If there’s one activity that Chinese people love, it’s karaoke.
Whether they’re social drinkers or don’t drink at all, there’s nothing that’ll easily bring people together like a KTV party.
You might not be as enthusiastic about it, but karaoke isn’t so bad when you actually participate. And besides, what better way is there to show off your Chinese skills than to sing some of the best Chinese songs with native or fluent speakers?
Plus, you can learn plenty of language skills from Chinese hits. And the best part is that you don’t have to be an amazing singer to benefit from Chinese music!
Why Learn Chinese Through Music?
Still need some convincing to incorporate music into your lessons? Here are some excellent reasons to start belting out Chinese tunes:
You can hear the natural usage of tones
Mandarin Chinese spoken in audio teaching materials and the classroom at large is often exaggerated in order for students to distinguish between the tones. The reality is that spoken Chinese isn’t all about the tones, as there are other components of natural speech like stress and emphasis, which you can listen for in music.
So by listening to and singing along to Chinese songs, you’ll learn how to pull back on the tones and sound less robotic while speaking.
You can discover and actually remember new vocabulary
Let’s face it, traditional HSK-style vocab lists can be dull and tedious. There’s no connection built between you and the words on that list, making it less likely for you to remember those terms in the long run.
Music has always been an effective and creative learning strategy, especially for language students. You can learn new words by listening to Chinese covers of popular songs, embracing your inner child with easy children’s songs or watching music videos with subtitles.
You can learn about pop culture and history
By learning with Chinese music, you open your world up to new songs, pop icons and music legends through the ages. You might find, for instance, that some of the best Chinese songs are from movie soundtracks, which will lead you to discover Chinese movies, celebrities and beyond.
You can learn beyond the classroom and textbooks
When it comes to studying, processing and applying new information in your everyday life, textbooks can only teach us so much. It’s all about real world application, and music is an awesome method for testing your pronunciation and vocabulary knowledge, without the pressures of the classroom.
Where to Listen to the Best Chinese Songs
If you’re not sure what Chinese songs to download, check out these online resources to help you see what’s out there.
Want to know what native speakers are listening to these days? Spotify is full of playlists with top hits that you can listen to while on the go. And what’s awesome about this music streaming app is that some songs will display the lyrics, powered by Genius, making it easier for you to sing along.
If you aren’t ready to be singing Chinese songs in public just yet, YouTube videos are handy for getting your practice in. YouTube is full of karaoke-style videos, some even including English translations so you understand what you’re singing and not simply memorizing the pinyin subtitles.
Karaoke Mobile Apps
There’s quite a selection of karaoke apps out there, and many include songs in foreign languages.
But if you’re specifically after an app for Chinese songs, a great choice to get is 酷我音乐 (kù wǒ yīnyuè), or Kuwo Music. You can add sound effects and change the background, basically making your own music videos to share with your friends. You can even participate in competitions and win some prizes.
Last but not least, there’s FluentU. Not only do we have a ton of karaoke suggestions on our blog and dedicated YouTube channel, but we’ve also got an extensive library full of music videos and other media clips, complete with interactive subtitles, multimedia flashcards, quizzes and more to make your language learning journey as entertaining as possible.
All the information you need is included in each video, saving you the trouble of opening up other apps to look up definitions.
Now let’s get on with that list of Chinese KTV songs.
10 of the Best Chinese Songs of All Time for Your Next KTV Party
1. 萧亚轩《一个人的精彩》(Xiāo Yǎxuān “yīgèrén de jīngcǎi”) — Elva Hsiao’s “My Exciting Solitary Life”
A Taiwanese pop star who rose to fame after winning a singing competition in 1998, Elva Hsiao has had one successful album after the other, all with catchy tunes like this one. As a kid, I always referred to this as the 头发甩甩 (tóufǎ shuǎi shuǎi) song.
