Tag Archives: Popular Music

The Jet Li in Music

10 Oct
  • His insistence on singing with slurred enunciation
  • One of the 50 most influential figures in China
  • Has sold over 25 million of his albums worldwide  
  • Reclusive and introverted
  • The privacy war between him and paparazzi
  • Idol: Jet Li
  • Winner of worst actor prize in Hong Kong’s Razzies
  • Own record company JVR Music

Yes, some of you might already come up with the answer; Jay Chou, one of the most well-known superstars in Asia.  

If you are familiar with Jay Chou through the movie The Green Hornet, I offer you a better opportunity to fully recognise his talents. No offence to those who think Chou is just a good film director, producer or actor, but his music fascinated me the most. In fact, I am going to avoid addressing too much of the comments regarding his poor performances in the movies The Treasure Hunter and Kung Fu Dunk. I only would like to highlight Chou’s musical talents, taking Asia and the world by storm.

“Jet Li used kung fu to break into foreign markets, Hollywood. I hope my music can do the same thing.”(Chou never hides his admiration to Jet Li)

“Whoever spread the rumours probably hates me because I beat him at basketball.” (Chou’s response to clear some irresponsible news faked by one gossip magazine who trying to increase their sales).

It’s a well-known fact that Chou is a big fan of Jet Li and also a big hater towards paparazzo, especially when it comes to their invasion of his private life. From All Sides四面楚歌 is a great example of his dislike of paparazzo, where he makes a rant towards paparazzo in Taiwan. He and paparazzi are often in direct conflict with one another. Chou even bought his own camera to photograph anyone who follows him to taunt and discourage the behaviour of taking unsolicited pictures.

Growing up in a single-parent family made Chou a very quiet person, but it also becomes one of the elements that distinguish him and his music from others. One of his albums was named in honor of his mum, Ye Hui Mei (叶惠美). Songs such as Maternal grandmother and Listen to mother show how much of his life priorities are highly related to family value.

“I don’t think I’ll move out, my parents got divorced when I was a kid, and I made up my mind that even if I get married someday, I’ll still live with my mum. So that I can take care of her, keep her company. I’ve been having this thought for many years, no matter what happens in the future; I’ll live with my mum.” Chou once said in a Talk Asian interview.

“…No matter how much money you make outside, you still have to go home, because we have this duty, responsibility to take care of our parents. Perhaps there is some culture differences between Chinese and western people” Chou explained further.

Besides the influence of family in Chou’s music, I also have to mention Vincent Fang (方文山), who has played an essential role in building Chou’s music empire. More than half of the lyrics in all Chou’s albums are written by Fang, along with more than a dozen awards in Asia for Fang’s lyrical compositions. It is an unexpected spark between Fang’s well educated knowledge of classical Chinese culture and Chou’s “mumble” R&B, Rap and Pop, as well known as the term “Chou Style”. 

“In what has become the archetypal Chou style, Taiwan’s favourite son blends pop, rap, blues and a smorgasbord of aesthetic elements of world music to create his dream-like never-never land” Taipei Times once defined the “Chou style”

Their consummate cooperation brings surprising chemistry to the Asian music industry. The artistic and historical conception song Blue and White Porcelain (青花瓷) is a song, Fang wrote for Chou, and has won the best Lyricist at 19th Golden Melody Awards.

 

Fireworks Cool Easily(烟花易冷) is inspired from one ancient Buddhism allusions

Fang once talked about his inspiration

“I have a natural passion for traditional culture, which is totally reflected in my works. I love having a consistent artistic feature. So I set a time background or a typical image every time I write something, like a blue ceramic piece, a rainy spring, a wooden bridge above a flowing river, or the anthology of the Orchid Pavilion.”

Chinese people believe there is a predetermined principle called Yuanfen (缘分) that “dictates a person’s relationships and encounters, it has a binding force that links two persons together”.

