In 2003, Jolin Tsai asked people to watch her 72 transformations with the song Magic. It is perhaps this chameleonic quality that has helped the Taiwanese singer stay relevant and popular throughout her two-decades-long career. Ahead, we take a dive to find out who the real Jolin Tsai is, a Chinese pop singer most of us grew up listening to. Here are 12 facts you should know about her:
In 1998, Jolin Tsai participated in an MTV Mandarin television singing competition show and eventually emerged as champion. This set the course for her to eventually be signed with Universal Music Taiwan and kickstart her singing career. Prior to this competition, Jolin Tsai also participated in multiple singing competitions in her high school year.
Following her signing, she released her debut single Living with the World and album 1019 in 1999 which went on to be a commercial hit selling over 450 thousand copies in Taiwan. Since then, Jolin Tsai has gone on to sell over 25 million records throughout her career with albums such as Dancing Diva (2006), Myself (2010) and Ugly Beauty (2018). She is also recognised as one of the highest-selling female recording artist in Taiwan since 2010.
But beyond just being a commercial success, Jolin Tsai’s music has also been lauded by the music industry. In total, Jolin Tsai has been nominated for 15 Golden Melody Awards, the Chinese equivalent of the Grammy Awards, and has taken home seven. The most recent of them were the Album of the Year for Ugly Beauty and Song of the Year for the track Womxnly.
Perhaps, one of the reasons for Jolin Tsai’s immense success in the singing world is because she controls her own music. In 2009, she founded Eternal Music Production with talent manager Ke Fu-hung. The company manages her business affairs and allows Jolin Tsai full creative control of her works.
In a report by Apple Daily, Jolin Tsai was named the third highest-earning Taiwanese singer for the first half of 2022. She was estimated to have earned S$3.8 million thanks to multiple endorsements, placing her behind Jay Chou (S$21.4 million) and Jam Hsiao (S$7.9 million). Jolin Tsai is also the top-earning female ahead of fourth and fifth place Ella Chen (S$1.9 million) and Hebe Tian (S$927k).
At a Golden Melody Awards post-party in 2019, Jolin Tsai revealed that she was so nervous that she endured an upset stomach through the ceremony. But just before she took to the stage for her Album of the Year win, she found a rather unconventional solution to destress.
“Before I went on stage, I shouted a very loud ‘f***!’ and my stomach immediately felt better, so that was very interesting. So I think whenever you’re feeling very anxious or facing any bulls*** in life, just scream ‘f***!’.”
In 2019, Jolin Tsai fired back at the Taiwanese media outlet Mirror Media. The company ran photos that she had taken while celebrating her birthday in Pattaya, Thailand with a headline that focused on her breasts. They also drew attention to her sitting position, adding that it could lead to accidental exposure.
Jolin Tsai responded with a Facebook post that asked “When a series of articles mentions the G-cup breasts in the headline, what type of sex education is received by readers?” Her response drew support from netizens and even Taiwan’s Education Ministry, who said that it was time to revise the sex education curriculum.
Since the start of her career, Jolin Tsai has been prolific in her philanthropic efforts. Besides donating to people and causes who have been impacted by natural disasters and global pandemics, she has also thrown her weight behind a variety of social welfare causes from schools to civil partnership advocacy groups alike. In 2021, Jolin Tsai also donated a smart bento box vending machine to the Wanhua District as they were struck by a Covid-19 surge.
Jolin Tsai has used her platform to champion for LGBTQ+ rights throughout her career and she has become among the most notable icons that support the issue. We’re All Different, Yet The Same is one of the most pointed ones, as it depicts the hardships of a same-sex relationship that does not have equal legal rights.
On using herself as a platform, Jolin Tsai shared this in a 2017 Billboard interview. “I have many LGBTQ friends and fans, and many of these music videos and songs were made to share their real-life stories and real emotions. I see myself as a platform, through which these stories can be told as songs, so that people can learn to treat relationships or live[s that are] differently from their own with a calm attitude. Everyone has his/her ups and downs, tears and laughter regardless of gender and sexual orientation. For example, the story of “We’re All Different, Yet the Same” is a real-life story I heard from the director, Leste Chen. I was very moved and sad when I heard it. I really hope my friends will never have to deal with the same difficult situation again, so I turned it into a song and a music video, hoping this will make people face this sad reality. I also hope one day such heartbreaking stories can be stopped from happening again.”
As one of the most visible C-pop artists, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Jolin Tsai has been caught in multiple political crossfires. In 2021, Chinese cyber-nationalists criticised the singer for supposedly exhibiting pro-Taiwanese independence sentiments after she showed support for Taiwanese athletes at the Tokyo Olympic Games. In 2022, Jolin Tsai was once again under fire after American House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a surprise visit to Taiwan. She was said to have caught the flak after showing her support for the #ThereIsOnlyOneChina hashtag.
In February 2023, Jolin Tsai went on a holiday to Bangkok, Thailand. Of the many sights she saw, one of them was the MahaNakhon skyscraper. At the top of the skyscraper is the SkyWalk outdoor observation deck, which sits 314m above sea level. The star posted a video of her attempting to walk across the glass platform while screaming, “Oh my god!” in fear. Eventually, Jolin Tsai got over the fear of heights and even teased her friend to join her in enjoying the skyline of the capital city.
Fans would know that Jolin Tsai isn’t afraid to push boundaries. In the post above, one of her Ugly Beauty concert outfits made netizens do a double take as it seemed as though her nipples were clearly visible from the sexy, high-slit dress. In the end, her manager came forward to explain that the dress’ visual effects were created with a 3D scanning of a body and it wasn’t Jolin Tsai’s actual body in full display.
The singer reportedly joked during the concert by asking fans if there was “anyone looking at my face? Or are you looking at my ‘assets’?”