You Know I Know

As someone who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, I was familiar with “Talentime” and singing competitions which were very sedate affairs which would probably bore today’s teenager to death.

Today’s singing competitions are a totally different ball game. The judges shoot their comments in the competitors’ faces and to win applause, one often has to flaunt some vocal acrobatics like reaching ultrasonic frequencies.

Taiwanese singer Lin Hui Ping entered the musical scene during my army days in the early 1980s. Her 倩影 and 往昔 gripped me and I became an instant fan, playing her cassette tape over and over again. But what’s so special about her voice? It’s nasal and not particularly powerful. Her secret weapon is her unique ability to inject emotion into her songs. She remained popular even after she gradually faded from the music scene from 1996. 你知道我知道 was recorded in 1998 and is probably one of her last recorded songs.

I’m not sure if someone like Lin Hui Ping would still be able to make it if she emerged today. Thankfully in those days, it was not fashionable to pander to mainland audiences. But at a time when Anita Mui had fans screaming over her outrageous costumes and gothic makeup and Su Rui was blasting listeners with her lungs of iron, Lin Hui Ping stood on stage dressed like a Japanese GND, softly belting out touching ballads. She had her style, she had her audience. 倩影 and 往昔 remain two of my favourite songs by her.

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