Singing favourite songs is a great way for a child to learn a language. Listening to Chinese lyrics can help a learner to pick up common vocabulary and new phrases, with catchy jingles. Whilst it’s easy to find little kids songs in Mandarin like Twinkle Twinkle (小星星) or Two Tigers (两只老虎) or even Baby Shark (碰碰狐), what about for an older child (or for a mother who is sick of hearing nursery rhymes on repeat!)?
In this post, I’m sharing a few pop songs for families to immerse themselves in Mandarin Chinese and attempt to sing along to. The issue we’ve had with many pop songs is the combination of:
a) the lyrics are not always appropriate
b) they’re very complex words
c) they’re too fast to appreciate
d) all of the above.
This list below is not like that. This is our list of the catchiest and cleanest Mandopop / Cpop songs we’ve enjoyed, from our favourite Malaysian, Singaporean, Taiwanese and mainland Chinese divas and crooners.
Chinese Music can be found many places for streamlining – Spotify, Youtube, Ximalaya, etc.
Joyce Chu 朱主愛
(nicknamed ‘Si Ye Cao’ 四葉草)
Joyce is brilliant Malaysia singer-songwriter and actress, who has produced several ridiculously catchy melodies. In 2020 she was port of the reality TV Chinese girl group competition Produce Camp (which is also a good watch on Youtube watch)
- Malaysia Charbor 馬來西亞查某 – this one went viral fast! Quite an eccentric song explaining who Joyce Chu really is! Fun for a child familiar with South East Asia region and simple recognisable vocabulary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79uuj5hXsOg
- Answer The Phone! 快接電話! – a silly type of love song, with a catchy tune and packed with simple vocab. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7gWJKjR29U
- It’s A Long Day – a nice one, however a small bit of English is used too https://youtu.be/9WUNFVlgQXc
- I Miss You 好想你 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdQgPu3iUYk
Plenty of Joyce Chu available to stream.
A Si 阿肆
A Si is a lesser known female singer from Shanghai, who does mainly folk and pop.
- Super Idol 热爱105°C的你 This is super catchy and fun, packed with helpful vocabulary which all the girls picked up at school. Even my four-year-old knows it off by heart. Just a watch out for the meaning of the lyrics…. I don’t fully understand the meaning behind some lines, so vet for yourself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFiEL6Gq46Q
- I am Lonely 孤寡人朕 https://youtu.be/8oacCg_qIyQ
- Doctor Zhang Said 张大夫说了 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcywQK6_Gn4
Jay Chou 周杰伦
No list would be complete with Jay Chou, dubbed the “King Of Mandopop”. Chou is a Taiwanese singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer, actor, film director, businessman, and magician (!).
In terms of those with the best lyrics for learning:
- Listen to Mom 听妈妈的话: A nice song, but particularly lovely for Mother’s Day or a treat for a grandmother who understand Chinese https://youtu.be/_B8RaLCNUZw
- Blue and White Porcelain 青花瓷: https://youtu.be/6uZrPynKWD8
- Time machine 时光机 https://youtu.be/3Txz5pQvCsc
Michael Wong 王光良 (Guang Liang)
Guang Liang is a Malaysian singer and composer, often known as “Prince of Love Songs”, as he tends to write love-themed ballads. Great background music, slow-paced, with meaningful lyrics when you really start listening.
JJ Lin 林俊杰
JJ Lin is a Singaporean singer, songwriter, and actor. He sings in English, Hokkien and Cantonese, in addition to Mandarin, giving him global appeal to many different Chinese speakers. Impressively he has written over 100 songs for other artists to perform.
- Dimples 小酒窝 – this one is a particular favourite, perhaps for a slightly older child (we skip over the line where he feels like he’s drunk!) https://youtu.be/h-woMj_Vt0A
Comic Boyz 可米小子
Comic Boyz is a Taiwanese boy band quintet, which no longer exists. They did sing several notable songs, including Heart of Superman which was written by JJ Lin mentioned above. Lyrics are interesting for learners and a bit different from the usual boy band songs.
- Heart of Superman 超人心 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93ivtYj42UI
- Red Dragon Fly 红蜻蜓 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13jVa-C0Z7Q
They have another popular/catchy one (called Number 2), for those who are comfortable with kids singing songs about thwarted lovers.
S.H.E is a three-member Taiwanese girl group, whose first name initials make up the fun acronym. They formed in 2001, and are regarded as being one of the most enduring Mandopop groups out there.
Most of their songs are too grownup, but they do have one fun one making puns of the Chinese language itself.
- Chinese Language 中国话 https://youtu.be/tCKGoND0pS0
Meng Meiqi 孟美岐
Meng Meiqi is a young Chinese singer who is a member of a South Korean-Chinese girl group called WJSN. She too is a product of the Produce Camp reality show series. Her first full solo song release was Jiang which within the first twenty minutes of release became the fastest-selling digital album on QQ Music with over 1 million digital sales.
