You might have thought the boy band era was over. Well clearly, it’s not.
Meet Fahrenheit. After being together for just a few short years, the four-member group from Taiwan has made its mark as Asia’s biggest heartthrob act, selling millions of records and even becoming spokespersons for the island nation.
Having conquered much of Asia, Wu Chun, Jiro Wang, Calvin Chen and Aaron Yan now have their sights set on North America.
Last week, Fahrenheit sent two of its performers to guest star in the tenth anniversary of Sunshine Nation Finale — an annual star search conducted throughout Metro Vancouver by Fairchild Media.
Apparently, two members is all it takes to generate the required amount of hype. Within one hour of going on sale, tickets for last Friday’s concert were completely sold out.
The group’s representative duo, Calvin Chen, who won the Sunshine Nation competition in 2004, and Aaron Yan, easily managed to sell out the Michael J. Fox Centre in Burnaby.
Not bad for a boy group with three out of four of its members aged 28 - virtual geriatrics in today’s youth-obsessed music industry.
No matter. They still attract fans half their age. Fainting, screaming and blowing kisses, Vancouver’s Asian-Canadian teenyboppers scrambled to get a glimpse of the two stars before they pushed their way into the Fairchild studio for a radio interview.
With two albums that continue to top charts, the group has sold millions of copies and continues to sell out concerts across Asia. Their debut, self-titled album, sold 80,000 copies within the first month of its release in 2006.
Chen, who is the latest member to join the group after having been discovered on the Sunshine Nation search in 2004, was earning his Masters in Economics at the University of Victoria when a Taiwan record label asked him to visit their headquarters based on his performance in the talent search.
But his father, Chen explained, did not support his dreams for fame and demanded that he stay in school. Determined to explore the possibility of a singing career, Calvin, 28, secretly hopped on a plane to Taiwan to meet with executives from the record label.
So much for a career in stocks and market shares.
Sitting next to Yan the day before the concert, Chen marveled at how far he has come since winning the competition four years ago. To be able to preform as a Fahrenheit member at the very talent search finale that made him a star seemed unreal, he laughed.
“It feels really good to be back. Vancouver has changed a lot since I was here last, especially Richmond and Robson Street,” he told the Asian Pacific Post, referring to the bustling suburb and Vancouver’s trendiest shopping neighborhood.
As the latest and greatest pop culture export from Taiwan, Fahrenheit has replaced F4 (also a four-boy band) as spokespersons for the country’s tourism industry in a bid to boost the number of tourists visiting Taiwan this year by seven per cent.
“Since F4 has proved quite effective in attracting young people to visit Taiwan, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau is continuing its strategy of using a ‘heartthrob’ band to present a vibrant and dynamic image of Taiwan,” Brian Su, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office press division director in Vancouver told the Asian Pacific Post.
“Fahrenheit will help attract young fans between the age of 18 and 30 to visit Taiwan as part of their fan-club activities. It’s been known that a lot of fans from abroad went to Taiwan to meet with the members of the band. While these fans stayed in Taiwan, a bit of sightseeing or shopping would generate tourism dollars.”
So far, it seems the strategy is working. Taiwan’s tourism increased by $36.6 million in 2007 alone. The number of tourists from Japan and South Korea also increased 15 per cent the same year, added Su.
According to the Tourism Bureau, Fahrenheit will shoot television commercials, appear on special travel episodes of Japanese television programs and hold fan gatherings both at home and abroad.
While Chen and Yan insist that Fahrenheit did not intentionally dethrone F4 as Taiwan’s top boys, the two bands are often compared to each other with whole chat rooms dedicated to debates on who deserves the title as Taiwan’s most talented sweethearts.
Modesty aside, the members of Fahrenheit have been able to market themselves as singers, actors and models. They are extremely popular around Asia for their roles in Taiwanese dramas such as KO One, Romantic Princess, Hana Kimi and Tokyo Juliet.
Their pretty faces have also made them prime targets for a range of products from vanilla chapstick to Hong Kong’s Disney Land.
But they still haven’t learned to write their own songs, Chen admits, which is not unusual for today’s pop stars. Malaysian born songwriter, Chen Xin Yan pens most of their songs as, “he know all four of our personalities so well.”
Each member of the group represents a season and temperature symbolic of his personality. Yan is winter at 41 degrees, Zun is autumn at 59 degrees, Chen is spring at 77 degrees, and Wang is summer at 95 degrees.
It is unclear how they chose those specific temperatures, but Fahrenheit has successfully turned itself into one hot commodity.
Credits: Asian Fanatics
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