Hua Chenyu, also known as Hua Hua, is a Chinese singer, songwriter, and musician. Hua is widely known for his incredible vocal abilities, intense stage performances, and genre-defying musical composition and arrangement skills. He is considered one of the most influential Chinese musicians under thirty.
Hua Chenyu (华晨宇 in Simplified Chinese, 華晨宇 in Traditional Chinese; click to hear the pronunciation) was born on February 7th, 1990 with a silver spoon in his mouth semi-literally, since his father owns a silver mining company. His parents divorced when he was fairly young. Hua lived with his father, who was busy expanding his silver mining business at the time and was seldom home. As a result, Hua was brought up by a revolving door of nannies. At first, little Hua-hua would try his best to drive the nanny-of-the-month away in the hope that it would lead to his father returning home to take care of him. During his lonely childhood filled with solitude and time spent staring at the white wall for prolonged periods of time, Hua learned to play instrument after instrument after instrument… Seriously, the dude can play like a dozen instruments ranging from the flute, piano, guitar, drums, to traditional Chinese instruments like erhu.
At the age of fifteen, Hua moved away from home and started living in Wuhan by himself. Hua attended high school in Wuhan and it was during that period that he started practicing zazen (a form of meditation) regularly. Hua claimed to have figured out the ultimate answer to life and one’s position in the universe during that period.
After graduating high school in 2009, Hua attended Wuhan Conservatory of Music, where he formed a band called Kangxi. The band name is a tribute to a famous Chinese band Tang Dynasty. The band had performed at various local music events and festivals and even enjoyed slight fame in the Guanggu area.
Hua was lured into the Superboy audition by the promise of free food. During the audition, Hua sang a self-written song called “A Song with No Words” that does not have lyrics, only varied forms of humming, which begot him the epithet of “Martian boy” by the Chinese media. One judge, Cai Guoqing, dubbed him “either a genius or an idiot”, to which another judge, Shang Wenjie, immediately replied, “Oh, he’s definitely a genius.” Hua’s unique form of wordless humming was dubbed “the Martian language” by the media. After the initial hiccup, Hua continued on to win the entire competition, which earned him a record deal with EE-Media.
On January 30, 2014, Hua performed “In a Place Far Away” on CCTV’s New Year’s Gala. On June 28, tickets to Hua’s first concert, Mars Concert 2014, were sold out in a record 1 minute and 35 seconds. With such a hot response, an additional concert date was added and was again sold out in a new record of 1 minute and 32 seconds. On September 6, QQ Music and Mango TV broadcasted Hua’s debut concert live simultaneously to a total of more than 400,000 online viewers, setting a new record for the highest number of simultaneous viewers of a celebrity concert in China. Over 120,000 online-viewing tickets were sold, setting a new record of most tickets sold of a celebrity concert in China. This was also the first attempt at a paid O2O business model for a celebrity concert in China.
On September 12, 2014, Hua released his debut album, Quasimodo’s Gift, to critical acclaim. The overseas version of the album stayed at the top of Taiwan’s 5music sales chart for several weeks. On November 24, Hua’s episode on the music show Hi Song was broadcasted. His song “Spring (春)” went on to win the Hi Song of the Year award.
On January 1, 2015, Hua performed at Liaoning TV’s New Year’s Gala. On February 17, Hua joined Liaoning TV’s Chinese New Year’s Gala. On April 27, Hua released his vocal experiment song called “Cancer”.
On May 23, tickets for Mars Concert 2015 sold out in 35 seconds with 160,000 online users, breaking the record of online ticket sales. Two new concert dates were added. On August 1, Hua’s concert was broadcast live on Tencent Video and Mango TV with a record-breaking 2.64 million online viewers.
On October 28, Hua released his second album, Aliens. After only one day of sales, the sales volume for the physical album ranked No. 1 on all three of Jingdong’s daily, weekly and monthly sales charts. On November 7, Hua’s first digital album sold 100,000 copies in 8 minutes. The overseas version of Aliens was released on December 22. Hua also joined the music reality show Be the Idol (唱游天下) by Jiangsu TV, which was first aired on November 13.
On January 8, 2016, Hua joined pianist Lang Lang’s concert Lang Lang De Tiankong (郎朗的天空) as a guest star. On February 8, Hua performed “For My Future Child” on BTV’s Chinese New Year’s Eve Gala. On March 4, Hua guest-starred and performed a humorous rendition of comedian Xie Na’s famous meme song “Abracadabra (菠萝菠萝蜜)” on the variety show Ace vs Ace (王牌对王牌) on ZhejiangTV. On March 7, Hua performed interlude song “The Rampage (横冲直撞)” for the movie 睡在我上铺的兄弟. On April 7, Hua released the titular song for the reality show Mars Intelligence Agency. On July 1, Hua guest-starred on the last episode of the Chinese version of Running Man Season 4. The 2016 Mars Concert Tour began on July 2 in Beijing. The Shanghai and Shenzhen Mars concerts were broadcast on LeTV live, with a total of more than 4.3 million viewers. On July 8, Hua wrote theme song “Here We Are” for the movie The Linewalker (使徒行者).
