The Teresa Teng craze

IF there's one thing that seems to unite Southeast Asians, regardless
of their many differences, it's their love-affair with the songs of Teresa Teng. The record and cassette sales of this 29-year-old Taiwan singer annually top two million – half of which are sold in Hong Kong alone. On her most recent concert tour of the area, Teresa drew more than 100,000 fans to jam-packed shows at Hong Kong's Lee Theatre, Taipei's 3,000-seat Sun Yat Sen Hall, Bangkok's Dusit Thani and similar entertainment spots in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Penang.

 "She's a bigger draw card in Asia than Lobo, The Village People, and Blondie combined," says Thailand's with-it international impresario, Khun Itthivat, commenting on the huge crowds Teresa drew in Bangkok. Hong Kong's impresario, Johnny Lee, was forced to add four more shows to her week-long season at the Lee Theatre. And upwards of 40,000 Malaysians paid small fortunes to see her shows. Even in mainland China, Teresa Teng is reported to be the most popular singing star in such centres as Shanghai, Peking and Canton. Her pictures and cassettes are sold openly on the streets and are said to be a prized addition to a bride's dowery. In Taiwan, the government awarded Teresa its highest honour for an entertainer – the Golden Bell – for her "universal popularity."

 Interestingly enough, the "Teng Craze" is not a new phenomenon outside mainland China. As far back as 1974, Teresa's hit Airport sold more than 200,000 records within two months of its release in Japan. That same year, Japan's two major T.V. networks voted Teresa the "most promising singing star" and crowds filled Tokyo's 3,500-seat Kawasaki Hall for her concerts.

 In fact, wherever Teresa Teng gives a live concert, the event is big news in the press and it was on an assignment for an international magazine that I first became aware of the extent of "Teng Craze." Like others, I had read over the wires of her increasing popularity in mainland China and of how youth there, as in the rest of Asia,


was identifying with her style and ballads. But why? What is there about this young woman which people find so appealing? And who is the real person behind this super star image?

 On the numerous occasions I had a chance to observe Teresa, on stage, as well as off, I gradually came to realise that her mystique - that of a sweet, tender, unpretentious and wholesome sort of girl – also comes through in her private life. This alone sets her apart from so many pop stars:
no inflated ego: no contrived and exaggerated personality: no phoney show-biz glamour; no pin-up look, nor thick make-up, elongated eye lashes, painted features, gimmicky shenanigans. On stage, as well as off, her style seems natural, even to the point of being "square" by western standards. In addition, she exudes such a professional ease when singing that her ballads seem to flow without effort. The dry-ice smoke and blinking neons that pop audiences seem to like so much, seem unnecessary intrusions in her case. In other words, Teresa Teng doesn't seem to need any stage effects or gimmicks. She needs only to be herself to keep the rapture of her audiences. Her crystalline voice does the rest.

 In her private life, I discovered, Teresa avoids the show-biz party circuit and "in-crowds," preferring the company of her immediate family and personal friends. She usually bases herself at her brother's home in Los Angeles where she is taking college preparatory courses at a UCLA extension. The consistency between her naturalness on stage and her unglamorous private life seems to reinforce the spontaneity in her songs. This allows her to be so relaxed while singing that she seldom requires lengthy rehearsals. Part of her stage ease is due to the fact she has been performing in public since she was a little girl. Her mother had entered her in all kinds of contests and, by the time Teresa was nine, she already was a feature of Taiwan's entertainment world. 右向き三角1

The Asia Magazine May 23, 1982



 東南アジアの人たちをひとつにまとめているものがあるとすれば、それはそれは、テレサ・テンの歌に魅了されていることだ。この29歳の台湾人歌手のレコードとカセットの売り上げは年間200万枚を超え、その半分は香港だけで売られている。香港の利舞台(Lee Theatre)、台北の國立國父紀念館(3000席)、バンコクのホテル「デュシタニ」、その他、クアラルンプール、シンガポール、ペナンのエンターテインメントスポットで行われた最近のコンサートツアーでは、10万人以上のファンを動員し、満員の盛況ぶりだった。





しかし、なぜだろう?この若い女性のどこがそんなに魅力的なのだろう? そして、このスーパースターのイメージの背後にいる本当の姿は誰なのだろうか。



「アジアマガジン」誌 1982年5月23日号


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