Thursday, January 27, 2005

Faye Wong

Born in Beijing, People's Republic of China, Faye Wong moved with her family to Hong Kong and began her musical career in the late 1980s, releasing a few albums under the stage name Shirley Wong. In 1991, she made a short trip to New York for vocal studies and burst onto the Hong Kong music scene the same year with the album Coming Home, which incorporated R&B influences and was a drastic change in musical direction from the more traditional Cantopop fare of her earlier albums.

Since then, she has shed the R&B influence and had moved on to produce works of considerable originality and a more alternative flavor. By 1994, she had changed her Chinese name back to "Wong Fei" for all subsequent releases.

1996 saw the release of what many would consider her boldest and most artistically coherent effort to date, Restless. The album contains mainly her own compositions, with an aesthetic inspired by the Scottish ambient/ethereal group, Cocteau Twins, who also contributed 2 of their songs for the album. Wong had previously covered the Cocteau Twins on her 1994 album, Random Thoughts, and had since established a remote working relationship with the band, laying down vocals for a track on the Asian version of their 1995 album, Milk And Kisses. Simon Raymonde & Robin Guthrie further contributed 2 other compositions, but only one of them showed up on Wong's 1997 self-titled follow-up.

She has covered songs in Chinese by western artists such as Tori Amos, The Cranberries, and The Sundays in the earlier years of her career. The Decadent Sounds of Faye Wong in 1995 was a covers album containing unique renditions of songs originally done by her childhood idol Teresa Teng, a revered singer in Chinese music active around the 1960s, who died shortly before its release. While "Decadent Sounds" suffered negative criticism initially, it has come to be recognised as a classic among her fans and is held as an example of imaginative covering by recent critics.

While most of her earlier albums prior to 1996 were sung in Cantonese, Wong has almost consistently sung in Mandarin ever since. Having gone through a stage of experimentation, Faye has stated that she now wishes to produce "music that I like. I do not care if others don't, though I would be delighted if they do".

Wong has a daughter named Dou Jingtong born on January 3, 1997 with ex-husband and musical partner Dou Wei, a prominent musician in his own right. The baby's voice appears on the title track of the album Only Love Strangers released in 1999, as well as in the song "Child" on the album Song Journey.

Her claim to fame in the Western world is the title song "Eyes on Me" for the video game Final Fantasy VIII, for which she was reportedly paid one million dollars. She went on to do commercials for Pepsi in the 2000s, and continues to put out best-selling albums.

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