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‘Unlucky’ Taylor Swift conquers China

by Daniel Maxwell – Sep 12th, 2019

Not content with shaking up the music industry , kickstarting the me-too movement  and becoming the world’s highest-paid  celebrity, Taylor Swift has now conquered the music charts in China, with her latest album, ‘Lover’, selling 1 million units in the first week!

Few American artists are as universally popular as Taylor Swift, and selling 1 million units in China during the first week of release has doubled the previous record for a new album, which incidentally was also held by Taylor Swift. The 29 year-old singer’s success in China even surpasses that of her popularity in the US, with Chinese fans buying more units of her latest album than US fans. 

Taylor Swift 1989 WorldTour ShangHai

Chinese fans have their own nickname for Taylor Swift, ‘mei mei’ (霉霉) – not to be mistaken for ‘mei mei’(妹妹) which means little sister or ‘mei mei’ (莓莓) which means strawberry. Taylor’s Chinese nickname, 霉霉, actually means ‘moldy’ or unlucky which is not exactly the most flattering nickname.

According Taylor Swift fans in China , Taylor Swift was first known as ‘xiao mei nu’ (小美女) meaning little beauty but after many of her early songs failed to hit number 1 on the Billboard 200, fans started to believe she was unlucky. In Chinese unlucky is ‘daomei’ (倒霉) so little beauty “xiao mei nu” became unlucky girl ‘mei mei’ (霉霉). Taylor Swift is now referred to as 霉霉 by Chinese fans and the mainstream media.

Although it’s not the most flattering name, ‘unlucky’ is rather an apt nickname for Taylor Swift considering her much-publicised breakups and her ‘unlucky in love’ status. It’s unclear what Taylor thinks of her Chinese nickname but she’ll probably be glad to know that she has a better nickname that Katy Perry, who in China is known as ‘fruity big sister’ (水果姐).

Despite being unlucky with the release of earlier hits, Taylor Swift’s albums have been extremely successful. On NetEase Cloud Music , one of China’s most popular music streaming services, Taylor’s albums, Reputation and 1989, hold the top two rankings on the all time bestsellers list and in China she is by far the most popular American singer.

Taylor Swift’s new record label Republic Records have been only too keen to celebrate the successes her latest album has brought, as the company’s CEO, Monte Lipman, explains, “Taylor’s brilliant body of work has shattered industry metrics around the world. Lover is clearly her most acclaimed album to date. Her honesty and vulnerability poured into this album has created a masterpiece.”

Taylor Swift has included Chinese destinations on her past three world tours. The first being during her Speak Now World Tour, which touched down in Hong Kong in 2011. In 2014 she performed in Shanghai as part of the Red Tour and in 2015 she played 3 nights in Shanghai and which took in over 6 million dollars during the tour of her album ‘1989’. 

Interestingly, Taylor Swift found some of her clothing and merchandise the subject of Chinese censorship due to the album title ‘1989’ which inadvertently refers to the year Chinese authorities undertook a violent crackdown on protestors in Tiananmen Square during which thousands of students died.

.@taylorswift13 trying to sell her TS 1989
clothing line in China. This is…really not going to work well.— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) July 22, 2015

Fans in China, and around the world, are now excitedly anticipating the announcement of Taylor Swift’s next world tour, although her most recent comments suggest fans may need to be patient for some time.

“I’m not quite sure what we’re doing with touring because with this album, I was so full-on planning this album release and directing the videos and putting all these different clues in these videos and trying to make this album release experience the most fun one for my fans, that I didn’t wanna plan what we’re gonna do in terms of live and I don’t want to do the same thing every time because I don’t want my life to feel like I’m on a treadmill.”

For now, Chinese fans will need to wait till their unlucky star comes back to China but you can guarantee that when she does release her tour dates she’ll have some very special shows lined up for her largest fan base in the world!

Taylor Swift in Shanghai