Li keeps working to find 'her' music

Updated: 2014-09-16 15:42

By Chen Nan(China Daily USA)

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As more than 400 fans scream her name, Li Yuchun appears onstage in a black-and-white outfit, her short hair cut in its trademark style. With her latest album I Met You in 1987, Li proves that if China's show business has to select a representative, she is the one.

Known by her English name Chris Lee in the West, Li has appeared twice on the Asian cover of Time Magazine since winning the televised singing competition Super Girl in 2005, when she got more than 3 million votes from around the country.

Li broke the stereotype of China's female pop idols with her tomboy image.

 Li keeps working to find 'her' music

Pop idol Li Yuchun recently released her new album I Met You in 1987. Zou Hong / China Daily

With six albums under her belt, the singer has won the 2013 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Worldwide Act.

The latest album marks Li's musical return after a two-year hiatus, during which she took on roles in movies, including the kung-fu film The Guillotines directed by Andrew Lau and the play A Dream Like a Dream directed by Stan Lai.

"I listened to the songs in the new album over and over again. I try to make sure everything in the album expresses myself properly," she says.

"I turned 30 this year and this album is like a gift for myself as well as for my fans."

The album follows the dance-oriented pop music style from her earlier albums - Dancing Young Literati in 2011 and Old If Not Wild in 2012.

She invited veteran songwriter-producer Zhang Yadong to collaborate on the album. Though the two have been working together since Li's 2006 debut album The Queen and the Dreams, Li says their cooperation this time is fresh.

They spent a lot of time in the studio, drinking tea and sharing their mutual interest in photography, and watched live shows and soccer games. Many ideas for the album came from their random chats.

Zhang, 45, has worked with many notable Chinese singers such as Faye Wong and Xu Wei. He calls Li's latest album his most satisfactory in the past few years.

"I still remember the first time I met her in the studio. She was silent. Now, she has matured as a singer and songwriter," Zhang says.

For Li, being in the spotlight has not been easy. She has had to endure a tight schedule, few friends and less privacy.

"The record company positioned me as a dance-music performer at the beginning. But I was not sure. I didn't find my own style until I started writing songs by myself around five years ago," she recalls.

The new album was supposed to be released last year but she slowed things down. She wrote the lyrics for the song I Met You in 1987, paying tribute to her first idol, Chinese-American singer Kris Phillips.

Like millions who became Phillips fans after he performed the song Winter Fire at the 1987 CCTV New Year's Gala, Li - who was 3 years old then - was hooked by the rhythm and dancing.

Another song, Goddess Story, reflects Li's rebellious nature.

"Some young people try to imitate the stars' fashion style and follow the trend," she says. "I think it kills their own personalities."

Zhang says Li is neither a girl-next-door type nor an angry rocker. Instead, she is the rebel with a good attitude.

When she launched her Why Me concerts in 2006 at the age of 22, she wanted to ask herself the question: "Why was it me who won the singing contest? Why it is me who gets all this - especially the fans?"

"I think the answer is, I am being myself," Li says.

(China Daily USA 09/16/2014 page11)