(tóufa shuǎi shuǎi dà bù de zǒu kāi)
Tossing my hair, striding away
(bù liánmǐn xīndǐ xiǎo xiǎo bēi’āi)
Deep in my heart, I have no pity and very little sorrow
(huīshǒu Bye-Bye zhù nǐmen yúkuài)
Waving bye-bye, good luck to you all
(wǒ huì yīgè rén huó de jīngcǎi)
I can live brilliantly on my own
甩 (shuǎi) — to toss; to leave behind
怜悯 (liánmǐn) — pity; remorse
心底 (xīndǐ) — deep in the heart; bottom of the heart
悲哀 (bēi’āi) — sorrow (n.); sorrowful (adj.)
挥 (huī) — to wave; to command
活 (huó) — to live
精彩 (jīngcǎi) — brilliant; wonderful
Other Grammar Points:
得 (dé) is a degree complement that follows a verb to describe the intensity of the verb, thus turning 精彩 from an adjective into an adverb. So Elva Hsiao is actually expressing that she’ll live very brilliantly on her own, though we would never say that in English since “brilliant” is considered as the highest degree of intensity already.
2. 邓丽君《月亮代表我的心》(Dèng Lìjūn “yuèliang dàibiǎo wǒ de xīn”) — Teresa Teng’s “The Moon Represents My Heart”
Having revolutionized the Chinese pop culture scene back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Teresa Teng’s music is still being covered by artists today. A true Taiwanese cultural icon, “The Moon Represents My Heart” is only one of the few songs that you can sing along to with your Chinese and Taiwanese friends.
You can watch and listen to this song on FluentU with interactive dual-language subtitles. Use FluentU’s powerful learning program to help you make the most from this song, as well as a few other songs on this list.
(qīng qīng de yīgè wěn, yǐjīng dǎdòng wǒ de xīn)
One soft kiss has already moved my heart
(shēn shēn de yīduàn qíng, jiào wǒ sīniàn dào rújīn)
A deep affection taught me to long until now
轻轻 (qīng qīng) — lightly; gently; softly
打动 (dǎdòng) — to move someone deeply
深深 (shēn shēn) — deep; profound
段 (duàn) — measure word for periods of time, sections, etc.
情 (qíng) — affection; feeling; love; relationship
思念 (sīniàn) — to long for; to miss; to think of
如今 (rújīn) — now; nowadays; currently
3. 田馥甄《小幸运》(Tián Fùzhēn “xiǎo xìngyùn”) — Hebe Tien’s “A Little Luck”
“A Little Luck” is the theme song from the famous 2015 romance film 我的少女時代 (wǒ de shàonǚ shídài), or “Our Times” in English. It’s the highest grossing Taiwanese film at the Chinese box office, so it’s guaranteed that your Chinese friends will have at least heard of the song.
Check out the song on FluentU for the full learning experience.
(ài shàng nǐ de shíhòu, hái bù dǒng gǎnqíng)
When I fell in love with you, I didn’t understand my feelings yet
(líbiéle, cái juédé kègǔmíngxīn)
Only after parting did I realize you were unforgettable
(wèishénme méiyǒu fāxiàn yùjiànle nǐ shì shēngmìng zuì hǎo de shìqíng)
Why didn’t I realize that meeting you was the best thing in life?
爱上 (ài shàng) — to fall in love
懂 (dǒng) — to understand
离别 (líbié) — to part from; to leave (on a journey)
才 (cái) — only
刻骨铭心 (kègǔmíngxīn) — unforgettable (idiom); inscribed to the heart
遇见 (yùjiàn) — to meet; to come across
生命 (shēngmìng) — life
事情 (shìqíng) — thing; matter; issue
4. 李谷一《难忘今宵》(Lǐ Gǔyī “nánwàng jīnxiāo”) — Li Guyi’s “Tonight Is Unforgettable”
To truly impress your patriotic friends and get everyone to sing along with you, put this song on the list. It’s a folk tune that’s sort of like the unofficial anthem of Chinese New Year, as it’s often performed during the annual celebrations. So don’t be surprised if people stand up with you when this starts playing.
