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Charts and Award Ceremonies

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Unlike the Grammy Awards in the USA and Oricon in Japan, there is no authoritative list of pop songs in China.

Hong Kong

  • The Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Songs (since 1984) and the RTHK Top 10 Golden Songs Award (since 1978) are authoritative in Hong Kong. Since 2001 Mainland Chinese stars have been able to participate in the RTHK Top 10, but given the overall decline of cantopop since the late 1990s, its influence has waned.

 

Taiwan

  • In tune with the dominance of Taiwanese popular music since 2000, the Taiwanese Golden Melody Awards remains a trend setter in Chinese-language pop music. It was established in its current form in 1990, but goes back to the 1980s. In 1998 it opened the competition to all singers who had published Chinese-language albums in Taiwan.
  • The first two steps in the Golden Melody Awards selection procedure involve consultation with large numbers of specialists, for shortlisting candidates. Only in the final phase does a small committee meet to rank the contesters, which means that the selection and tastes of this committee are contested, and that committee members are sometimes incapable of awarding their personal favorite because he or she didn’t make it to the shortlist. Given the fact that controversy over such influential gatekeeping seems inevitable, and the relative unreliability of hit lists in the PRC, the Golden Melody Awards functions well, albeit perhaps conservatively.

 

PRC

  • Since 1992 the first mainland Chinese award ceremony was held in Guangzhou. Beijing Music Radio organizing the first national Chinese Popular Song Awards in 1994. Other yearly hit lists quickly followed, including Channel V’s Global Sinophone Music Charts, which have been available to PRC audiences via satellite since 1998, and a cooperation between CCTV and MTV from 1999 onwards.
  • PRC audiences eagerly anticipated these ceremonies, which provided rare opportunities to see pop stars who mostly dwelt in Hong Kong and Taiwan. This success prompted a proliferation of awards in the late 1990s, and by 2002 there were allegedly more than 2000 award ceremonies. All these events vied for celebrity presence, which led them to invent new awards, for instance ‘favorite’ in addition to ‘best’, ‘most respected’, and awards named after the event. In general, award ceremony organizers became more occupied with negotiating with stars and their record companies than with a fair and transparent selection procedure. By 2001 it was a public secret that all the stars present at an award ceremony would get a prize, even if they hadn’t published new material for years.
  • These yearly red carpet events are often sponsored by companies, which partly explains why exposure trumps credibility. Because these companies rarely sponsor radio, radio has a different dynamics. Weekly radio charts are usually established through the tastes of individual DJs and hearsay, and are usually open to suggestions of record companies. According to a 2001 article, plugging a song in a radio chart usually costs between 200 and 1000 RMB, and occasionally 10,000 RMB. If anything these numbers have probably increased considerably over the last ten years. Singers and the industry as a whole seem to regard this as an acceptable instrument for ‘stir-frying’ songs into hits, which also includes paying journalists for favorable reviews.
  • In 2008, the PRC Top Chinese Music Chart Awards (founded in 2001) attempted to restore credibility by appointing a relatively transparent jury of twenty prominent musicians, producers and critics and by having the election procedure supervised by New York-based auditor Deloitte, which also handles the Grammy Awards envelopes.
  • Several websites (see above) offer lists of most downloaded artists or of tracks with the most favorable reviews.

 

 

For a more detailed and complete overview, please download the entire chapter in PDF below.