Maybe it wasn’t only about thanking the others who believed in Chou’s talent, like Fang, not even those singers who rejected his songs, because that served as an avenue to launch his career.

 

Kingdom of Little Empires

5 Oct

Live Review

Live Photo taken by Ying

I guess it could be one of the reasons that made me arrive one and a half hours early for the gig, Kingdom of Little Empires. It’s such an inspirational day with the warm sunshine and I’ve been waiting for ages. After facing the Brisbane River for a while and finishing one bottle of beer, I take a little walk and start observing the Turbine Platform, where  I’m about to hear Snakadaktal, Albert Salt, Danika Smith and Stonefield. With a quick flash back of the news I have so far, it’s glad to see Stonefield, the 2010 Triple J Unearthed High winner, bring their huge stage show home after heading to the UK’s Glastonbury Festival.

Dom Alessio from triple J once commented on their psych-rock styled music:

“This is why these sisters are the best high school band in the country. So much maturity in their song writing at such a young age. And it rocks, plain & simple.”

Well, besides the growing popularity of Stonefield, this live is also a great touching point to witness how the young winner in 2011 Unearthed High competition, Snakadaktal and other two fresh finalists, are going to impress audiences. Wondering if it’s just like what Triple J presenter Nina Las Vegas describes on Snakadaktal’s indie pop tune Chimera

“Such a simple song with so many great ideas within”.

With a light testing plucking staccato sound coming from the show room, the atmosphere in the Powerhouse seems to be really heated, turning its historical sense into a vivid music craze.Snakadaktal isn’t doing too bad on the live stage, regardless of their age. How to digest the overwhelming fact from high school student to musicians that are capable of controlling their official music journeys can be a tough job. The band’s guitarist, Sean Kelly said in an interview when he heard they won the competition:

“This is really overwhelming. I’m just shocked, wow thank you all so much. I’d like to thank pretty much everybody that we know, all of our friends and family and our school. Thanks to everybody for being nice to us and listening to our music even the people that hate us.”

Besides their refreshing indie pop style, taking an overall angle of their stage experiences, I have to yell, what an unpolished diamond!! It is such a pity that audiences have to bear an extremely bad quality microphone which probably gave them a hard time of keeping their passion alive. The strategy is not quite worked for audiences when Sean (the voice) tries to ease the atmosphere with his prologue “Errr, we are here to play some songs for you.”

Recalled by Albert’s performance, somehow, I can’t help remembering the sentence I’ve read at some point

The world rushes on over the strings of the lingering heart making the music of sadness.”

Albert did a great performance to recall audiences’ most soft parts of their heart, falling into his music world by his talented mixed use of alternative rock, jazz and acoustic styles. The song Beaumont Child, is one of the best examples to describe Albert Salt and his music.The interesting thing was, I did not realise it was Danika sitting right beside me until she got on the stage. My first impression was that she didn’t that care about her outside image to be recognised or being stand out from other teen age girls.  She kept a very low profile among the crowds. However, it doesn’t mean her music is on “average”. Oppositely, it’s an amazing bloom of her “life” she wrote and sang about. Danika claimed her band was quite new, the Bassist had only began learning the instrument 3 days ago, and the other two members just joined a week before. But all the elements and facts didn’t bother too much for delivering what they tried to communicate with the audiences. She may be a little shy when talking in front of audiences, but as soon as she sang, you would notice she was the queen on that stage and people started falling in love with her voice. The song oh Father and you matter to me are the best examples of Danika’s music inspiration from her life’s story.

“Check, Check, Check, One Two” 

“Check, Check, Check, One Two”

It’s Stondfield giving their microphones a test, meanwhile all of a sudden, people get to stand up and head to the nearest part of the stage which just show a completely different situation. I am pretty sure some of them are about to get high.

