Alas, it's Awards season again in Taiwan! The inaugural 27th Golden Melody Awards which have come forth this year are full of nominees who truly deserve to be standing on that coveted stage and holding that statuette. But who made it into the final list of nominees? Read on to find out!
Chang and Lee
Susu (Su Yun Ying)
Best songs of the year
“Don’t Give Up” Suming
“Matriarchy” Amit (A-mei Zhang)
“Twilight” JJ Lin
“That Evening It Rained” Sodagreen
“Little Luck” Hebe Tien
Chang and Lee
Nine one one
Best Hakka album
“Time for Surprise” Wing Luo
“At the foot of Tai Ling” Qiu Lin
“Stranger” Huang Tsi-Hsuan
Best Aboriginal album
“Freedom journey” CMO band
“Migration” Wu Hao-en
“Songs Of The Tamalakao Tribe”/Tamalakao
Best Taiwanese album
“Voices Entering Village” Shi Wenbin
“Columbia” Jacky Chen
“Chang and Lee” Chang and Lee
“Warm Warm Love” Jiang Hui Yi
“Taiwanese New Wave” Huang Shan Liang
Best Mandarin Album
“Swing Inc.” Peggy Hsu
“Charlie” Eli Hsieh
“Amit 2” Amit
“Aphasia” Tanya Chua
“Winter Endless” Sodagreen
“Infinite” Bear Guy
Best Taiwanese Male Singer
Best Taiwanese Female Singer
Best Male Mandarin Singer
Best Female Mandarin Singer
Su Yun Ying (Su Su)
Amit (A-mei Zhang)
Special Contribution Award
Huang Ying Ying
Best Music Video Award
“Eternal Summer” (Director: Su Jian Yi)
“If The Same Pain Was Downloaded Twice” (Director: Tan Zong Pan)
“I’m Not Yours” (Director: Chen Yi Ren)
“I Am Alive ft. Jason Mraz” (Director: Liu Geng Ming)
“I Want To Know Your Everything” (Director: Chen Hong Yi)
Best Composer Award
Jacky Chen/ ”Black Island” (Artist: Jacky Chen)
Tanya Chua/ “Aphasia” (Artist: Tanya Chua)
JJ Lin/ “Twilight” (Artist: JJ Lin)
Wu Tsing Feng/ “A Rainy Evening” (Artist: Sodagreen)
Jerry C/ “Little Luck” (Artist: Hebe Tien)
Best Lyricist Award
Hsieh Ming-Yu/”A Life’s Song” (Artist: Jacky Chen)
Wu Hsiung/ “Dismantle” (Artist: Chang and Lee)
Chen Sa/ “Matriarchy” (Artist: Amit)
Wu Tsing-Feng/ “Happy Gorgeousness” (Artist: Sodagreen)
Wu Tsing-Feng/ “You Raised Your Right Hand To Mark ‘Here’” (Artist: Sodagreen)
Best Arranger Award
Jacky Chen, Chen Ju Hao, Jakub Kubi Groos, Ao Di, Li Da Wen/ “Would You Be My Girl” (Artist: Jacky Chen, Dwagie)
Hsu Yu-Ying, Lu Law-Ming/ “A Letter For Tim Bolton” (Artist: Peggy Hsu)
Hsiao Zhao/ “Searching Deep Seas” (Artist: Li Jian)
Chang Shi-Lei, An-Dong/ “Living Is The Best Death” (Artist: Tanya Chua)
Sodagreen, Li Wei-ZHe/ “Happy Gorgeousness” (Artist: Sodagreen)
Best Album Producer Award
Peggy Hsu, Wang Xi Wen/ “Swing Inc.” (Artist: Peggy Hsu)
Adia, Amit/ “AMIT 2” (Artist: Amit)
An Dong, Tanya Chua/ “Aphasia” (Artist: Tanya Chua)
JJ Lin/ “Experimental Album Me n Myself” (Artist: JJ Lin)
Lin Wei-Zhe/ “Winter Endless” (Artist: Sodagreen)
Best Single Producer Award
Shuo Hsiao/ “Have You Eaten” (Artist: Shuo Hsiao)
Eli Hsieh, Tsai Jung Hoon/ “Lamp” (Artist: Eli Hsieh)
Hsiao Zhao/ “Searching Deep Seas” (Artist: Li Jian)
Chen Jian Qi/ “Practice Losing” Artist: One Fang
Chen Jian Qi “Darling” Artist: Julia Peng
Best Album Cover Award
Wu Jian-Long/ “Chang and Lee”
Lee Wei-Ming/ “Principles that never die”
Huang Jia-Xian/ “Mr. Hormone”
Fang Hsu-Zhong/ “Vu Vu Reggae”
Zhao Yi-Xiang/ “GIGO”
Nie Yong-Zhen/ “For Miss Qiu Yueyun”
Best Recording Album Award
“New Heartbeat”/ Recording Engineers: Peter Roberts, Lupo Groinig, Strawberry/ Main Mixing Engineers: Richard Furch, George Dum/ Main Mastering Post-Production: Reuben Cohen
“Light Freezing”/ Recording Engineers: Li You, Bao Ru Yi, Zhang Bo, Yan Chung Kun/ Main Mixing Engineers: Howie, Joe Hirst/ Main Mastering Post-Production: Ray Stuff
“AMIT 2”/ Recording Engineers: Chen Wen Chun, Chen Zhen Fa/ Main Mixing Engineers: Fan Nangang/ Main Mastering Post-Production: Joe LaPorta