(nánwàng jīnxiāo, nánwàng jīnxiāo)
Tonight is unforgettable, tonight is unforgettable
(wúlùn tiānyá yǔ hǎi jiǎo)
It doesn’t matter if you are at the ends of the earth or sea
(shénzhōu wànlǐ tóng huáibào)
We are all in the same embrace of our vast country
难忘 (nánwàng) — memorable; unforgettable
今宵 (jīnxiāo) — tonight
无论 (wúlùn) — no matter what; no matter how; regardless
天涯海角 (tiānyáhǎi jiǎo) — separated worlds apart (idiom); the edge of heaven and the corner of the sea
与 (yǔ) — versus; and
神州 (shénzhōu) — old name for China; the Divine Land
万里 (wànlǐ) — miles
怀抱 (huáibào) — in arms; embrace
5. 赵咏华《最浪漫的事》(Zhào Yǒnghuá “zuì làngmàn de shì”) — Cyndi Chao’s “The Most Romantic Thing”
This song by Taiwanese actress and singer Cyndi Chao is considered to be one of the best Chinese love songs, despite the fact that the lyrics don’t include the word “love” in them.
(wǒ néng xiǎngdào zuì làngmàn de shì)
The most romantic thing I could imagine
(jiùshì hé nǐ yīqǐ màn man biàn lǎo)
Is to grow older with you
(yī lùshàng shōucáng diǎn diǎndī dī de huānxiào)
Along the way, collecting bits and pieces of laughter
(liú dào yǐhòu zuòzhe yáoyǐ màn màn liáo)
We could talk about it later while slowly rocking in our chairs
浪漫 (làngmàn) — romantic
变老 (biàn lǎo) — to age; to grow old
收藏 (shōucáng) — to collect
点点滴滴 (diǎn diǎndī dī) — bit by bit; bits and pieces
欢笑 (huānxiào) — laugh; laughter
摇椅 (yáoyǐ) — rocking chair
聊 (liáo) — to chat; to kill time
6. 曲婉婷《我的歌声里》(Qū Wǎn tíng “wǒ de gēshēng lǐ”) — Wanting Qu’s “You Exist in My Song”
Better known as Wanting, this artist is a singer-songwriter who’s also a pianist, as you can tell from this music video. With over 159 million views on YouTube, “You Exist in My Song” is definitely one to add to your karaoke repertoire.
This song is also available on FluentU with dual-language interactive subtitles.
(nǐ cúnzài wǒ shēn shēn de nǎohǎi lǐ)
You exist deep within my mind
(wǒ de mèng lǐ wǒ de xīnlǐ wǒ de gēshēng lǐ)
Within my dreams, within my heart, within my song
存在 (cúnzài) — to exist
脑海 (nǎohǎi) — brain; mind
梦 (mèng) — dream
歌声 (gēshēng) — singing voice
7. 周华健《朋友》(Zhōu Huájiàn “péngyǒu”) — Emil Chau’s “Friends”
If there was ever a Chinese equivalent to Vitamin C’s “Graduation,” it would be this song. “Friends” is a relatively easy tune to sing along to, and it’ll have people reminiscing about all the memories of school graduations and the good ol’ days.
Check out “Friends” on FluentU and take the followup quiz to ensure that you learn every word.
(péngyou yīshēng yīqǐ zǒu, nàxiē rìzi bù zài yǒu)
Those days where friends walk for life together no longer exist
(yījù huà, yībèizi, yīshēng qíng, yībēi jiǔ)
In one word, one lifetime, one life of love, one glass of wine
(péngyou bùcéng gūdānguò, yīshēng péngyou nǐ huì dǒng)
Friends have never been lonely before, a word of “friend” and you will understand
(hái yǒu shāng, hái yǒu tòng, hái yào zǒu, hái yǒu wǒ)
There is still hurt, there is still pain, we still have to go on, and you still have me
句 (jù) — measure word for lines of speech, sentences, etc.
