You probably won’t find Justin Timberlake and Mariah Carey on MySpace anytime soon (though you’d find plenty of fans). Things are different in China, though, where networking service 51.com is rolling out “51 Celebrity.” By the end of June, the site will host the official blogs and fan groups for more than 100 Chinese pop singer and actors.
Who’s on the list? Probably no one you’ve heard of, unless you follow Chinese pop music. Then again, plenty of Asian stars make it over to the west (Jackie Chan and Jet Li, anyone?). So look for these names on iTunes before long:
A-Do, a construction worker from Singapore before his discovery by a record producer. Think back to rough-voiced pop rockers like Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart. He’s got a reputation for being shy and down to earth, but still ridiculously popular with teenage girls.
Kung-Fu Pop, maybe taking a cue from Wu-Tang Clan as they mix, well, kung-fu and pop music. It’s an all-boy band that’s so new it doesn’t have an album or a movie to promote yet. Those are expected in the summer.
He's the superstar: Jeff Chang
Jeff Chang, a veteran Taiwanese singer who’s got the “prom song” category all tied up. He’s called “Prince of Love Ballads,” because he sounds like every love ballad singer ever (hey, even Axl Rose got smooth for “Patience”). His songs include: “Somewhere In My Broken Heart” and “Don’t Make Love Difficult.”
All three artists are on China’s Ocean Butterfly label, one of the 11 record companies that have signed a deal with 51.com. The website is unveiling 51 Celebrity later this month with a nation-wide tour of a mystery performer. It also plans to double its video game team to about 100 employees. 51.com plans tests of an online network for casual games starting in August.