Mirror pledges to bring “Hong Kong Pop” to the world

HONG KONG — Mirror, Hong Kong’s most popular boy group, hopes to expand its global reach and promote Cantopop in the process with the release of its first English-language song on Friday.

The song “Rumours”, an electronic dance music track about a potential relationship and the rumors surrounding it, is meant to reflect the maturation of the 12 members of the group, who formed through a local TV broadcaster’s reality talent show in 2018 and ranged from ages from their 20s to early 30s.

“It’s very different from all our previous singles because it’s kind of dark and also a sexy kind of song,” member Anson Lo told NBC News in an interview this month.

The release of the song and its accompanying music video fired up some of the band’s local fans in Hong Kong, a Chinese territory that is home to more than 7 million people.

“We hope that people in other places can learn more or be more interested in Hong Kong through the Mirror,” said Annie Yuen, a spokesperson for the AnsonLohonting International Fan Club.

Cantopop once dominated music in Asia, but in recent decades it has lost ground to other regional genres such as mandopop and, above all, K-pop. But Mirror members say they are not trying to compete.

“We never think that way, we like to beat other cultures,” said member Stanley Yau.

“Releasing ‘Rumours’ is just like introducing ourselves, introducing Cantopop to the world,” he added.

But the group, which is planning a world tour as early as next year, does foresee some challenges in globalizing music in Cantonese, the Chinese dialect that is the most commonly spoken language in Hong Kong.

“In K-pop songs or English songs, these lyrics are very easy to understand, or quite simple or straightforward,” said member Edan Lui. “But for Cantopop, the lyrics can be very deep and difficult to understand. It is difficult for people who do not know Cantonese to understand these texts.

Wong Chee Chung, a veteran radio DJ and head of general education at the University of Hong Kong, agreed.

“There are nine sounds (or tones) in Cantonese, which makes it difficult to even pronounce, let alone sing,” said Wong, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Cantopop.

But he said he still thinks the song can find success in English-speaking communities and that it’s the perfect time for Mirror to expand its fanbase now that Hong Kong is finally emerging from three years of pandemic isolation.

Wong argued that music like Mirror’s should really be called “Hong Kong pop”.

“In terms of language, Hong Kong has always been a hybrid city,” he said.

“If you look back to the 1960s, Hong Kong pop music consisted mainly of English songs,” he added. “It wasn’t until the 1970s that Cantonese songs became prevalent.”

Even as they juggle projects in music, film and television, the Mirror members say they still haven’t fully moved on from the incident at a concert in July last year, in which a huge video screen crashed on stage, injuring two dancers, one seriously .

In January, police charged three employees of the concert’s headliner with conspiracy to defraud, accusing them of underestimating the weight of the video screen. More seriously injured dancer Mo Li took his first steps after the accident in February using an exoskeleton, according to a Facebook post by his father. The 28-year-old, who has been mostly in hospital for the past eight months, still requires hours of daily treatment.

The group, whose other members include Frankie Chan, Alton Wong, Lockman Yeung, Anson Kong, Jer Lau, Jeremy Lee, Keung To, Tiger Yau and Ian Chan, has not appeared publicly for two months after the incident.

“We still think about it all the time. But I think it’s very important for us to come back,” said Lo, who was on stage at the time.

Louie, who was also performing at the time of the incident, said the band “really tried to digest it”.

“Hopefully we can overcome it and bring more positive energy back to the public,” he said.

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