- Jiang 犟 https://youtu.be/s2oNsmpfjt4
- New Year Greetings 福气拱拱来 – one to learn/play for Chinese New Year! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHU2IvKWrNg
Mao Buyi 毛不易
Mao Buyi is a Chinese singer-songwriter who rose to prominence when he won the all-male singing competition The Coming One in 2017. He has had two songs that reached #1 on Chinese singles charts.
- Perfect Day –平凡的一天 https://youtu.be/BiiwclhI5Y8
He has many other songs which are beautiful too, but vocally a challenge to attempt learning.
Teresa Tang 鄧麗君
Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng is old school, and she’s widely regarded as having one of the most beautiful voices in the history of Chinese music (and one of the most beautiful voices on Luka for sure), and dubbed “Asia’s Eternal Queen of Pop”. She’s very much a cultural icon for her contribution to pop music.
Our particular favourites:
- Your Sweet Smile 甜蜜蜜 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc2tW0jFHPo
- The Moon Represents my Heart 月亮代表我的心 – this is a karaoke classic; not written by Teresa, but certainly made famous by her in the late 1970s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B5gAczFJps
Stephanie Sun 孙燕姿 (Sun Yan Zi)
Stephanie is a Singaporean singer-songwriter, who in 2000 won 115 newcomer awards in Asia, including the Best New Artist award in both Taiwan and Singapore. She’s known as the “Pop Diva of Singapore”. We don’t especially *love* any of her original songs to sing along to, but she’s also done plenty of them (and great covers of other famous songs too).
In terms of her original songs to look out for, try:
- 克卜勒 Kepler
- 第一天 First Day
- 遇見 Encounter
- 綠光 Green Light
Charlie Zhou Shen 周深
This is from left field….. a young Chinese male singer with an angelic voice. The songs are better for listening than for singing along to. I’ve included them because they’re beautiful and the lyrics are interesting for a child.
- Big Fish Dà yú 大鱼 – the soundtrack to the cartoon Big Fish and Begonia, which my kids also enjoy to watch on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMWyN68VpSU
- The Rose and The Deer 玫瑰與小鹿 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPdrChKO9rE
- Wish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0rSBvGtY0M
You can find Zou Shen’s his full album here, which is 40 minutes of bliss: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjjEMCUbSfE
LuLu Huang 黃路梓茵
Lulu is a Taiwanese television host and actress, with a handful of quirky songs to her name too.
- The Beauty Duckling 美小鴨 – simple lyrics and catchy for kids https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fqjDo0ga3U
Bonnie Loo 罗美仪
Bonnie is a Malaysian actress based in Singapore, with a knack for catchy songs
- Do-Re-Mi-Far-So – an original love jingle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skHbOqtw5vg
- Moana 能走多遠 (cover) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27J8ANxc_gQ
And on the topic of Disney, there are plenty of other Chinese soundtracks we’ve found on if you use the following searches
- Frozen 冰雪奇缘
- Beauty and the Beast 美女与野兽
- Mulan 木兰
- The Lion King 狮子王
- Aladdin 阿拉丁
And specific Frozen songs:
- Let It Go 随它吧
- Do you Want to Build a Snowman 小石头和孩子们
- For the First Time in Forever 测试的感觉
- Love is an Open Door 爱的门打开了
- Into the Unknown 寻找真相
Idol Girls爱朵女孩 (Aiduo Girl)
Idol Girls are mainland Chinese female singing group who churns out Mandopop. My kids know a few off by heart.
- Prettiest Guy on this Street 这条街最靓的仔 They teach this to 4 year olds in Singapore. It’s probably a little young, but it’s good for a high energy song. 爱朵女孩-《这条街最靓的仔》舞蹈版MV – YouTube
- Little Princess 小公主 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33b0vjtsR6g
Other songs of note are:
- Cherry Blossom in Bloom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa0KSKRixUU
- YYDS – This is an abbreviation of the Chinese 永远滴神, which is like the equivalent of G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time) in English. It literally means “Forever God”, and has become a common acronym. Lyrics are probably more suitable for older kids. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA5NbH3-w9Y
Bilistar – Poetry Romance 诗歌奇缘 （诗歌奇妙盒）
This is not one singer, but a production from Bilistar, consisting of 50 original short songs combining beautiful poems from some of China’s greatest poets with musical accompaniment by renowned musicians. It can be streamed through Ximalaya. For Luka users, I would highly recommend getting the physical box set which comes with beautiful written lyrics cards, making it perfect for a family karaoke session. It’s a really fun way to pick up lots of child-friendly lyrics and classical history together.
Which is your favourite?
These are our favourite pop music discoveries. I wonder if it covers your favourites?
If you arrived at the end and have found this helpful, maybe there are some other posts on my blog you might also enjoy. As a parent who doesn’t speak any Chinese, we’ve relied heavily on online tools, clever robots, and recommendations of others in our Chinese learning journey. Some of my earlier posts are:
- Top apps, bloggers, and resources for teaching children Chinese
- Great bridging books to read when a child knows >1000 characters
- Comparison of reading pens and robots for children learning Chinese
- Great non-animate Youtube and Television shows for Children
- How to practice tingxie (Chinese spelling) at home