For those of you who don't know, its rising star and soon-to-be Mandopop princess Kimberley Chen's 20th birthday today! Despite her only being in the business officially since her debut album in 2012, she's achieved an astounding level of popularity that is unrivalled by any other newcomers that I've seen so far. I'm proud to say that I've been a fan of hers since before she even debuted officially; and recalling the first time I heard her sing live, I was absolutely blown away by her powerhouse vocals. Definitely, as the title goes, I really did fall in love with her music before she was the new pin-up girl for the new era of mandopop. But unlike how her song <I Love You Before It Was Cool> goes, I did end up investing a lot in her music (mostly hope for her success), and was rewarded with amazing results.
With Kimberley, there's a sense of juxtapositioning that makes her music so appealing to listeners always; the promise of something new and different, but yet always confident in its ability to please and amaze.Of course, a large part of this is thanks to her creative team including producer Terry Lee, Victor Lau, Skot Suyama, Lil J (from JPM) to name a few, but what I feel really makes her and her music so popular is the sense of spontaneity that exudes from her always.
Her producer Terry Lee is always lauding her for her sense of spontaneity that helps them to get an album put together much more smoothly, and it's clear in her music; the way she sings - a sense of creative freedom and a carefree attitude that sets her and the atmosphere within her music apart from the rest. But Kimberley plays a bigger part in her own success than many realise. Who do you think wrote the bridge part for the hit song <爱你 Love You>? For me, it represents a fusion of Kimberley's creativity, spontaneity and pitch-perfect vocal technique in a one-minute long section which cannot be replicated by any other singer, other than Kimberley herself. Can you even imagine Jolin Tsai trying to sing that bridge? Don't think so.
And for her latest hit <分手说爱你 Breaking Up To Say I Love You>, it was her who gave this song a chance and breathed life into it, making it her own unique Kimberley anthem. This girl knows what she likes, and what she doesn't. She gets straight to the point and isn't afraid of letting other people know of her opinions, and I really respect her for that. I hope that she continues to have great successes along her path as an artist, and that she has a very happy birthday on this special day. You're awesome Kimberley!
True, David Tao is certainly far from being a boy. But to me, his music is ageless and forever youthful. Being a relatively recent fan of his music, I only listened to his 1997 debut album a few years ago, and it amazed me how new, how fresh, how different it sounds. You know how some albums from the 80s or the 90s, or even early 2000s have that distinct sound and atmosphere to it, almost like a sluggish film over the top that distinguishes it from the rest? David’s music doesn’t have that. As I’ve slowly been collecting his albums over the years, each amazed me more and more with the creativity and timelessness of each melody, each song. I feel so privileged being able to be a fan of someone who has a gift so wonderful – the gift of timelessness. And I think the title really alludes to Tao’s magic touch. Everything he touches really does turn to gold. All his works to date except the most recent album (fingers crossed for a Golden Melody win!) and his Black Tangerine album(I smell a conspiracy) have been nominated and collected accolades at the prestigious Golden Melody Awards.
He also has such an amazing vision that sets him apart from other artists. He doesn’t go along with the flow like other artists; pumping out an album every year on the dot like mandopop superstar Jay Chou. He takes his time, and creates something that is truly beautiful and timeless; works that some artists may only be able to dream of. I’ve been able to replay his songs over and over again for years now; without getting sick of them. I don’t know if it’s the voice, the potent likability of the melody, or the innovation that he puts into each arrangement of a song, but I’ve gotta say; its definitely working for me.
I guess some people see it, and some don’t. But each of his albums leaves me touched and blessed for being able to hear what he has to say. It’s a piece of art, a work of love that he presents to fans (See One Liners: David Tao - Black Tangerine >>>) that is full of inspiration, David’s thoughts and ideas all on a carefully crafted concept. The artists that I respect most are the ones who are able to tell their story through their songs. So who needs facebook, weibo or twitter when you’re David Tao? I’m honestly not upset that he doesn’t update that much on there because I’ve learnt so much about him through his music already, and I feel that that’s what’s important. Getting to know a person through their music is a wonderful feeling; hearing works that they’ve put their hearts and souls into is truly a mind-opening experience. With David I truly feel privileged to be a fan of his, and to be able to share in his spectacular visions, ideas and creativity.
If you ask me, Wei is like the residential nice guy on the scene, at first a newbie with a lot of talent, but not really seeming like a breakout artist in the music scene. But he has an almost lethal weapon that has brought him critical acclaim and success ever since his debut, making people, even the likes of one of the largest successes in the music industry, David Tao, take notice of him. What would that be, one might ask? And I have to say, it’s his niceness. To elaborate further, I feel that it is his genuine love for music, and the honest, feel-good vibe that he has going for him that has won him the admiration of many a fan, and not to mention the Best Newcomer Award at the 2011 Golden Melody Awards.
