The awesomely informed music mavens over at China Music Radar have sniffed themselves out a delicious piece of news that ought to be shared (especially as a warning to anyone writing about China’s music industry): Ayi Jihu, recently the feature of a That’s Shanghai spread, not to mention reports on Sky News, The Daily Mail, and even The BBC, was touted as the Chinese “Madonna,” a poor dishwasher turned major Chinese RnB star… only barely anyone in China has heard of her.
Ayi Jihu is supposed to be a girl from Sichuan, whose story of poverty is made even more juicy by her ethnic minority status (she’s from the Yi tribe, apparently known for their glorious folk singing and dancing – though what ethnic minority tribe in China isn’t, really?). According to the official spiel, she washed dishes in Cambridge, England for four pounds an hour before becoming huge in China. How huge?
Says the Daily Mail:
Dubbed ‘The Chinese Madonna’, her raunchy R&B pop numbers have made her a millionaire and she can not walk the streets in her homeland without being mobbed.
Her provocative routines have even attracted unwelcome attention from China’s communist government.
That’s huge! Except… As China Music Radar notes, for people who work in the music industry here, you’d think they would’ve heard something about her:
So, we asked around the office. Who was this sensation? Why hadn’t we heard of her? We are a music company based in China with over 20 Chinese staff in our offices. Were we not doing our jobs?
The result of our informal poll? Not a single person had ever heard of this R&B “star” who has broken all kinds of records here in China.
And so we did some digging. What came up? Well, mostly nothing at all.
Their findings are well worth a read, but in short: It seems that there’s not much to her besides some brilliant hype work from her PR company. The “famous label” that she was signed to doesn’t quite exist, if she has sold a million hits they were maybe to herself and her videos were all put up by her PR company (They’re pros! Can someone give me their number?)
Now, that’s not to say Ayi Jihu can’t become a bona-fide hit in the future. For all this staging, there’s got to be some talent backing it up too, right? Watch the Heidi Montag-esque video for her single Sad Sweet Dreamer and decide for yourself. Or you can check out this Youku vid too:
Huh, the track she’s singing over sure sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I wonder if that mash-up was authorized.
One last note: “I ain’t chasing American dreams, I’m just tasting American cream.” Maybe this is the biggest, longest running, anachronistic April Fools joke by British media ever?