一辈子 (yībèizi) — lifetime
不曾 (bùcéng) — never; not yet
孤单 (gūdān) — alone; lonely
声 (shēng) — measure word for sounds, declarations, statements, etc.
伤 (shāng) — wound; injury; pain
痛 (tòng) — grief; anguish; sorrow; sadness; pain
8. 周杰伦《安静》(Zhōu Jiélún “ānjìng”) — Jay Chou’s “Silence”
Whether you listen to Chinese music or not, there’s no doubt that you’ve at least heard of Jay Chou. And if you’re one of the few who haven’t, you might have seen him play Seth Green’s sidekick in “The Green Hornet.”
He’s got a ton of chart-topping tracks for you to choose from, including this ballad.
(wǒ xiǎng nǐ yǐ biǎoxiàn de fēicháng míngbái)
I think that you have already made it very clear
(wǒ dǒng wǒ yě zhīdào)
I understand and I know
(nǐ méiyǒu shěbùdé)
You are not reluctant to go
表现 (biǎoxiàn) — to show; to express; to display
辈子 (bèizi) — lifetime
舍不得 (shěbùdé) — to hate to part with; to begrudge
S.H.E. is a famous Taiwanese girl group that’s best known from their mandopop hit “Super Star,” which comes from the eponymous album, their fourth and arguably biggest studio album ever released.
(shǒu bùshì shǒu shì wēnróu de yǔzhòu)
A hand is not a hand, it is a gentle universe
(wǒ zhè kē xiǎo xīngqiú jiù zài nǐ shǒuzhōng zhuàndòng)
And I am a small planet spinning in your hand
(qǐng kànjiàn wǒ ràng wǒ yǒu mèng kěyǐ zuò)
Please look at me, let me dream
(wǒ wèi nǐ fāle fēng nǐ bìxū jiǎnglì wǒ)
I am crazy for you, you must reward me
温柔 (wēnróu) — soft; gentle; tender
宇宙 (yǔzhòu) — universe; cosmos
颗 (kē) — measure word for small spheres, pearls, grains, teeth, hearts, satellites, etc.
星球 (xīngqiú) — alone; lonely
中 (zhōng) — in; among; during
转动 (zhuàndòng) — to turn around; to swivel
做梦 (zuòmèng) — to dream; to day dream
疯 (fēng) — insane; mad; wild
必须 (bìxū) — to have to; must
奖励 (jiǎnglì) — to reward
10. 周深《大鱼》(Zhōu Shēn “dà yú”) — Zhou Shen’s “Big Fish”
From the beautiful epic fantasy film “Big Fish & Begonia” comes this theme song, with lyrics and musical accompaniment just as colorful and lovely as the movie’s animations. Fun fact about the singer: it’s actually a man using his falsetto voice!
(kàn hǎitiān yīsè tīng fēng qǐ yǔ luò)
Look at how the sea and sky are the same color, hear the wind rising and rain falling
(zhí zǐ shǒu chuī sàn cāngmángmáng yānbō)
Taking your hand, blowing away the vast, hazy mist
(dà yú de chìbǎng yǐjīng tài liáokuò)
The wings of the big fish are already too wide
(wǒ sōng kāi shíjiān de shéngsuǒ)
I let go of the rope of time
执 (zhí) — to hold
吹散 (chuī sàn) — to blow off; to disperse
苍茫茫 (cāngmángmáng) — boundless; vast; hazy
烟波 (yānbō) — mist covered water
翅膀 (chìbǎng) — wing
辽阔 (liáokuò) — vast; extensive
松开 (sōng kāi) — to release; to untie; to come loose
绳索 (shéngsuǒ) — rope
With these 10 best Chinese songs in your karaoke repertoire, you’re sure to be a big hit at the next KTV night out. Plus, they’re excellent for improving your Mandarin Chinese skills!
But don’t worry about learning all these songs. Honestly, knowing just one or two of these tunes is enough to impress your Chinese friends at the next KTV session.
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