Chinese boy band TFBOYS and their fans celebrate group’s fifth anniversary

By Huang Tingting Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/28 19:03:39

TFBOYS perform at the Beijing Workers' Stadium on Friday. Photo: Courtesy of TF Entertainment

TFBOYS'new book 2023: Nonfiction Growth Story Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Xiron Books

Tens of thousands of TFBOYS fans from across China besieged Beijing Workers' Stadium on Friday afternoon to embrace the "big night."

The three teenaged members of the group - each a national superstar to some tens of millions of fans ranging from school kids to middle-aged parents - were set to give a 139-minute concert to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their debut on August 6, 2013 at the stadium, the capital's landmark building for major shows and sporting events with a seating capacity of 60,000 people.

Packed with fans waiting in line or gathering around booths peddling the group's merchandise, the stadium's front square looked exactly like the Beijing Railway Station during the Spring Festival - the country's busiest travel season.

Enthusiastic fans

The show's tickets had sold out weeks ago and hotel rooms in the 600 yuan ($88) range nearby were all booked, fans told the Global Times.

One student who flew all the way from Hong Kong for the show told the Global Times that she spent 1,800 yuan to buy tickets from a scalper that were originally priced at 680 yuan on the official site. The concert's priciest official ticket cost 1,880 yuan.

"I don't know what I was thinking, but I have to get in," she explained.

During the wait outside of the stadium, young girls were busy decorating themselves using hair accessories and hand bands that came in four colors - blue for Wang Junkai, green for Wang Yuan, red for Yi Yangqianxi and orange for all three together.

A sea of LED lights featuring the stars' names lit up the stadium and the number of people watching the concert's live stream on one of five Chinese streaming platforms reached a staggering 125 million - evidence that the trio was still one of China's hottest pop groups.

Beloved idols

Debuting as they were just entering their teens, TFBOYS, or san xiao zhi (lit. Three Little Ones)as they are called by their fans, quickly rose to fame with their debut album Heart, Dream & Start and their 2014 hit single "Manual of Youth," triggering widespread discussion at home and abroad about the impact fame can have on young idols.

Now entering adulthood (Wang Junkai turned 18 last year), the three have grown to adapt to new roles such as actors, fashion icons and ambassadors for international organizations. In 2017 Wang Yuan was appointed by UNICEF as its Special Advocate for Education and Yi was chosen by the World Health Organization as a Tobacco Control Advocate for China.

In February, the group performed for the third time during the State-run China Central Television's annual Spring Festival Gala, a rarity for a pop group.

The group's social media influence is huge, too. Each member has more than 50 million followers on Sina Weibo, surpassing some of the country's most popular stars. One Sina Weibo post by Wang Junkai in 2015 was reposted 42,776,438 times, earning him a Guinness World Record for Most Reposts of a Sina Weibo Post.

The success of the group has prompted Chinese entertainment companies to launch similar boy bands over the past few years, but few of them have managed to make such a splash in the market.

Story of success

However, success never comes easy, as shown in the stories the three members shared for the first time in their new book 2023: Nonfiction Growth Story, which was published in August.

"Looking back on the days we spent training, it seems that to me they were not so monotonous and painful as others might describe - not because I'm ignoring the sweat that I shed, but because I knew that once I chose this career, I would have to deal with hardship," Wang Junkai wrote in the book.

Outside the limelight, the three are just ordinary kids who whine about having to do homework, the lack of time they have to spend with family and the pressures of being a teenage celebrity.

"Even now, I'm still not used to being the center of attention when I am not working," wrote Wang Yuan.

"My mum never thought about I could become a star, all that she and my dad hoped for was for me to be a healthy and happy kid."

"My 13- or 14-year-old life was about having people decide things for me. Somebody paved the road for me and I walked on it," wrote Yi.

"From 13 to 18, I maturated not only professionally, but also when it came to my state of mind - from having decisions made for me to making my own choices."

Entering their fifth year - halfway through their 10-year contract with TF Entertainment - rumors are running wild that the trio is likely to disband as they have been seen taking on more roles outside of the group. However, while each has had their own independent studio since 2017, the three members still get together for major occasions.

"The year 2023 will witness the realization of our 10-year promise to our fans," the group stressed in a media statement sent to the Global Times.

Newspaper headline: Growing up

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