What tracks did everyone put on loop during 2021, a year when Hong Kong went through dramatic social and political changes under the global pandemic?

Keung To, Edan Lui, Terence Lam and MC Cheung. Photo: Milktea, Tombus20032000 & Nickyjai via Wikicommons.

From rising local independent singer Terence Lam, and shining members of boyband Mirror, local Cantonese tracks have been centre stage throughout last year, dominating nine of the ten slots.

Note: The estimated play rate is calculated by HKFP using the weekly “Hong Kong Top 200” Charts on Spotify between December 4, 2020 and December 3, 2021. The statistics may not resemble Spotify’s official data due to differences in calculation methods.

1. ‘Mr. E’s a series of unfortunate events’ by Edan Lui (estimated 6,685,278 times played)

The first on the list is also the first solo single by Edan Lui, a member of the most popular boy band in town – Mirror. Edan said on his social media profiles that the song was inspired by his own unlucky experiences and lack of confidence.

“Mr. E can be anyone, who faces many unfortunate situations. Yet these misfortunes and unhappiness were what made you who you are.” the song’s description on Metro Radio says.

2. ‘Solitude’ by Terence Lam (estimated 6,647,342 times played)

The composition, lyrics, arrangement and production of “Solitude” were all the work of singer-songwriter Terence Lam himself. Terence told HK01 that the song was based on his introvert personality and reflections during the pandemic.

“Because of Covid-19, we are all truly in solitude…I began to ponder whether having just a few friends was a bad thing, and thought of the importance of daily interactions.”

3. ‘Time’ by Terence Lam (estimated 5,720,199 times played)

“Time” tells the tale of a man wishing to go back in time as he regrets confessing to a female friend he loves. The global outbreak was cited in the lyrics as background to the story.

4. ‘Quarantine  – Studio Live Duet’ by Jace Chan and Terence Lam (estimated 5,003,350 times played)

Jace Chan’s original track “Quarantine” used the analogy of the anti-pandemic measure to describe a girl’s feeling when being blocked on social media by her crush. The “studio live duet” version added Terence’s character as the girl’s close friend who secretly loves her but has been “friend-zoned.”

5. ‘NEXT’ by Terence Lam (estimated 4,464,217 times played)

“We have not met, but I already gained the courage to let go” – a pessimistic view of love is conveyed in the lyrics of “NEXT”

Terence Lam told Ming Pao Weekly that he felt the song was about adjusting one’s attitude for self-protection, to think that one should be prepared for the possibility of losing anything anytime, be it a relationship or career.

6. ‘Galactic Repairman’ by Dear Jane (estimated 4,474,547 times played)

“Galactic Repairman” was under the public spotlight last July as a secondary school punished two students for singing the song on campus, claiming phrases such as “chaotic age” and “fighting against” in the lyrics contained political meaning.

The now-defunct Stand News reported that the song was censored on Chinese streaming platform QQ Music after the incident.

7. ‘Pills’ by Terence Lam (estimated 3,865,196 times played)

“Sometimes it‘s wise to be foolish, it’s foolish to be wise.” Terence Lam told BAZAAR magazine the concept of the song emerged from a Chinese idiom “ignorance is a rare blessing.”

The song’s name in Chinese literally means “Magical Pills of Ignorance.”

8. ‘STAY (with Justin Bieber)’ by The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber (estimated 3,666,731 times played)

The global hit by Australian rapper-singer Kid Laroi and Canadian singer Justin Bieber also hit the top ten on Hong Kong’s most popular music platform. The song tells a story about a troubled relationship where the singers were at fault and begged their partners to stay.

9. ‘The Love without Words’ by Keung To (estimated 3,820,415 times played)

Hong Kong’s favourite member of Mirror, the biggest boyband in town, released this Covid-19 themed song on his birthday last year. In a HK01 interview, he said his wish was to pass on positive vibes to listeners: “nothing is unsolvable, this pandemic won’t be either.”

10. ‘Overruled’ by MC Cheung (estimated 3,770,320 times played)

The second song by showbiz newcomer MC Cheung took everyone by surprise, including the singer himself. “R&B isn’t a popular genre with mainstream listeners,” he told magazine Men’s Uno. The song’s lyrics tell the tale of love prevailing against all opposition.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.