Scroll to top


Welcome to this week’s edition of Culture Wire, a newsletter brought to you by Singapore-based pop culture and lifestyle marketing agency Culture Group.

💗First, a quick Taylor Swift update: the Eras tour concert film will get a global release in October, and fans in Manila already broke their local cinemas’ website. All aboard the Taylor Swift news train!

  • Innovation of the Week: Laufey is bringing jazz to young listeners 
  • Fax, No Printer:  Can you guess the star of a new animated film from China? 
  • Regional Round-up: All the gaming updates you need, wellbeing in APAC, and a Gen-AI livestreamer 🤖

Innovation of the Week


If you’ve spent any time on TikTok recently, you probably stumbled across Laufey (pronounced ‘lay-vay’): a 24-year-old Icelandic-Chinese singer and multi-instrumentalist who has helped to turn Gen Z into jazz listeners. She has been charting on Spotify’s Viral 50 and Top Songs playlists in the Philippines and Singapore this month, building on sell-out tour stops in Manila, Jakarta and Singapore. Released earlier this month, her album Bewitched has become the biggest jazz debut in two years. It also broke the all-time record for the biggest jazz album debut on Spotify with 5.7M streams, surpassing Love for Sale (1.1M streams).

💡 Our take

Think of Gen Z and you don’t automatically think of jazz. After all, jazz still retains its image as an inaccessible, ‘highbrow’ music genre that requires a ‘cultured’ ear. Laufey has turned this idea around using TikTok (where she has almost 3M followers) and Instagram (1.5M). The format made the music more accessible, but Laufey’s ability to infuse old sounds with modern lyrics was what really drew younger fans in. As the artist herself observed in a recent interview with Vogue: ‘A lot of jazz standards have very casual language of that day, and I write with the casual language of my day.’

We promised we wouldn’t mention Taylor Swift again in this newsletter but… comparisons have been made (along with Billie Holiday and Julie London). And it’s certainly not a stretch to think that Laufey’s wistful lyrics and nostalgic sound could do for jazz what Swift did for country. After all, it dovetails perfectly with another TikTok trend, the idea of romanticizing your life. Ultimately, Laufey is a reminder that genre doesn’t always matter. If young people feel a connection to the artist and the song, and can discover it on their terms, they’re in

Encoded into that is a lesson for brands and marketers: introducing something new or surprising through familiar elements. Yes, it’s a lesson from the marketing playbook that might be almost as old as the artists Laufey draws inspiration from, but when done well it can still be successful. 

One final point: last week saw a social media exchange between Laufey & LE SSERAFIM’s Huh Yunjin.  A jazz x K-pop collaboration might not be on the cards yet, but it shows how barriers between genres are breaking down and, in the process, are opening up new opportunities for diversity in pop culture. A decade ago, the idea of an Icelandic-Chinese jazz artist finding a route to success via social media was unthinkable. Just consider what the next 10 years might bring!

Fax, No Printer*

For those of you born before 1997, ‘fax, no printer‘ is Gen Z speak for ‘undeniable facts I agree with’

Which museum will appear in an animated film based on a web series aired on Xiaohongshu?

A. Peranakan Museum

B. National Museum of China

C. The British Museum

Scroll down to the end of the newsletter for the correct answer!

Regional Round-up

🍗 To celebrate a collaboration between Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League Singapore (MPL SG) and McDonald’s Singapore, the ‘Turn Gold into Diamonds’ campaign gave fans the chance to win 1.5K Diamonds (MLBB’s in-game currency) when purchasing a chicken bucket. Promo codes also appeared in MPL livestreams. Growing the Singapore esports scene while enhancing the fan experience?  We’re lovin’ it!

🏆 Sticking with gaming: League of Legends (LoL) just confirmed that K-pop girl group New Jeans will perform the anthem for this year’s Worlds Championship, which will take place in South Korea. The new song, called Gods, will be released next week. Continuing on its history of collaborating with other high-profile artists and IPs, LoL is cementing its cultural cool and relevance beyond esports.

🎮 Players in the Philippines have JUMP-ed into the beta test for JUMP:Assemble, which allows them to play as iconic Shonen Jump characters from anime and manga series like Dragon Ball and One Piece. We’ve previously highlighted how brands can help existing anime fans celebrate their passion points in new ways: this is a great example of that! JUMP: Assemble is also set to be released in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

☁️ Our friends at kumu – the biggest livestreaming app from the Philippines – is working with Vertex AI (Google’s enterprise AI platform) to develop AI streamers. The first outcome of the partnership is Crisostomo A.I. Barra, who can answer questions about the country’s history, the Kumu app and pop culture. Whether it’s brainstorming content ideas or outsourcing output, generative AI is already making waves across the creator economy.

🧠 Lululemon just released a Global Wellbeing report and it’s a bleak read: more than 64% of people in APAC say wellbeing is their top priority, but 90% say achieving it is impossible. Zooming in on Gen Z, 46% don’t seek help for their wellbeing because they don’t feel comfortable talking about it. How can you break persistent taboos around mental health through more open and honest conversations?

This Week's Trivia Answer

C. The British Museum

Escape from the British Museum is a three-part web series that racked up over 370M views in the first two weeks of launching on Douyin (you can also watch it on Bilibili). Filmed in Edinburgh and created by Pancakes and Fruit and Summer Sister, it tells the story of a jade teapot that comes to life as it tries to return to China. It will be made into a feature-length animation after receiving approval and backing from the China Film Administration.

Yes, this cute-sounding story hides a layer of complex issues – the growing global call for countries and museums to return items of cultural significance to their home countries. But this newsletter is best-placed to discuss the other aspect of it: how creators increasingly have the power to make resonant stories that go viral, on multiple platforms. Brands looking to build relevance and love with consumers will do well to discover and champion these stories, which often arise from surprising sources of creativity.


🚀 Over and Out!

Pop culture insights are better when shared. Subscribe, forward this on, or share the love on social media. 


Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Angela, Kiko, Teri, & Vicki