Starting with Lead Vocals Amy’s powerful penetrating voice, their psych-rock music leads people into a music heaven with 100+ decibels of uninterrupted rock and roll. You feel your heart beating along with every single beat that dramatically fill in the Turbine Platform. It’s impossible to hear a word you say, but I am a good mouth reader

“Fucking love you guys” or someone just like “Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!” lasting for quite a while.

In my personal opinion, I agree Stondfield achieved an outstanding performance along with their great control of the stage and interactivity with audiences. Stonefield bought an unforgettable closure for Kingdom of Little Empires.

After they came back on for the encore, I take a deep breath of fresh air outside, a little dehydrated but satisfied.

 

 

OH, Choi

26 Sep

“I am just listening to the clock and…” Hm? Wait, I almost forgot I’m a terrible singer, but I just can’t help whispering David Choi’s By my side. I still remember the first time I discovered him through one of the famous YouTube Channels Wong Fu Productions. All I noticed about him, and you might get the same feeling as I do, was how Choi could hold a straight face so perfectly in every single video, later I realised it was his prominent trait.

Choi is a songwriter and producer, sometimes a humorous character appearing in fellow YouTube stars’ videos. Wong Fu Production uses a lot of Choi’s music in their videos, and they had a solid team working together which helped them in successfully promoting their impressive content.  

Below, it is Choi’s music video for By my side, produced by Wong Fu Production with its graceful conception.

Another song That Girl written by David Choi, produced by Wong Fu Production

“The ones we love tend to stay in our hearts and minds long after the relationship ends. While some move on quickly, others dwell and heal at a slower pace. Whatever the case, the thoughts, emotions and memories we experience during this time are heartwrenchingly powerful and real.”- By Wong Fu Production

Choi’s music is often about relationships and love, merged with his unique slow and quiet style and his knowledge of jazz and classic music. His songs have been described as heart melting and he made me believe that, without changing his expression, it works better for love and romantic songs.

 

 

 

I want to play a Game

1 Sep
 
To people who love music

Will you love it, 
protect it, no matter rich or poor, 
regardless of poverty and disease, 
regardless of difficulties and setbacks?
 

Before you come up with your answer, allow me to grab your attention with a video which has stuck in my head for a long time. I want to play a game with you guys.

I want you to listen, feel with your heart and imagine what picture they are drawing, have a go at feeling the concept without the limitation of language and go down to the bottom of the entry to see the lyrics, see if you are just right with them. 

 

Without high quality recording equipment, just a broken Guitar, without a beautiful background view but a tiny, dilapidated room. Allow me to officially introduce my favourite band and also the sexiest band I feel, Xuri Yanggang (旭日阳刚). This video is the original cover of In Spring they uploaded online before they became famous.

 

Now they have become headline of the Chinese Spring Festival Gala in 2011- which is as big as the Super Bowl Halftime Show in the US. However, what impresses me the most is not what their achievements are after the original video, but how amazing the song is.

Well, I keep listening to lots of new songs, meanwhile, keep forgetting the majority of it or confusing it with others. Some of them, unfortunately, I never have an emotional resonance with; there is no profound personality, just a by-product within today’s popular culture. I am not saying today’s music industry is wrong. For some of the music, you and its relationship is only like greeting to the staff who scan your items in the supermarket and them greeting you back, and that’s it.

I begin to notice the reason why I see a lot of today’s music as just a product and why I fucking fell in love with Xuri Yanggang at first sight. Well, the picture below might give you some thoughts towards today’s music industry.

Finally, my big thank  to Xuri Yanggang !

Thank you for letting me feel your pledge of love to music.

Thank you for letting me know the most beautiful thing in the wolrd is a soul which has travelled around the world, experiencing all the suffering and pain, until it’s back, still able to be an unfettered soul.

Music knows no boundary between countries, well, at least a real music do. In fact, there is no such thing in a good music,  people will only understand the content by speaking the same language.  

It is your time to come up with your own result . As I promised, the lyrics is attached below.

