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There's a sweet dizziness to Cantopop fandom that's reminiscent of the innocent bobby-sox frenzy of the Sinatra years. At Lau concerts, his fans hold up flash cards that spell out his name in English; a group of votaries rented a minibus and trailed him from one Taiwan concert to the next. (In return, each year around his birthday, Lau attends parties thrown by his fan clubs.) If fans don't stalk the stars, the insatiable paparazzi do. "They follow me everywhere," says Leslie Cheung. "I don't even put my litter outside the house anymore. People try to find things and sell them."
Amid the hype and hard work, Cantopop is maturing. "We Chinese have changed so much over the years," says crooner Leon Lai. "Our position in the world changed. So our music has changed too." But no one wants it to change too much. Any music that has so many millions of fans around the world has to be doing something right.
--Reported by Kate Drake, Joyce Huang and Stephen Short/Hong Kong