First sight: Taylor Swift makes video with Yundi Li

First sight: Taylor Swift makes video with Yundi Li


norman lebrecht

April 21, 2015

We like Taylor Swift.

She might be a mass phenomenon, but she makes donations to her local orchestra and she keeps her music clean.

Now she has hooked up with the hottest classical pianist in China to make a motor ad.

You see it here first.


UPDATE: No longer here. Lawyers acting for Toyota have claimed corporate copyright in the video and asked us to take it down. You can continue to watch it on Yundi’s Facebook page.

Sorry for the extra click.


  • Alvaro Mendizabal says:

    Norman. Berta Rojas, classical guitarist, made a commercial for Toyota in her native Paraguay last year. She has more FB fans than Valentina Lisita, was nominated twice for a Latin Grammy. She even appeared in the official broadcast of the Latin Grammies presenting a prize.

    If it wasn’t for this post, would you have EVER heard her name? Thats how distanced Classical Guitar is from the classical world. Now, if she has more Facebook fans than Lisitsa and has all these accolades, why isnt the classical world crazy about her? Maybe Toyota commercials are not that important.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Interesting point about the classical guitar, Alvaro, and about Toyota. Berta has 110,000 FB fans but far fewer Youtube hits than Lisitsa.

      • Alvaro Mendizabal says:

        Certainly Norman. I recently spoke with a senior executive from Google and even he happened to know about Valentina. However, as I discussed with him, I mentioned my doubts about Youtube as a means to disintermediate . In this case, I think Valentina’s Youtube claims are simply a means of differentiation. Just as Calleja is “The Maltese Tenor”, she is “The Youtube Pianist”. It was not until Valentina started working with Ms. Dorn that Decca, Royal Albert Hall, etc, started to happen. She had the Youtube following for years, but her real breakthrough came via the traditional channels (Management/Labels).

        IMHO Youtube & Facebook have not disrupted anything, and in fact give false hopes to aspiring musicians who believe that all they need is a big FB or Youtube following to “make it”. On the contrary, I think it has made the prior channels even more important for the artists. With fewer labels, and fewer signings per label (and CD’s released) I ponder if a Sony/DG contract weights even more nowadays than 20 years ago.

        As per Yundi, well. It seems its policy of Toyota to appeal to the local public. Much better positioning than his other Chinese counterpart during the Grammy’s.

        BTW, I just finished reading your book (Life and Death…) and it was so revealing. So much makes sense. Thanks for writing that. A true inspiration!

  • CDH says:

    She’ll have a ton more to donate after this. They pay mega for these ads in Asia.

  • Nick says:

    Nothing wrong with being a mass phenomenon when you are as talented as Taylor Swift. Sadly, though, I do not believe Yundi is the hottest classical pianist in China. That dubious title belongs elsewhere. He is though the most talented. And how refreshing for Toyota’s marketing people to team up these two young artists.

  • Milka says:

    A buck is a buck however one earns it .
    Yundi strives hard in every direction but sadly will never be the “bride ”
    In the Chinese pubic eye there is only one pianist and it ain’t Yundi.

    • Nick says:

      Agreed, but Yundi still has tens of millions of followers in China and his concert and recitals, for which he receives massive fees (by any standard), are invariably sold out well in advance. In 2013 all 33 recitals and concerts on his “Dream Tour” around China sold out in 12 minutes. In the same year, !he had no fewer than 11 albums in the top 15 of China’s classical music charts – unprecedented even in China.

      He is just far less interested in the cult of personality than the “other” pianist.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    What on earth is “clean” music?

    • cabbagejuice says:

      If singing is involved that entails text. As for “clean”, one supposes this is what passes for it in the XXIst Century:
      “Blank Space”
      I could show you incredible things: magic, madness, heaven, sin
      Saw you there and I thought oh my god
      Look at that face, you look like my next mistake…
      Grab your passport and my hand I could make the bad guys good for a weekend! So it’s gonna be forever or it’s gonna go down in flames?
      You can tell me when it’s over If the high was worth the pain.
      Got a long list of ex-lovers. They’ll tell you I’m insane.
      Cause you know I love the players And you love the game
      Who is she? I get drunk on jealousy But you’ll come back each time you leave Cause darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.
      Got a long list of ex-lovers They’ll tell you I’m insane But I got a blank space baby and I’ll write your name.
      Boys only want love if it’s torture Don’t say I didn’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • Jules says:

    Not on Yundi’s FB page now, either.

  • C says:

    If you think Yundi is still talented or at a concert pianist level, you might want to check this out: