With all the recent Kpop attention via Gangnam stylings, I got to wondering what hybrid artists are big in Asia. Wanting Qu is a Chinese pianist and singer based in Canada whose first record saw platinum sales in China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia this year. She sings both in Mandarin and in English, which she learned to speak at 16.
Wanting headed west for boarding school as a teen and in Vancouver she taught herself to play piano when she was supposed to be studying. She went on to guitar and then targeted the record label that hosted her favorite singers; she sent demos, she played shows. Her debut album Everything In The World had a worldwide release on that same label this past spring. It’s now triple platinum in China.
Wanting is a doe-eyed chanteuse exhaling melody against a backdrop of tinkling piano, with occasional acoustic guitar strums. At first listen she sounds a bit Regina Spektor, on songs like “Life is Like a Song,” * though minus the funny. There’s the faintest hint of electronic rhythms on “Drenched” * and “Anxiety.” * Her voice is open and sincere, her look is angular yet sensual and she comes across sweet; quite a rarity in pop music. She sites Dido as an early influence and she has something of her sensibility as a vocalist.
Wanting’s mother tells the story of her singing the theme song to a Chinese cop show from her crib. Her own music follows a piano soap opera theme; melody and production are reminiscent of the title tracks from shows like 80s daytime romance banger “Santa Barbara.”* Two tracks were chosen for a Hong Kong film soundtrack, a romantic comedy, giving a boost to sales of her debut album.
Wanting is the first Chinese pop artist I’ve heard of playing something like CMJ, so, though her genre might not draw me to a live show, her global charm gives the sound new life. And ballads from Everything in the World are likely a fit for karaoke nightlife everywhere on the globe.
Wanting plays during the CMJ 2012 Music Marathon in New York City:
- Sun, Oct 14 New York, NY @ Rockwood Music Hall (2:00pm)
- Mon, Oct 15 New York, NY @ Rockwood Music Hall (7:00pm)
- Tues, Oct 16 New York, NY @ The Living Room (10:45pm)