Hua was a judge on DragonTV’s new music variety show The Next (天籁之战) where contestants get to challenge judges who are famous musicians in a sing-off. The show was aired from October 2016 to January 2017. On Episode 3, a contestant challenged Hua to sing a viral meme song “My Skateboard Shoes”. Hua rewrote the entire song in 24 hours and his rewritten version of “My Skateboard Shoes 2016” went viral on Youtube as well as Chinese social media.
On December 2, Hua won MAMA 2016’s Best Asian Artist (China).
On March 14, 2017, Hua was announced the celebrity spokesperson for Six God (六神). On April 17, reality travel show Divas Hit the Road (花儿与少年) released theme song “Seek (寻)” composed by Hua Chenyu. On June 3, Hua joined reality travel show Flowers on Trip (旅途的花样).
Hua was a judge on Tencent’s new singing competition show The Coming One (明日之子), where his support for contestant Hez, a humanoid persona created using augmented reality and singing voice synthesizer technologies, sparked controversy on Chinese social media. The first episode of the show started live-streaming on June 10.
On July 13, Hua was announced brand ambassador of Estee Lauder China. On September 27, mobile MMO game Kings of Glory (王者荣耀) released theme song for game character Luban by Hua Chenyu. 2017 Mars Concert was held on October 13 and 14 in Beijing Cadillac Arena. This time, only one of the concert dates was broadcast live online and it alone gathered more than 4 million live viewers. Starting from September, Hua reprised his role as a judge on Season 2 of The Next (天籁之战).
In February 2018, Hua joined Singer 2018 after turning the show down for three years. Hua was on the show from Episode 4 on and finished runner-up to Jessie J. Hua’s performance of his self-written song “Heaven’s Equal (齐天)” won Most Popular Song of the show. From June to September, Hua reprised his role as one of the regular coaches on Season Two of Tencent’s singing competition show The Coming One (明日之子). On June 2, Hua was announced to endorse Samsung’s new Galaxy phone, the A9 Star.
On June 23, tickets for Hua’s 2018 Mars Concert at the Bird’s Nest, famously known for hosting the 2008 Olympics and its 90,000 seating capacity, were sold out in 1 minute and 56 seconds. A second date was added and was again sold out in 2 minutes and 58 seconds. After holding back-to-back Mars Concerts on September 8 and 9, Hua became the youngest solo artist and first solo artist under thirty to ever hold a concert, let alone two, at the Bird’s Nest. On August 29, Hua released chart-topping new single, “Jackdaw Boy (寒鸦少年)”. On December 12, Hua won Musician of the Year at Harper’s BAZAAR 2018 Men of the Year awards and Most Searched Across Asia at 2018 Yahoo Asia Buzz Awards.
At the start of the year, Hua performed at Hunan TV’s 2019 New Year’s Eve Gala and launched an official Weibo account for his new personal workshop. Hua parted ways with his old manager, Wang Guihong, and hired Qiao Kexuan as his new manager. On January 11, Hua won Best Musician of the Year at 2018 Weibo Night. On January 13, Hua collaborated with renowned choreographer and director Shen Wei on a postmodern performance titled “Folding” at 2019 Yin-Trend Music Night. Hua joined Season 4 of Zhejiang TV’s celebrity game show Trump Card (王牌对王牌) starting from January 25. The season finale was aired on April 19. All twelve episodes of Season Four topped the ratings chart, making it the most successful season in the history of the show. On April 24, Hua performed “Mayfly” at the 2019 China Space Day Gala aired on Hunan TV. To promote the event, Hua also filmed a short video in the Chinese Mars Mission Center in Jinchang, Gansu.
The 2019 Mars Concerts was originally set to take place on November 1, 2 and 3 at Shenzhen Bao’an Stadium, but was later postponed due to force majeure. On July 20, tickets for the November 2 Concert sold out in three seconds. An extra date was added due to high demand. Starting from June 15, Hua reprised his role as a coach on singing competition program The Coming One Season Three (All-Girl Version, 明日之子 水晶时代). On July 23, luxury beauty products brand Helena Rubinstein announced Hua Chenyu as one of its brand ambassadors. On August 20, Hua was ranked 33rd on Forbes China’s 2019 Celebrity 100 List. On August 31, Hua Chenyu’s November 3 Mars Concert sold out in 5 seconds. On October 27, Hua Chenyu announced on Weibo that the venue for the 2019 Mars Concerts had been changed to Wuyuan River Stadium (五源河体育馆) in Haikou, Hainan. The concerts were held on November 15, 16 and 17 and were a resounding success. Hua unveiled four new songs — “The Sacred Tree (神树)”, “I Really Want to Love This World (好想爱这个世界啊)”, “Seven Personalities (七重人格)”, and “Mad House (疯人院)” — at the concerts. The last-minute venue change proved to be a huge economic boon for the seaside city. According to local newspaper Hainan Daily, the city’s duty-free shops at Mova Mall clocked 17.6 million yuan in sales for the three days of the concerts. About 8,300 police and security guards were deployed, providing crowd control for more than 120,000 people, some 33,000 special shuttle buses and public vehicles were mobilized specifically for concert goers.
