Fei Yu-Ching: The Classic Pop Superstar
Rising to fame in a speedy fashion, Fei Yu-Ching was soon headlining top billed performances, and remained one of Taiwan's top singers until his retirement in 2019. As an artist with such career longevity, Fei has obviously evolved along with the market, encapsulating certain elements representative of each era of pop music in Taiwan. One could even say that Fei was at the forefront of incorporating new pop elements at least until the early 1990s. Though his overall music style has stagnated and gradually become what many today would call classic Taiwanese pop, he still occasionally attempts to be part of new movements in pop, with a standout example being a collaboration with Jay Chou on "Far Away" in 2006.
Taiwan was part of the greater logistical network in the Vietnam War, and from the 1960s to 1975, American popular culture was frequently imported to the island. Fei's career initially took off with him singing insert tracks for popular TV shows that were mostly centered around urban romances at the time. His voice and vocal pitch also meant that he was the perfect candidate for funk and disco tracks which soon gained popularity in the late 70s, while he continued to put out songs that were heavily influenced by Taiwanese folk music.
Another influential mainstay of imported music was Japanese pop, the lineage of which can be traced back to before the Nationalist government coming to Taiwan in 1949. A Japanese colony until the end of World War II, Taiwan had been under the influence of Japanese popular culture since the beginning of the 20th century and was often receiving second hand European and American popular culture through Japan. With many musicians and composers brought up in such an era, it is no surprise that Taiwanese folk music was influenced heavily by Japanese Enka, both in style and substance.
Fei released many tracks throughout his career that are clearly infused with such elements, while his final endeavor into new genres of pop music was a cover of a track from Japanese singer ASKA, titled "You're My Forever Nostalgia"
The track could also be representation of the beginning of the end of frequent covers of Japanese songs by artists in both Taiwan and Hong Kong, paving the way for a new generation of imported songs from Korea and Thailand. Fei's is still able to demonstrate his perfect transitions on this track fine-tuned to his pitch, even though the overall vocal melodies of the song might be described as a rehashed assembly of his previous work.
Text by Tai-Wei Lin
Translated by Andrew Hsieh