Kings & Queens of the Asian Music Scene

On the billboards, television commercials and even a bag of chips in Asia, these artists can be called the kings and queens of Asian pop-music. This piece also appeared in the Fall 2009 issue.

By Jonathan Chan

Jay Chou – Chinese

Ever since Jay Chou, nicknamed “President Chou,” debuted in 2000, he has established a style of music where those of the East and West fuse.  The Taiwanese artist is a singer, songwriter, composer, actor, director and, most recently, a record producer.  Top American R&B Producer, Wyclef Jean, has praised Chou as a “true musician.”  Chou will soon be making his American movie debut in the adaptation of the superhero flick, “The Green Hornet,” as Kato, the martial arts expert to the Green Hornet, played by Seth Rogan.  The film is set to be released in 2010.

Listen To: “Listen to Mom’s Words
Runner Up: Rochester native and perfect-SAT test taker, Wang Lee Hom.

A-mei (Zhang Hui Mei) – Chinese

A-mei has conquered the Mandopop scene since her debut in 1997.  Her songs, filled with versatility in music genre has been sung in many television competitions by contestants.  She has also been in the Italian love-story opera, Turandot.  In the first four seasons of “One Million Star,” the Taiwanese equivalent of “American Idol,” over one-third of the competition’s contestants attempted to sing her songs.  Time Magazine also called her singing the “A-Syndrome” because of its syrupy, yet versatile tone.  Talk about idolization!

Listen To: “Yes or No
Fierce Competition: Jolin Tsai — paired up with Kylie Minogue for a duet in one of Minogue’s’ albums and has a clothing line, Seventy Two Changes, which opened shop in New York and San Francisco.

Rain – Korean

Well-known for mesmerizing audiences with his intricate dance moves, Rain has recently made an attempt to do the same for Americans.  During an MTV special, he impressed R&B artist Omarion in 2007.  Time Magazine has also named Rain one of the most influential figures.  This prompted a Dance Dance Revolution dance off with Stephen Colbert from “The Colbert Report” in which the Korean-artist won.

Listen To: “Ways to Avoid the Sun
On His Heels: Se7en who paired up with Lil’ Kim in his American debut single, “Girls.”

BoA – Korean

BoA has topped music charts in both Korea and Japan, and wowed viewers during her performance at the opening parade of the 2002 Soccer World Cup.  She has even been making her mark in the U.S. hitting #8 on the Billboard Dance Charts with her debut English track, “Eat You Up,” where she paired up with Flo’ Rida for the remix.

Listen To: “Atlantis Princess
The Future: The Wonder Girls who recently finished touring with the Jonas Brothers and will attempt an English album soon.

Ken Hirai – Japanese

Girls all over the world would happily serve this king of Japanese and Caucasian descent.  In addition to their hearts, he has won many MTV Japan Best Male Video awards.  Although he releases albums less often than most artists in the Japanese industry, Hirai has fared well hitting either the number one or number two position on the Oricon charts, proving his true success.

Listen To: “Rakuen” (Paradise)

Ayumi Hamasaki – Japanese

Ever since her debut 10 years ago, Ayumi Hamasaki has been the “it-girl,” setting multiple records on Japan’s Oricon charts.  According to the Oricon charts, she is “the first artist to have an album debut at number-one for 11 consecutive years.”  Her style and fashion-forward image has been recognized worldwide.

Listen To: “Poker Face
Her Competition: New York-born Utada Hikaru, who sang the theme song to video game, Kingdom Hearts.

A.R. Rahman and Sonu Nigam (tie) – Indian

As a producer, Rahman has mass appeal inside and outside of Bollywood, and was named Time’s “Mozart of Madras.”  In 2009, he worked on the soundtrack of the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” and produced “Jai Ho” with the Pussycat Dolls.  On the other hand, Nigam has been the male singer to beat in India.  He completed an English album in 2004, adding another language to his songs in Hindi, Daelugu and Punjabi dialects.

Listen To: “Mera Rang Da” (produced by Rahman and sung by Nigam)

Lata Mangeshkar – Indian

This 80-year-old singer is a true legend in the industry.  She used to have the Guinness World Record for most recordings with 30,000 songs released.  She has sung in 20 Indian dialects and has received international acclaim.  Her song “Wod Na Tod” was featured in the movie, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

Listen To: “Mere Naina Sawan Bhadon
Sibling Rivalry: Asha Bhosle is Lata’s younger sister.  The Black Eyed Peas have sampled her song before they recorded their song, “Don’t Phunk With My Heart.”

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