Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rainie Yang Begins New Year on a High

2010 got off to a perfect start for Taiwanese pop star Rainie Yang (杨丞琳, pinyin: Yáng Chénglín) with the success of her new album, Rainie & Love...? 雨愛 (And that's not me being unsure of the full title; the three dots and question mark are part of the album's English title). The album became the first number one of 2010 on the G Music album charts. Released on New Year's Day, it went straight to the top of the chart, making up 26 percent of all album sales for the week 1 to 7 January.

Rainie & Love...? is the fifth studio album for the singer/actress and sometime TV host. It contains some of the songs that were also part of the soundtrack of Hi Mi Sweetheart, the romantic comedy TV series she's currently starring in alongside Show Luo. The first four tracks on the album are all from the TV show, although as far as I'm aware Show Luo doesn't duet with her on the album.

Yang began her singing career at the tender age of 16 as part of a four-member girl band called 4 in Love. However after two poorly received albums and limited success the band was disbanded. Luckily for Rainie, she had gained a higher profile with her supporting role in the phenomenally successful TV series, Meteor Garden and Meteor Rain. This was followed by a co-hosting gig on the long-running Guess Guess Guess variety show. In 2005 she released her debut solo album, My Intuition, which went platinum. A starring role in another hit TV series that year, Devil Beside You, and she had by this stage reached superstar status.

Although sales of Rainie & Love...? have been impressive in Taiwan, it's a safe bet that the strong sales figures won't be replicated on the mainland. Yang gained notoriety back in 2003 when she lightheartedly displayed her ignorance over facts concerning the War of Resistance Against Japan, plus some disparaging remarks about mainlanders. The incident happened on the Guess Guess Guess game show and provoked howls of outrage from the Chinese along with calls to boycott anything connected with her. The EastSouthWestNorth website has more details on the scandal. Despite the incident now being more than six years old, and not withstanding some public apologies from Yang, her reputation as an insensitive bimbo remains intact among a large number of mainlanders.

Out of favour with mainland China, Yang has set her sights on another major market, Japan. She has never hidden her love of Japan (another reason for some Chinese to view her with suspicion) and is planning to release her first Japanese single this month. The single will be a Japanese version of her first ever hit song, My Intuition (曖昧 , Ai Mei).

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