Grew up in the 90s listening to Cantonese pop songs. It is undeniable that those lyrics and melodies have become part of our lives. They tell stories, they inspire us, they bring hopes, they heal us, accompany us to grow stronger together. For me and HongKongers, it is hard to imagine what it would be like without Canto-pop songs. Canto-pop is definitely an integral part of Hong Kong’s cultural identity. I am a fan of HK Canto-pop and I feel like I have the obligation to promote and uphold the culture of Canto-pop and Cantonese. Therefore, I decided to share some of my favourite lyrics on our mural wall in the MAFA international art festival.
I wish I would never grow up, to love someone with intuition
I am happy, but I am the only one who didn’t realize it
Sunset is beautiful, sadly it is too close to the evening
How much will you earn to give up freedom?
To avoid being sacrificed, I am willing to be assimilated
While I am able to keep up with the pace, my skin slack off
Canto-pop brought Hong Kongers together because it was like a fresh breeze that stirred the souls of many Hong Kongers whose mother tongue was Cantonese. Canto-pop is particularly unique, given that Cantonese (9-tone language) is considered one of the hardest languages to learn. Along with the kung fu cinema made popular by Bruce Lee in the early 70s, it was the beginning of the golden era of Hong Kong, which produced a unique brand of pop culture that was not borrowed from the West – an array of songs, TV shows and movies that made Hong Kong people proud.
But all of that is now history: The Canto-pop industry is struggling and it is becoming political. Many singers have to turn to the mainland Chinese market and avoid touching on any sensitive issues because the mainland market will try to suppress them if they do so. Despite the suppression from the mainland market, there are still some songwriters who are brave to write Canto-pop songs touching on political issues, or social issues because after 2014 pro-democracy protest, Hong Kong people can really feel that politics is affecting their daily lives. A change from love pop song to protest song, Canto-pop can always found a way of resonating with and expressing how the people of the city feel.