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Cantopop songs
Screengrabs from Glorious Years, Let Me Go With You, Love Trap, The Days We Spent Together, Silence is Golden, and Boundless Oceans Vast Skies

Cantopop songs that evoke a sense of nostalgia

Take a musical trip down memory lane with these nostalgic tunes

By Time Out Hong Kong
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Remember the days of the Four Heavenly Kings with Andy, Leon, Aaron, and Jacky? Or the legendary rock band Beyond? And of course, the famous actor and singer Leslie Cheung? It has been nearly 40 years since the golden age of 1980s to 2000s Cantopop. From catchy pop tunes to sentimental ballads, walk down memory lane with this roundup of the classic Cantonese songs. By Elaine Soh

RECOMMENDED: Want a more modern tune? Check this roundup of up-and-coming Hong Kong talents to add to your playlist.

Cantopop songs that evoke a sense of nostalgia

Beyond - Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies 海阔天空(1993) 

The song that brought Beyond’s journey to stardom. Written by band member Wong Ka Kui, this song was an epic rock ballad and the last huge hit of the band before his tragic death in 1993 due to an accident while filming a Japanese game show in Japan. This song was widely regarded as the song of freedom and the pursuit of dreams and has touched the hearts of Hongkongers for generations, even until today. 

Hacken Lee Ke Qin - The Red Sun 红日 (1992) 

A catchy and rhythmic song, The Red Sun is the Cantonese cover of the Japanese megahit song, Sore Ga Daiji, sung by the Daijiman Brothers back in 1991. Despite the age of this song, it still exudes a sense of youthful vibrancy, and its lyrics encourage people to never give up on what they are striving for. 

 

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Beyond - Glorious Years 光辉岁月 (1990) 

Another cult favourite by Beyond, Glorious Years pays tribute to the revolutionary leader Nelson Mandela – and his struggles against apartheid in South Africa. It praises the leader’s love for his people and his unfaltering fight for humanity. The tune quickly rose to fame after its release in 1990 and soon dominated the Cantopop scene. Since then, Glorious Years has become a symbolic song of the socio-political aspirations of Hong Kong.  

Sam Hui - From the Heart of a Loafer 浪子心声 (1976)

Widely considered as the ‘God of Songs’, legendary Cantopop singer Sam Hui’s From the Heart of a Loafer is a song about the philosophy of life. Released in 1976, its lyrics express the sentiments of many Hongkongers during the era where many people were struggling with poverty and the city was still recovering from the war. Over the decades, the song has come to embody a special meaning, especially for the older generations who have been through difficult struggles in life. 

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Leslie Cheung and Sam Hui - Silence is golden 沉默是金 (1988)

One of the finest songs left behind by legendary superstar Leslie Cheung, Silence is Golden remains as an all-time favourite in the hearts of many fans today. The soundtrack (1988) was a classic collaboration between Sam and Leslie, both of whom are regarded as the founding fathers of Cantopop. Even the younger Hongkongers who did not grow up in this generation of music are undoubtedly familiar with the melody – the true mark of a timeless song!

Cass Phang - Let me go with you 让我跟你走(1994)

Compared to other classic Cantopop songs, this song may be lesser-known, but it is still a solid, emotionally wrought female ballad worthy of mention. Cass’s music career took off after the release of this tear-jerking classic. Anybody who was into Cantopop during that era would definitely have heard of Let me go with you.

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Andy Lau - The days we spent together 一起走过的日子 (1991) 

Sung by Andy Lau, one of the four heavenly kings of Hong Kong, this song was practically a national anthem. Topping Hong Kong charts overnight, its fame goes beyond Hong Kong and into different parts of Asia, and quickly became one of the most notable hits in Andy’s music career. The song features a melodic erhu (a traditional Chinese instrument) solo that weaves nicely into the contemporary sound of the 90s pop music, attracting both older Chinese listeners and the younger crowd. 

Alan Tam - Love Trap 爱情陷阱 (1985)

If you are a fan of Cantopop legend, Alan Tam, you definitely would have heard of his signature song, Love Trap, a synth-pop cult hit in the mid-80s that sent many fans jumping during his high energy live performances. The single was an original song for the hit Japanese anime Megazone 23, Senaka Goshi ni Sentimental by Kumi Miyasatobut Tam turned it into a Cantonese favourite. Watch his performance and dance to this catchy pop song.

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Sammi Cheng - Beautiful Life 終身美麗 (2001)

The melodic love song by Cantopop queen Sammi Cheng is the original soundtrack for the popular Hong Kong movie Love on a Diet, starring Sammi herself and Andy Lau. The lyrics of Beautiful Life is a sweet and touching confession to a lover for his support and encouragement. Listen with tissues close by because weeping comes very easily for this melancholic song! 

Frances Yip - The Bund 上海灘(1980)

Saving the best for the last: The Bund – one of the most sensational songs in Cantopop history. Sung by Frances Yip, the song gained worldwide recognition as the theme song for one of the most influential Hong Kong TV dramas, The Bund (1980), which is also widely praised as the ‘Godfather of the East’. Today, both the song and the TV drama have become household names, especially among Chinese-speaking communities in the world. 

More tunes to listen to

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