In the Spring

Remember the spring many years ago
At the time I haven’t cut my long hair short
Without credit cards without her
Have a home without 24 hour hot water
But then I was so happy
Although with only a broken guitar
In the street, under the bridge, in the fields
Singing songs that nobody cares
If one day, I’m an old man
Please leave me there at that time
If one day, I leave quietly
Please bury me in the spring

Remember the lonely spring
I have not grown a beard at that time
Without Valentine’s day without gifts
Without my sweet little princess
I feel that nothing is so bad
Although I have only the illusion of love
In the morning, at night, in the wind
Singing songs that nobody cares
Maybe one day I’m old man
Please put me there at that time
If one day I leave quietly
Please bury me in the spring

Now gazing the spring in full bloom
Looks like the old warm time
I cut long hair, grew a beard
The pain was all gone with wind
But I feel it is so sad
Lost years left me confusion
In this sunny spring
I could not help the tears flowing
Maybe one day I’m an old man
Please leave me there at that time
If one day I leave quietly
Please bury me in the spring

If one day I am an old man
Please leave me there in the spring
If one day I leave quietly
Please bury me in the spring
Spring

Necessaries in Popular Music ?!

21 Aug

Jonathan Lee once described popular music as the developmental history of society, the experience of life, but also an existence of a generation proof.

Well, I almost agree with Jonathan, but I can’t help myself but think that today’s music has been put is part of some bland, mechanized product rather than the artist having a pure love of producing it.

Like watching a movie with your popcorn (which is fine) and cameo roles always die within 5 minutes at the beginning of Hollywood movies, today’s popular music is often produced with:

  •  An extremely good looking singer
  •  A sexy image attached to MTV
  •  Irrelevant gossip news
  • Ability to guide (wired) fashion taste
  • Unbelievable and almost super powered paparazzo

This is the typical model to produce a “successful” album or single. 

  • If today’s visual power and gossip plays a more important role to promote music than music itself
  • If Lady Gaga has to act weird to be recognized as Gaga,
  • If music can’t live without the visual image,
  • If only music is not good enough to let people know it’s music

Should we call all the elements attached to music as a smart evolution or sad devolution of developing today’s music industry?

Well, whether you believe it or not, I miss the day when I could listen to Zhou Hui’s music, so simple, gentle, but still with that magic to draw my heart even after years

 In her MTV, you can often find a girl like this

 

That is her and it’s her decision to use a concise, cartoon-girl to represent her without pounds of makeup, exaggerated visual appearance and gossips. All the “compulsory” elements to make popular music in today’s society seem abandoned. Here, you can purely focus on the golden voice of Zhou Hui with your imagination to explore love, the family and the meaning of life simply.

She keeps a very low profile in her daily life and she is the singer that doesn’t brand herself too much to distract people from her music.

 

  Promise (Lyrics)
  Take your hand under the eaves on a rainy day
  Listening to the bells ringing from faraway
  I wish the wedding in the church
  Would fill us with God’s grace
  
  Travelling the thorny path to paradise
  We’re used to seeking courage in each other’s eyes
  Whenever I’m too tired to muster strength, I wanna give you a kiss
  It always relieves me of love’s woes
  
  Let’s promise
  To forget all our sad memories
  And to free each other from worries
  We should both be happy
  And take care of ourselves
  Even in the days without each other’s company
  
  Let’s promise
  To end any quarrel immediately
  And to be open to each other without secrets
  I’ll love you truly and blindly
  Not caring about fairness

 

I don’t know what the exact measurement to define a successful song is. But I remember a famous line said by Rancho in the movie 3 Idiots, ‘Pursue excellence and success will follow.’

Zhou is using her unique style to let people purely concentrate on her music and enter the colourful spiritual world she created. Her insistence to purely pursue the excellence of music makes me think she has succeeded. The best evidence is me as an audience still falling in love with her promise, even if it has been 12 years since the song was published.