“Aphasia”/ Recording Engineers: Kyle Hoffman/ Main Mixing Engineers: An Dong, Richard Furch/ Main Mastering Post-Production: John David
“Fall In Love With Yourself”/ Recording Engineers: Zhou Chi Hao, Ye Yu Hsuan/ Main Mixing Engineers: Wang Jun Jie/ Main Mastering Post-Production: Chris Gehringer
Best Backing Recording Album Award
“The Arti: The Adventure Begins/ Film Soundtrack” / Recording Engineers: Yang Min Qi, Li Zhao Yang, Wu Rong En, Lin Xiao Qin, Zhu Jing Ran, Chen Yi Lin, Ko Zhong You, Jiang Song Song, Yang Bang Hao/ Main Mixing Engineers: Yang Ming Qi, Craig Burbridge, Wang Jun Jie (Little K), Simon Li/ Main Mastering Post-Production: Sun Zhong Shu
“Simple Life”/ Recording Engineers: Kyle Cassel/ Main Mixing Engineers: Dave Darlington/ Main Mastering Post-Production: Dave Darlington
“My Own Room”/ Recording Engineers: Todd Carder, Pat Noonan (The Bunker Studio)/ Main Mixing Engineers: Brian Montgomery, Wei Yu Xian/ Main Mastering Post-Production: Systems Two Recording Studio
“SEMIFUSA Namesake Album”/ Main Mixing Engineers: Yu Jialun/ Main Mastering Post-Production: Jeff Lipton, Maria Rice
Although I'm not that interested in the K-pop/modern styles of dance, something that has been trending in the Chinese music scene lately is the use of interpretive dance in Chinese music videos. (I think this has something to do with Ed Sheehan's use of alternative dance styles in his music video for "Thinking out loud"). Interpretive/contemporary dance is something that I really appreciate, having been a ballet dancer myself for 15 years. Thus, here are a few of my favourites of the moment I'd like to share with you!
If you have any you'd like to share with me, comment down below!
Dawen Wang-Not Qualified
Dawen's fusion of the classical genre with pop music in his song "Not Qualified" is a perfect accompaniment for the use of interpretive dance! And the dancers Ash & Lily did an amazing job too, executing a dance that represented the loneliness and vulnerability of the song. Intermingling the use of suspense and abandon with slow, nuanced movements, it was certainly a pleasure to watch as they danced live in time to Dawen accompanying on the piano in the video.
Men Envy Children-This is not the love I want
Taking a more sultry approach to interpretive dance, Men Envy Children's lead singer Mify Chen who is actually a professionally trained dance teacher shines in this film-noir music video where she incorporates fluid, elegant movements into a storyline involving herself as a third party with two other dancers. beautifully shot, the dance moves of the three dancers involved hint unsubtly at sexual themes, mixing lust with abandon in suspenseful motions that are pieced together perfectly and full of meaning.
Although it's a little creepy that the guy is wearing a mask to me, the music video for Gem's song "Therefore於是" is thematically a very interesting mix of wild wild west imagery with a Spanish influence to it. An interesting visual experience helped by the interpretive dancing used! Although i'm not entirely sure what the story created has to do with the song...
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From the early days we have the reality shows that have accompanied us through our adolescent years; One million stars, 超級歌喉Extreme vocals, so on and so forth. I remember when this concept of reality singing competitions first began with US reality show American Idol, the point of it was to give amateur singers an opportunity to achieve their dreams and for audiences, that was what they wanted to see. Fresh-faced newbies, full of hope and passion for singing going through rounds of contestation for that chance at a recording contract.
