the most successful career out of all the girls and boys from this competition so far. btw, she just had a new album released along with a new mv.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Os2QXJqMiL4

  • Django

    Li Yuchun, or Xiao Yao Ming as I prefer to call her, is a lousy singer. She can’t carry a tune. She won that competition because she was something different. She “danced” during her performances and the audience ate it up, but her dancing was only slightly better than her awful singing. As far as having a voice she was by far the worst of the finalists.

    Mo Wenwei is an enigma. Sometimes she looks spectacular and other times just awful. She is a talented actress and she has an indescribable charm. She is very good at comedy as well as drama. I’m surprised she didn’t take a shot at Hollywood since her English is perfect. I always found it amusing that China is far more open to their entertainers crossing media venues than we in the west. Its rare that a singer can make it as an actress or vice versa here.

    • scarlet

      No disagreement about vocal talent, but I think Li Yuchun is quite pretty. She’s like this adorable little thing trying to look butch but failing on account of cuteness, which is cute in of itself. Just check out her Wikipedia page and tell me which picture doesn’t look immediately hug-able.

  • http://www.chinawhisper.com/ Peter

    Beautiful girls only pay more attentions on their looks, and less on their singing skills, besides, most fans are common people and not beautiful right, they like to vote for pop stars as common as them at least on appearance. just like Sunhonglei, actually a very ugly person but very famous.

  • Lily

    Among these 10 singers, I like the voice of Ella, Hanhong and Zhouhui. ;-)

  • korean_guy

    A lot of Chinese women have the gross “butch-lesbian” look; one look at them is the fastest way to lose an erection.

    Chinese women need to learn how to apply good make-up, hair, and fashion.

    • Guy

      You mean Chinese women should all have surgery to have cookie cutter faces like Korean women.

      • korean_guy

        Even surgery from Korea can’t make Chinese girls look like Korea women, even cookie cutter.

        My point is even if they are not good looking they can benefit from good make-up and hair style. The whacked out butch style for many Chinese girls gotta go!

        • mikkiji

          And why do they gotta go? To please you? If they like dressing like tomboys, they can continue doing it. The world doesn’t revolve around you, they’re not going to change their style just because you said so.

  • http://www.themailorderbridessite.com/ Phil B

    These girls are quite cute, but not quite as cute as the many KPop girls that are becoming hugely popular in China!

    I also love Jolin, but I guess she’s far too cute for this list :grin:

  • korean_guy

    Chinese women need to take serious cue from Japanese women. What makes Japanese women appealing isn’t their physical looks (most are not that pretty), but it’s their choice of fashion and their demeanor: they dress extremely well and have feminine demeanor: two things most Chinese women lack. Chinese women may or may not be pretty, but their extremely shitty demeanor and carelessness to feminine fashion sense is a huge turn off.

    • Soldano

      I agree totally. Plus most chinese men actually admit prfering the cute type.
      Korean pop star are the worts, all about the look, 0% talent.

      In the west ? Well think Amy Winehouse, Rihanna, they are not considered really good looking at all. Beyonce wasn’t always as slim as she is now, and Ths Gossip is certainly not an asian band. And Madonna ? Was she ever, really ? I believe that while looks are taken into account here, they do NOT subsitute talent. No matter how hard you try here, a fake artist never lasts.

  • Nick

    Han Hong has a beautiful voice. The first time I saw a video of her, my first reaction was “Is that a guy?” Then I heard her sing and I knew she was woman with what I would call “an unfortunate haircut”. Gorgeous voice, though.

    And what is wrong with Zhou Hui’s looks? I think she’s attractive. She certainly has a lovely smile. She looks like a pleasant person.

  • Nick

    Those outfits in the “Super Girl” competition photo are horrid, and even still the lady in the middle is pretty. The other two look like they’re trying to look like boys.

    Some of the ones in Crystal’s list are too pretty – they don’t look real.

    • JY

      Maybe because they are trying to look more boyish. They’re both tomboys.

      • korean_guy

        JY

        “Maybe because they are trying to look more boyish.”

        Must be that! It also looks like they’ve given up on trying to look pretty or feminine. You call it tomboy and I call it butch-lesbo.

        • http://www.magnoliaarts.com TLB

          One difference, korean_guy, is that “tomboy” is not insulting but “butch-lesbo” is. I’m guessing you were meaning to be insulting…

          • korean_guy

            TLB

            ““tomboy” is not insulting but “butch-lesbo” is”

            Be that as it may I’ve seen women with “tomboy” looks and them Chinese above aren’t tomboy style, they are butch-lesbo.

            “I’m guessing you were meaning to be insulting…”

            No. They just look butch-lesbo.

            • http://www.lovelovechina.com Crystal

              Dear “korean_guy”.

              I hope you understand that your comments do not insult Chinese but rather paint you personally in non-flattering light.

              By the way, I really doubt that you are Korean. If I would be Korean I’d be offended by that ;-)

              • korean_guy

                Crystal

                “I hope you understand that your comments do not insult Chinese…”

                Good, no insult was intended.

                If I was in an China insulting mood everyone here would know it.

                BUT the fact Chinese can’t take legitimate criticism remains and is indicative of their mental immaturity. Chinese cry FOUL at any negative comment their way. China need to grow up.

                The fact is fashion sensibility is pretty much non existent in most Chinese, men and women. Calling the women above tomboy doesn’t change the fact that their short a la Katie Lang-esque butchy style is horrendous.

                If you want to open up discussion on the web learn to take the good with the bad.

                “I really doubt that you are Korean. If I would be Korean I’d be offended by that.”

                Why because Koreans would never insult of criticize China? Don’t be silly.

                • http://www.magnoliaarts.com ZhuBaJie

                  Everyone everywhere has a “fashion sensibility.” Every culture takes things from other cultures and then interprets them in its own way, changes them as it sees fit, and goes from there.

                  Thus, Rock and Roll came from white people’s “misunderstanding” and “inability” to do Rhythm and Blues “correctly.” What resulted was a style of music that has become the basis for much of the world’s popular music. This was not a lack of sensibility — it was just a different one. You don’t have to like it, but it helps to be able to see your point of view as just one of many.

                  • korean_guy

                    ZhuBaJie

                    Even in this contemporary post-modern world we live in, where we obsessed about concocting our own personal interpretations of everything, I guarantee you “butch-lesbo” style will never never be in vogue.

  • magbest

    Can someone explain to me what are the patterns that make beautiful an Asian woman? Because I don’t see any “not beautiful” Chinese women there. Well, maybe 3 and 4 are not particular good looking, but what’s wrong with the other ones?

  • Louisa

    Saw this and automatically thought of the girls in Hang on the Box. They look like generic Chinese girls, but their attitude rocks and while I’m not the biggest fan of their music I love these girls and what they represent.

    One of their more humorous songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDCzGwbYRxc&feature=related

  • Beauty

    I really thought that your comment about mo wenwei “not beautiful” was not very nice. I also think that using cartoons instead of a womens face because of her looks is really shallow. I wonder what Chinese think beauty is suppose to look like?? i’m sure i don’t have the full picture just from reading these singer’s descriptions but i must say it just seems some people’s views on how other’s should look and what is considered beauty is just very….unrealistic (for lack of a better word) and shallow…

  • Eventuali Grumi

    extremely boring music. i was looking for music with a chinese style, these are all insipid faux western singers with nothing to commend them.