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Top 10 foreign songs often played in China

Popularity 25Viewed 14118 times 2015-4-7 15:52 |Personal category:Culture|System category:Life| foreign songs, China, Lady Gaga, Avril Lavigne

The Chinese peopl love to sing. In China, certain English songs seem to be constantly ringing in your ears everywhere you go, be it a supermarket, restaurant or tea house. And I am not talking about a bit of decent Death Metal either. Cutesy, bland, anodyne pop-songs are very much the order of the day. Some of these Western songs become so prolific as to  enjoy far more popularity in China than they ever did in their country of origin.  People sing these songs in KTVs, download them to their music players, even hum them in public places such as on the subway or at the bus stops. So, here are 10 English songs that are played across the nation.


1. “Let It Go [Frozen]” by Idina Menzel, 2013


The song originally performed by a Broadway star Idina Menzel won over the hearts of the Chinese, well, teenagers and their parents anyway. “Let it go”  is played internationally and is not disappearing without a fight: the Oscar-winning Frozen soundtrack stayed No. 1 album in the US for nine weeks.  No wonder, it appeals to the girls so much. The Snow Queen Elsa, who is in the original Anderson fairy-tale serves as a villain, turns into a rebel in the movie, craving for freedom. Girl power indeed. Let’s have a quick look at those rather Shakespearian lyrics:


Let it go, let it go!
Can’t hold it back any more.
Let it go, let it go!
Turn away and slam the door.
I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway.


2. “The Fox (What Does The Fox Say)” by Ylvis, 2013


Played by a Norwegian ‘comedy’ duo, the song can be heard in China’s markets or on the streets. The song was so popular that the band members went on to punish children by publishing a children’s book based on the song. The ditty was so popular in China, that two British laowai, or, to be more precise, two hosts from comedy news show C4 Rob Hemsley and Stuart Wiggin, dressed in panda costumes and made a parody video “The Panda 熊猫叫”. The video was staged at one of the Beijing parks, Zizhuyuan park, famous for its bamboo trees.  In the weeks since its launch, the video has been watched by over half a million people on various online platforms.


3.  ”Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga, 2009


Though the craze for Lady Gaga, or 女神卡卡 [nǚshén kǎkǎ]  has already cooled, you will still hear some catchy tunes from Lady Gaga played at various spots in China, either remixed or their original versions. She was named one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes magazine and one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine. “Voice of China” star 吳莫愁 was dubbed the Chinese Lady Gaga.

Oh, my Lady Gaga!


4. “Someone Like You” by Adelle, 2011


Another internationally loved female star has also found massive popularity in China. Her single “Someone Like You” and “Rolling in the Deep” both topped the billboards in the US in 2011. In China, “Someone Like You” was a hit in karaoke bars and still is.


5. ‘I want it that way” by “Backstreet Boys”, 1999


Good old “Backstreet Boys” music dies hard in China. From Wudaokou to Sanlitun, it is played in clothing shops, and their remixed versions can be heard in night clubs too. A year ago  the band visited China and made a cameo in the well-known show “Voice of China” [中国好声音], and “I Want It That Way” was one of they songs they performed. Interestingly enough, despite the people’s love of their songs, when not on the stage, they are simply not recognized. When in Nanjing with a performance, they joined a basketball game at Nanjing Arts Institute where they were taken for strangers.


6. “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt, 2005


James Blunt, former British Army captain, and one of the world’s most annoying men isthe popular song-writer and singer who performed at Beijing MasterCard center on January 4 this year as a part of his Moon Landing tour. Beijing as well as Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Hong Kong were all on his tour list this year. We’re sure James Blunt’s fans used this chance to enjoy the “You’re beautiful” song to its fullest.


7. “What Makes You Beautiful” by “One Direction”, 2011


Another “beautiful” song caught the Chinese listener’s attention. Played by Anglo-Irish boy band One Direction, the song became the debut single from their album “Up All Night” (2011) and instantly gathered vast popularity. Chinese music-lovers fell a victim to the dreadful song, which can now be heard across the nation.


 8. “Lemon Tree” by Fool’s Garden, 1995


Another karaoke king, pretty much everyone in the nation under 35 knows the words to this one, regardless of whether they speak English or not, and nobody knows why. A quick internet search tells me that the actual Lemon Tree, i.e. Citrus limon is actually native to China. So, it was clearly patriotism all along. Who knew?


 9. “Trouble Is a Friend” by Lenka, 2009


The stunning video and simple lyrics quickly found their place in Chinese people’s hearts. Lenka was born in Australia, but has Czech origin.

10. “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne, 2007


RIght after release, the song became a hit with the audience. Written by Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne, the song  was a worldwide success. Probably, girls in China familiarize with the lyrics that made this song so big in China. It tells about Avril’s protagonist who has a crush on a boy who is in relationships.


Apart from those ten songs mentioned above, there are a lot of other catchy English songs that are played in various places in China.


You may leave a comment if you have any suggestions on what English  (or foreign) songs you hear most in China.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Friends who just made a statement (4 Person)

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Comment Comment (11 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2015-4-7 17:07
thanks for conclusion here, we would like to share it with more readers.
Reply Report 冰封世界 2015-4-7 18:35
yesterday once more
Reply Report anastasiasuli 2015-4-7 19:12
voice_cd: thanks for conclusion here, we would like to share it with more readers.
Thank you, as I also want to hear the opinion of others :-)
Reply Report A_Blue_Sky 2015-4-7 19:29
i can sing 6 songs above
Reply Report A_Blue_Sky 2015-4-7 19:52
better in time/ beat it/ innocence/    i like taylor swift, Avirl,  sara conor, Jennifer, Asher book, Celin dion etc.  oh my gosh so many stars... recently i love FEEL THE LIGHT by Jennifer Lopez
Reply Report seanboyce88 2015-4-7 20:26
I dislike a lot of chinese pop music, but minus 小苹果which is the worst song ever created, I dislike even more this type of western pop.

Where is Indie music, Rock, punk, metal, rave, dubstep, anything....other than pop or cheesy dance...It all hurts my ears.
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2015-4-7 20:38
In karaoke, "the end of the world", "right here waiting", "sailing", "words", plus some oldies like "san Francisco", "Massachusetts", and of course "what a wonderful world" of Louise Amstrong are all "included but not limited to" in my portfolio.
Reply Report mixamixa 2015-9-20 22:47
Celine Dion: My heart will go on. Enough said.
Reply Report Boy.Hollywood 2015-9-21 00:53
Linkin Park and Taylor Swift, those two seemed to heat up mainland China, along with those you listed of course.
Reply Report jaseminsibo 2015-9-22 15:06
so romantic!
Reply Report mbursian 2016-1-7 23:36
A couple months ago I heard an older Bob Dylan tune on the radio... and I thought, that's cool.  I'm in my very early sixties and grew up on Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, etc.  I was also pleased that Dylan toured China in 2011.  I wished that I could've made the trip to Beijing for one of the performances.  Before coming to China, I would always catch one of his performances when he toured near my home.

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