‘Hero of Asia’ Li Yuchun talks about life amid fame and pop culture

By Zhang Ni Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/29 13:23:40

Li Yuchun. Photo: VCG

 "I want to make more heart-warming music in the post-pandemic age," said Li Yuchun (Chris Lee), one of China's most iconic female pop stars, in an exclusive interview with the Global Times in Wuhan, the "hero city" of Central China's Hubei Province. 

Appearing on China's pioneering reality competition Super Girl in 2005, Li quickly shot to fame, landing on the cover of Time magazine later that year. Still a huge star in the Chinese entertainment industry today with abundant followers both inside and outside China, she is also a much sought-after fashion muse due to her unique androgynous style. Despite this success, however, she has also been through her share of dark times during which she suffered from cyber bullying and doubts about her talent. 

"For nearly 10 years, I didn't use Sina Weibo, I just wanted to do my own thing. But actually, this left me with fewer opportunities to perceive the world," Li explained. 

Li likes the documentary My Octopus Teacher, according to the star, the show inspired her to "put out feelers again to embrace the world." Li certainly has been stepping more out into the public spotlight in the past few years.  In this year, she joined the Chinese reality competition show Sing! China 2020 as a tutor. 

Talking about singing, the star noted that what she considers a "good" voice is not limited to an excellent singing voice per se, but also should include a sincere voice that comes from the singer's heart and which is enriched with originality. 

"One's voice is an important channel for a musician to express oneself. When one sings a song, he or she has synergy with that song," Li explained, noting that as a musician she is always looking for ways to make new breakthroughs while staying sincere and original. 

Why Me (2009) and Liu Xing (2017), two of Li's most popular music pieces, reflect her changing ideas about music. "When I was making Liu Xing, I tried different musical styles, such as integrating Chinese musical elements with popular electronic music. I hoped to show the depth of Chinese culture in music, and to express it in a more modern way," Li exemplified. 

"In terms of concept, I focus less on romantic love. I don't know why, I found my previous albums were about one's inner world. Like in Why Me, I paid attention to developing my personal inner microcosm. 'Ximen Youth' was about the place I was born. Then in Liu Xing, I began to shift focus from the individual to the group and to society," Li said. 

Going back to her roots - the Super Girl - Li mentioned the self-doubt she felt and reflected on what it was like to be a young idol. As a notable example of someone who kicked off a successful career on a talent competition show, Li recommends that young people who also want to appear on such shows ask themselves how much they really love music and if they will be able to hold onto their passion for music when encountering failures and setbacks. 

Although she massively enjoys interacting with fans while performing on stage, Li noted that she is also a quiet introvert in her personal life. Though she grew up in a loving family, Li was aware that growth toward maturity must unavoidably blend with shadows. Despite this though, she always strived to reach for the light while growing up. 

She shared a few experiences in her life that brought her to tears, such as the time she saw her parents sitting among the audience and watching her perform on stage at a time when the cyberbullying on her was at its worst. A more recent time she cried was after an original songwriter she appreciated was eliminated from Sing! China 2020. Initially she had no time to react, but later found herself bursting into tears on a plane the next day. She also remembered how a fan's warm action of holding up a lit up sign with her name on it also moved her to tears, but in a good way. 

As an influential icon, Li remains creative and continues to explore new roads. "We live in a world of popularity where people follow popular trends or aesthetics. But I want to look at it from the opposite side or from a different angle, instead of standing on the path that leads the way to just being popular," she noted. 

When asked what positive influence she hopes to have on fans, Li said, "I hope Li Yuchun can always work hard to head in a better direction and become a better person. During this process, I hope that some of my growth, experience, or the significant things I have seen or heard can be passed on to more people in a more positive way. If I can have a positive impact, I think that's good enough for me." 

Newspaper headline: Living under the spotlight


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