By Matt Taylor
Celebrating her 25th anniversary in the entertainment industry, veteran Hong Kong superstar Karen Mok 莫文蔚 is returning to the centre stage with new single Slowly Like You 慢慢喜歡你.
Slowly Like You 慢慢喜歡你 is the second release from her as yet untitled seventeenth studio album, slated for release later in 2018. The concept of the song is rather than being overwhelmed by a fast romance, falling slowly in love with someone is more romantic, and allows for greater time to appreciate the intricate details of each other, in turn allowing for a deeper love. By taking our time, we can savour the time with our loved ones, walking together into old age.
The video, directed by Chen Yin-jung 陳映蓉, embodies the journey of love within a family in a specific moment in time. One on hand, you have a young couple who are about to cement their love through marriage. On the other, you have their parents, who through small interactions are able to convey their deep love and connection to their partner.
The track is a collaborative effort, written by Li Ronghao 李榮浩 and produced by Arai Soichiro 荒井十一. Karen has been friends with Arai since they met backstage at her 2009 Back to Karen Mok World Tour 回蔚莫文蔚巡迴演唱會, and he was the executive producer for her most recent album, 2014’s Departures 不散不見, for which she was nominated for three Golden Melody Awards, including Best Female and Best Mandarin Album. Not just collaborative partners, Karen and Arai enjoy a close and warm friendship. According to Karen, this is because they have similar views about the process of creating music.
Li Ronghao & Arai have been close friends for over ten years, so when Karen confided that she was a big admirer of the singer-songwriter, Arai wasted no time in reaching out to him, and Li ended up playing guitar on several songs on Karen’s last album. Li even joined Karen on stage in Beijing on her 2015 world tour.
Evidently, Karen, Arai & Li are a powerful creative force which have the capability of creating critically and commercially successful projects.
Prior to the release, both Karen and Li had been teasing fans on Facebook for days, uploading videos using the slow motion function as a representation of the song. Every video was captioned with ‘because slowly is the best reason' (因為慢慢是個最好原因).
Karen Mok is a legend in the Chinese music world. Over her illustrious 25 year career she has released sixteen albums, starred in over fourty films, and is referred to by fans as the Queen of Love Songs 情歌天后.
By Matt Taylor
It must be good to be a fan of Lala Hsu 徐佳瑩, who has premiered a video for Just Dance 現在不跳舞要幹嘛, the fourth from her fifth studio album The Inner Me 心理學, which was released on December 27.
The song is a stylistic departure for Lala, and is heavily influenced by 1970s disco and funk. However, rather than relying on nostalgic sentiments to sell the song, it is distinctive, modern and fresh, thanks in part to Lala’s ethereal vocals.
The track was produced by Starr Chen 陳星翰, known for his production and writing credits on recent albums by A-Mei 張惠妹 and Jolin Tsai 蔡依林.
The humorous and colourful video was directed by Birdy Niou 邱柏昶, and is meant to show the viewer how easy it is to break the shackles of everyday life and have fun. Not only that, the video attempts to portray that dancing is not a hobby restricted to a certain demographic, but is one that should be enjoyed by everyone, irregardless of gender, body type, or walk of life.
By Matt Taylor
Earlier this week, Faye 飛 (詹雯婷) released a video for the experimental Vault of the Sky 蒼穹. The video is breathtakingly cinematic, and plays with concepts of light and dark in nature.
2017 was a big year for independent Taiwanese singer Faye. The lead singer of Golden Melody award-winning pop/rock group F.I.R finally released Little Outer Space 小太空 her debut album as a solo artist. The ten track record was the culmination of not only one year of recording the actual record, but the end result of several years of self reflection and a journey inspired by her desire to combine her world view with her music.
The song and video were influenced by various ethnic styles blended into contemporary electronic pop, with traditional instruments including the Morin Khuur 馬頭琴 and the Komuz 火不思 taking centre stage. The composition of the song was inspired by Faye’s Mongolian friends, and Faye herself noted that the song represents the beauty that she sees in the world.
As if this wasn’t enough, on Friday Faye debuted a two track remix EP on Spotify, giving both Vault of the Sky and album opener Cave 洞 a fresh lease on life. Whilst Cave gets a dance makeover, the Vault of the Sky remix not only enhances the traditional influences introduced in the original, but also introduces elements of hip hop and acoustic guitar, alongside the introduction of Tuvan 呼麥 throat singing. Both songs are reminiscent of 90s alt-pop diva’s Faye Wang 王菲 and Bjork, and absolutely cannot be missed.
By Matt Taylor
Since placing as runner up in the debut season of Sing! China (中國新歌聲), the Mandopop world has been waiting patiently for Singaporean native Nathan Hartono (向洋) to introduce his mandarin language music to the world, and after two years the wait is finally over.
His first foray into Mandopop, Electric Love (愛超給電) is a recharged version of his 2016 English track Electricity. Whilst the original had a laid-back folksy charm, this new version see’s Nathan amp up the energy. The electric guitar which he vies with for primacy throughout the track perks the listeners interest from the very beginning, and elevates the original from background music to a masterclass in guitar-driven pop. The song is effervescent and joyful, hooking us from the beginning all the way into the anthemic chorus.
His occasional husky vocals are a real treat, and a reminder of his past work in the Jazz genre. Electric Love shows us Nathan is able to convincingly and easily slide across musical styles, something not necessarily achievable by his peers, and is proof of his capabilities both as a vocalist and performer.
Nathan Hartono's English single 'Electricity'
One of the greatest features of the song is how confident Nathan sounds, and this sense of self-assurance further sells the track to the listener. When he tells us to “come on over here”, he is convincing, and it shows just how much he has grown since Chinese television introduced him to the mainstream.
Whilst fans may have been perplexed at him not striking whilst the iron was hot, it seems that the wait was somewhat intentional. Rather than rush a release, Nathan wanted to ensure that he had a good work environment set in place outside of Singapore, and it seems that his time outside of the city state has inspired him to embrace pop music. Alongside this, the quality of his work is important to him, and he didn’t feel rush-releasing any music would be beneficial as it may impact on the quality of his output.
Electric Love is the first track from his debut Mandarin language EP due later in the year. Alongside yet more Mandarin renditions of his English tracks, he promises that it will include completely new songs, on which he has collaborated with new lyricists and producers.
To celebrate Nathan’s arrival to Mandopop, his debut track has two completely different videos. The first video see’s Nathan give the viewer a private performance, with him and his guitar zipping around an empty entertainment plaza. Whilst this has the potential to be somewhat boring and forgettable, Nathan’s confidence and star power shines through, make it a captivating watch.
The second video, my personal favourite, shows us Nathan operating to the full extent of his pop star capabilities, serving the viewer dance routines, costume changes, and joyful interactions with historically based living art (and also a really terrifying pig). Rather than drown in the sea of action, he rises to the top and easily commands the focus of attention.
Nathan Hartono has the potential to be a brilliant pop star, and in the future could see his name chalked up alongside legends such as Stefanie Sun and JJ Lin as top tier Singaporean pop exports. For now, this is a great first step.