Yin: Beijing’s Howie Lee Collaborates with Charli XCX on a Chinese Remix of “Boys”

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5:21 PM HKT, Fri December 8, 2017 1 mins read

Yin (, “music”) is a weekly RADII feature that looks at Chinese songs spanning classical to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.

Like other overseas chart-toppers, British singer and songwriter Charli XCX has recently caught the China bug. On Singles’ Day she shared with her 12,000 Weibo followers a quick teaser for an upcoming just-for-China single, with some handwritten approximations of Chinese lyrics scattered on top of a mixing board:

The teased track has just been released: a Chinese version of Charli’s recent hit “Boys”, sung in (actually decent) Mandarin and remixed by Beijing’s own Howie Lee.

Alex Taggart, a general manager at Beijing-based music industry services company Outdustry overseeing A&R and marketing, helped put this collaboration together. He tells RADII:

I met Charli’s manager in the summer and we’ve been putting this together since then. She said she wanted to collaborate with China’s underground before doing anything with pop stars. She loves Howie and met with him in Beijing.

The result is a pretty taut and pleasingly localized pop confection, mashing Charli XCX’s voice seamlessly with the Howie Lee/Do Hits sonic palette of traditional Chinese instruments polished up and repurposed with 21st century stream-shine. “I think this is going to be the biggest global exposure of legit contemporary Chinese music ever,” Taggart says: “an interesting counterbalance to the Kris Wu thing.” Not sure if he’s referring to the Kris Wu and Travis Scott thing, or the Kris Wu and Pharrell thing, but I agree in either case.

For now, “Boys (Howie Lee Remix)” is only available on Chinese streaming sites; find it on Xiami, QQ Music, and NetEase.

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