But all of a sudden, it seems the rules of the games have changed. With a whole slew of new reality TV shows coming from China such as The voice of China, 最美和聲The most beautiful harmonies, 我是歌手I Am Singer…and the list goes on, it seems that the main focus of these big-shot TV producers is no longer to give the country bumpkins, underdogs and hidden talents a chance to shine, but more about trying to outdo their competitors by banking on the biggest names in the Chinese music industry to line their judging panels like trophies on a shelf. The voice of china has been graced by the presence of Jay Chou, Na Ying, Harlem Yu and various other industry veterans, not to mention toting at certain points in the season a gaggle of even more well known artists such as A-mei Zhang and Gem Tang. The spotlight, it seems; is no longer on the competitors, but on the judges and their interactions with the competitors and with each other.
Legendary Chinese artist Han Hong’s reality singing competition “最美和聲The most beautiful harmonies” is an even more blatant example of this strategy, with the camera frequently panning back to the singer-director’s face as she sheds a sentimental tear over some competitor’s rendition of one of her own classics. Furthermore, rather than showcasing the talents of their various newcomers, the beginning of each show starts with an ‘open mic’ for judges such as David Tao, Jam Hsiao and Sun Nan, who test the limits of their vocals against each other and whet the appetites of thousands of screaming fans who are no longer sitting in the stands to cheer on their favourite competitor, but to watch on as the star studded cast of judges make salacious digs at each other, crack jokes and ‘bond’ through their mutual passion for music and singing.
And even more ridiculously, these reality singing competitions are so blatantly focused on making money and banking on ‘interactions’ between artists that the competitions that we now see a growing shift of focus from being a platform for unknown and aspiring singers to nothing more than a mere promotional tool for professional singers and their opportunity-seeking record and artist management companies. I find it extremely mind-boggling to see artists who have already released albums and won high-profile competitions competing yet again just to try and make a dent in the China market. Record companies have put two and two together and realized, “hey, why don’t I just get one of my artists to blow away the competition on an amateur-level singing contest like the voice of china?”.
I don’t know about you, but although it may be putting money into the pockets of all involved, it’s just downright unethical to use this big-fish-in-small-pond strategy. Most recently, Sharon Kwan’s rise to media attention through her place on Jay Chou’s team on the latest season of the Voice of China made me more than a little uncomfortable knowing that not only was she the champion of Taiwanese singing competition One Million Stars, but she is also currently a signed artist to David Tao’s record company with original works under her belt. And I also believe it to be no coincidence that within days of leaving the competition, her latest single “不遠的情人A lover not faraway” was released, presumably to ride out her wave of success in the China market before it recedes.
Furthermore, another problem I have with these singing competitions is not just that they are forsaking their initial aim of helping amateur singers to have their voice heard, but also how they dampen the creativity of an industry already in decline. Do you know how many times I’ve heard JJ Lin’s “She Says她說” sang by competitors on a variety of these shows? Countless times. These karaoke hits are touted out time and time again by competitors, both amateur and professional who are all playing it safe with their song choices to get to the next round; usually choosing from a limited selection of golden classic ballads or high-octane rock but rarely somewhere in between. The pros are playing it safe because they know they have a competitive advantage, while the amateurs are playing it safe because they know the playing field is no longer even and they have to match the pros song for song, tooth for tooth to gain a position in the next round. This defensive strategy is all well and good, but it is the worst thing that you could do to a music industry that is struggling to pull its socks up against the competition of Korean and Western music industries.
These shows have a lot of influence and they know it. Millions of views each episode, and fans all across Asia. I once went to a Voice of China concert where I asked the girl next to me who she was rooting for. She replied, “no one, I’m just here to listen to the songs”. The massive fanbase of these singing shows have now cultivated an unhealthy preference in their favourite singers. It’s no longer the ones with the unique and interesting voices, but now even the most plain of singers can reach unimaginable heights if they just pick their songs right. Basically any song that can be considered a classic ballad, such as Wan Fang’s新不了情No new love，A-mei’s記得Remember，or any other high-powered ballad from anytime between the 1970s to the early 2000s is enough to have members of the audience laughing, crying and giving a standing ovation. But songs from 2010 onwards, songs from today are most usually a no-go unless they’re western pop songs.
It’s funny though, because now’s the time when the music industry could really use a little bit of a boost. Revisiting old songs may be bringing back the memories, but they’re certainly not making audiences aware of the interesting variety of music the scene is pumping out. I’m not saying its fantastic, but its definitely getting better. Recycling these old songs time and time again is only going to de-sensitize audiences and make them lose interest in new music, just happy to live in the past with these old songs sung by new people.
Audiences have been brainwashed to see these shows are something completely different than to what the shows were originally conceptualized to be: over-hyped publicized karaoke time with an extra dose of good-natured celebrity interactions that tugs at the ol’ heartstrings. So what I’m trying to say here is, Chinese reality singing competitions as they are now are a despicable money-making scheme, but at the same time are also a medium with a lot of positive potential for the industry; if only they would think of applying it in the right ways, and in the right places.
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