Before I was introduced to Wei’s music, I had no idea that Folk Rock could be transformed in the way that he transformed it. I didn’t know how much I would love it, or how happy it would make me until I heard him sing, and that was enough for me to gain interest not only in the genre, but in Wei as an artist. It’s hard to imagine how large an impact an unassuming nice guy such as Wei could make, with just a friendly smile and his acoustic guitar, but a single song could change even the meanest cynics’ opinion. In the midst of the Yen-J vs William Wei debate for the 2010 winner of the prestigious newcomer award at the Golden Melody’s, I as a Yen-J fan and having never heard Wei’s music before was slightly miffed when he won. On an impulse, I bought the album and I have to say, he had me entranced from the word go. From the first sentence of the first song <我没有> , “Turn off the radio” it was like he had cast a spell on me, the melancholy soulfulness of his voice being unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was a little like déjà vu hearing that song, as if I had heard it in my dreams. Through this simple melody and arrangement, I feel that Wei has captured a sliver of pure, unadulterated human emotion with a superhuman precision that is rare even within the most talented artists.
I think he really gets what it’s all about. Music is about touching people, spreading a message. It is altruistic, and a reflection of each performer’s innermost thoughts that can be transferred to others. Unfortunately, a lot of people forget this in today’s music industry, but not Wei. He knows it, and never takes music for granted. Every single song he puts out is done with love and care, coaxing each melody as a nice guy would, making it talk to him, and he to it. The way that he communicates and understands music is a phenomenal skill, making each and every piece a unique reminder to himself and to his listeners of who he is and what he’s set out to do.
But while his songs urge us to find ourselves in more ways than one, his voice as the glue holding it all together is comforting, yet motivating at the same time. The genuine honesty with which he sings all his lyrics,that little bit of humor and that ever-present warmth gives listeners such as myself so much happiness and comfort.
Wei is an outstanding singer that reaches out past the microphone and past the recording studio into the hearts and minds of listeners; his genuine love and passion for music is an inspiration to listeners everywhere and I have absolutely no doubt that he will go far as an artist and performer.
Yen-J keeps one thing in mind whenever he is in the studio making his music; and that is to “kill it with creativity”, and that he does. He is a true pioneer in the Taiwanese music industry, being the first mainstream artist to push out his own brand of jazz-pop fusion which has helped him to rise to the top of the charts with his unique arrangements and his constantly refreshing ideals. For me, his appearance on the music scene in 2010 was so instrumental that it lead to people becoming more accepting of Jazz as a mainstream music genre. With the backing of superstars such as Wang Leehom and Xiao S, his debut became a kind of catalyst for other artists to express their interest in Jazz music including the likes of Jam Hsiao, Yoga Lin and Gary Chaw who each subsequently released their own jazz cover albums. Coincidence? Maybe, but either way, his creativity as an artist is his biggest selling point.
I have never seen an artist who could make his song rise to the top of the charts by using the sound of a sneeze in a hip-hop remix, but yet Yen-J pulls it off finely and with aplomb, as he does with each and every one of his songs. For him, the world is his stage and he doesn’t limit himself to one genre, one instrument, one signature sound. For me, the signature sound of Yen-J’s music is creativity. He’s risen above the rest to bring us music that truly shows who he is as a person, an artist, and a musician. In the short span of four albums that he’s released to date, he has tried many genres that some artists only even dare to try their hand at after gaining acclaim with a bunch of love songs or one specific genre that they are familiar with. Hip hop, rap, jazz, pop, folk, rock, RnB, you name it, Yen-J’s done it. As an incredibly versatile artist, the only flaw I would say he has in his vocals which could do with some work, but his creativity and dedication as well as his skill more than makes up for it.
The guy has a vision; he knows what he wants from every single song and nurtures its creativity, creating all kinds of weird and wonderful fusions of song genres which when coupled with his catchy melodies, are a true pleasure to listen to. Each and every song is a piece of art; no repetition, each a unique gem in itself, bursting with innovation and hard, precise work.
This post is probably going to be a short one, but I just have to give props to Rachel Liang for being the most consistent singer that I have ever seen. And we are talking to the point of her voice being unchangingly spectacular every time you hear it. I don’t know how she does it, but this girl never produces a performance that won’t make her fans proud.
Rachel once likened her role as a singer to ‘colouring’ in an image and adding vibrancy and emotion to it, and that she does successfully. Labelled as the ‘ballad princess’, those impossibly high notes never faze her, as she injects the same amount of love and emotion with calculated precision into each of her songs every single time.
Failure is never an option for Rachel; whose tingling high vocals are the star of any show, never eluded or hidden by the arrangement no matter how messed up. Her voice gives her and her music a strong sense of direction, and is always confident in leading every song with a confidence that you can’t resist.
#01 Hebe Tien
#02 Elva Hsiao
#03 Wang Lee Hom
#04 Lara Veronin
#05 Anthony Neely
#06 Gary Chaw
#07 Rachel Liang
#08 Yen J
#09 William Wei
#10 David Tao
#11 Kimberley Chen
#12 Peggy Hsu
#13 Magic Power