In recent months, Taylor Swift is a name that’s been constantly trending due to her unparalleled productivity during the pandemic, having released her two albums Folklore and Evermore in a year defined by homebound quarantines. Now, she’s entering global search bars again with her latest single “You All Over Me,” which will be included in the re-release of her sophomore album Fearless (Taylor’s Version).
Being an internationally renowned figure, Swift is universally loved both in English and non-English speaking countries. In China, this is especially true — Swift is the highest-earning Western artist in the country. Not only is she the only Western musical act to surpass sales of over one million album units in China, but she’s also accomplished it four times with her albums 1989, Lover, Reputation, and Folklore. It just goes to show the enormous influence that she has on foreign markets.
Likewise, in a sort of cultural parallel, the world has also witnessed the rise of another prominent female artist in the Eastern sphere. Hailed widely as China’s own version of Taylor Swift is Hong Kong singer-songwriter Gloria Tang (鄧紫棋), known professionally by her stage name G.E.M. (Get Everybody Moving). Tang’s personal connection to her music, ability to play instruments, and massive legions of fans — which is in the high millions — have allowed global observers to draw comparisons between the two talented artists.
Despite this, however, it is clear that the two personalities have generally made their own very distinct impact on music, with each being a dominant force for the genres that they have respectively seemed to influence over the past decade. G.E.M. herself has, of course, traversed a journey of C-Pop queendom that Taylor Swift could never imagine.
That said, there really is much to love about G.E.M. and her music. For those who are curious and want to unearth this Chinese musical gem (pun intended), here are five things about G.E.M. that you definitely need to know:
1. She has a deep musical background.
Growing up, Tang has always been surrounded by music: Her mother is an alumna of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, her grandfather was a saxophonist, and even her uncle was a violinist. Owing to that rich background, it’s no wonder that G.E.M., in addition to her already impressive vocal abilities, can play various musical instruments, including the piano, guitar, and drums.
However, exposure to her family musical background wasn’t the only thing that shaped her talents. Through her own hard work, G.E.M. started writing songs and achieved the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM)’s piano grade 8 — the highest possible level of this globally recognized music examination board — at the age of thirteen. She also briefly attended the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts before dropping out to pursue her singing career.
2. She sings in Cantonese and Mandarin.
Although G.E.M. was born in Shanghai, her family moved to Hong Kong when she was just four years old. Since Cantonese is the predominant language used in the region, G.E.M.’s dive into Cantopop makes perfect sense. However, those wanting to create a larger splash in the Chinese mainland must also be relatable to the rest of the country. As a result, G.E.M. made sure to release music in Mandarin to make her music more accessible to wider audiences.
Listen to G.E.M.’s Cantonese rendition of《喜欢你》here:
3. She is the youngest artist to have a wax figure at the Madame Tussauds Hong Kong.
Having a wax figure at a Madame Tussauds is like being inducted into the Walk of Fame. After all, what better way is there to celebrate the achievements of an accomplished individual than to immortalize them in wax?
G.E.M. was honored by a statue made in her likeness in December 2014. At the time, she was the youngest artist to ever receive a nomination for the Golden Melody Award’s Best Female Vocalist (Mandarin) distinction. During the same year, she also earned herself a World Music Award nomination for World’s Best Female Artist and an MTV Europe Music Award nomination for Best Mainland China and Hong Kong Act.
4. She placed second at a competition reality show.
Although G.E.M. was already building a steady rise to becoming one of the most successful Mandopop artists in the industry, it was her participation in the second season of popular Chinese competition program I Am a Singer that ultimately won her the hearts of the nation.
Following her second-place win, G.E.M. ranked 11th on the 2015 Forbes China Celebrity 100 Chart and brought upon herself the distinction of being the only Asian artist to be featured in the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30: Music list. Indeed, the runner-up finish paved the way for her astounding growth in fame throughout Greater China, gifting her with chart-topping album sales and global recognition in the years to come.
5. She is extremely popular.
In addition to her other previously listed accomplishments, G.E.M. is the first female Chinese singer to have three music videos each exceed 100 million views on YouTube and, at present, is the most followed female Chinese singer on Spotify. In 2020, she also received the Jury Award at the Golden Melody Awards, which is widely recognized to be the Chinese equivalent of the Grammy’s, among many other accolades.
In conclusion, her popularity has no bounds! G.E.M.’s latest single “平行世界 Parallel” was released just last February. Check it out and stream it right here:
Want to discover other amazing female acts that rule over the C-pop industry? Check out this article now!