On October 28, Hua Chenyu released new single “Conversations with the Martian Child”.
Hua loves experimenting with new musical ideas and incorporates a wide range of styles and musical elements into his works. He sings and raps, and even combines Kunqu opera and recitations with singing. He has also produced a variety of vocal experiments that have no lyrics. Apart from musical styling, Hua is also meticulous about stage presentation. His live performances are often as visually stimulating as they are auditorily.
Hua composed most of his own songs, but would typically find a lyricist to fill in the words for him. Almost all of Hua’s self-written songs are lyricless in Hua’s original demos. They’re often sung in meaningless gibberish, or “the Martian language” as the media dubs it. Hua believes that the melody alone is sufficient in expressing his ideas and messages, but will go to the trouble of finding some poor lyricist to fill in the lyrics for him to make his works more accessible. I say poor lyricist because Hua often has unusual standards for his lyrics, like whether certain syllables of a line are open vowels or close vowels, and unsuspecting lyricists might end up having to do multiple revisions. Veteran lyricist Lin Xi and Hunan TV’s wordsmith of a copywriter Wu Mengzhi both went through this ordeal and then moaned about it publicly (in good nature though).
Hua rarely releases his lyricless songs to the public, believing them to be too weird or depressing for public consumption. But he did release one lyricless song called “Cancer”. Hua wrote the song for a cancer charity art exhibition and intended for it to be a simulacrum of the desperation cancer patients feel and the rapid reproduction of cancer cells. Originally the event organizers intended to broadcast a recording of the exhibition on TV, but later edited Hua’s song out of the clip for fear that it was too depressing and might cause unwanted legal problems. Hua performed the song at the event and later at a music awards ceremony and several of his own concerts.
Hopeless as Hua is at writing lyrics (he claims that Chinese was one of his worst subjects at school), he did write the lyrics for one of his own songs. It’s called “Why Nobody Fights”. Listening to this song is a great way to understand Hua’s natural aversion to these pesky nuisances we call lyrics. This is the only non-lyricless song for which Hua wrote both the lyrics and the melody.
Hua rarely, if ever, sings about sex, or romance. Many of his songs are about solitude (“Quasimodo’s Gift”, “Miles away from Solitude”), loss of innocence (“Ashes from Fireworks”, “Child”), and seeing the world through a child’s eyes (“The World Is like a Zoo”). He has written a few children’s songs and fairytale-themed songs (“The Melancholy Giant”, “The World Is like a Zoo”), as well as two lullabies (“A Bedtime Story”, “Written for My Future Children”). Most of his fast songs or rock/new metal songs are about fighting against something vast and widely-accepted and undefined. Though the lyrics are never explicit or definitive, my guess is that he’s fighting against whatever force in the world that makes people judge wrong as right, hypocrisy as sincerity, and perverted as righteous (“I’m Bored”, “The Mask”, “I Don’t Care”, “Aliens”, etc.) Hua has also written an environmental song called “Salt of the Earth”.
Hua’s recorded vocal range spans from G2 to B♭5, giving him more than three octaves. Here’s a video compilation of his vocal range.
Hua is a known foodie, anime enthusiast, and car buff. Hua appreciates a wide range of cuisines from Sichuanese to western style dishes. His one food kryptonite is pig’s blood cake, a Taiwanese delicacy that traumatized him when he tried it for the first time in Taiwan. He’s been using that as an excuse to avoid going to Taiwan ever since. Hua is a skilled and responsible driver. On a 2015 car show, he mentioned that he had had no traffic violations, a feat arguably greater than his music achievements if you’ve ever weaved through traffic in China. Hua once said he appreciates creative design rather than speed specs in cars. An avid anime consumer, Hua has a collection of anime figures in his home, displayed in the same cabinet where he put his music awards and trophies. Hua once set the fashion world on its ear by wearing a Tony Tony Chopper (a character from the anime series One Piece) plush hat to the red carpet of the 23rd ERS Chinese Top Ten Awards, with all the swagger and confidence befitting someone who chose to wear an anime plush hat to a high profile white-tie music awards ceremony. Hua is also an avid tea drinker and loves playing snooker and Go in his spare time. He maintains a life style vaguely resembling that of an octogenarian’s where tea drinking, star gazing, zazen practice, playing Go with himself, staying in the bedroom for days without venturing out and the likes are the norm.
- Official sites: Official Weibo account, official Instagram account, official YouTube channel. (Please note that Hua Chenyu has no other social media accounts. The Hua Chenyu-related accounts on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are either fan accounts or fakes.)
- Height: 172 cm (5′ 8″)
- Star sign: Aquarius
Note: This is not an official biography of Hua Chenyu. All information in this biography has been procured from various publicly available interviews and articles and is accurate to the best of the author’s knowledge.