Even being named by TIME Magazine one of the best music videos of the year, Mandopop princess Jolin Tsai's new single <Play> is definitely taking the world by storm. But not only has it been revolutionary in its sound and its idea, it has also had a rapid and catalytic effect on the Taiwanese music community, with many up-and-coming artists drawing inspiration from the original to create their own radically different yet wonderful works.
Here we have four versions of the same song-but who did it best? Read to the end to hear my verdict.
Of course, Jolin's original is mindblowingly good. I've never been that big a fan of EDM, but Jolin's music is one of my only exceptions to that rule. With a radical fusion of hip-hop rapping with an EDM beat, Jolin's created a truly revolutionary song to go with lyrics that are in-your-face, sharp yet sweet, and a much-needed criticism of Taiwanese society all in one. And truly there would be no one better than Jolin to be able to master this version of the song; her sweet and resonant vocals and unique pronunciation hits all the right notes for me, making this truly the most show-stopping track on her album.
As for indie and cover artist Shan Hay, it just amazes me how he was able to find the inspiration to strip down such a heavy track to find the core of the melody, taking it out and building his own acoustic version around it. I do believe that it was this cover that inspired many others to start playing around with Jolin's song, trying to create their own cover of the song that would show their support for the ideas for the song while letting their unique creative musical voices show. Shan's version is more reminiscent of R n B David Tao's works, with a hint of humour and full of warmth. Could be a complete song in it's own right!
Janice Yan, Li You-ting, Karen
Now this cover of Play is something else altogether. Janice, You-ting and Karen have instead created a funky, blues-inspired cover of Jolin's <Play> with a strong element of attitude infused into the entire song. It also draws influence from Queen's works by adding a completely different section that instead is inspired by a more disco, 80's theme before transitioning back into a faster version of their original arrangement seamlessly. They've also got this 'Supremes'-inspired backing style in there which I really love, drawing also from the Motown genre at its best.
Dawen and Gentleman have worked together with KKBOX here to create yet another astoundingly good and different cover of Jolin's <Play>!
I have to say, one of the most creative and awesome covers I've seen in a while. Not only because it was shot in an elevator(who would've thought?), but also because of it's complete rearrangement of the song; this time into an acapella/beatboxing/jazzed-up version of the original! Well done guys! This song sure does seem to be inspiring lots of artists to try their hand at creating new sounds, which I think is one of the most radical things I love about it.
I have to say, all of these covers are immensely creative and of a highly professional standard. But as the princess of mandopop, I believe it was Jolin's encompassing of the song which made it stand out so much, and gave all these artists the challenge AND the inspiration to create something very different, yet very personal from the song; their own reflection of how they see Taiwan. I don't know how she did it, but Jolin's impact is absolutely astounding. It's like she just gave us a blank sheet of paper charged with creative electricity for these artists to wrap their heads around and to create something different, something new. I have never seen so many amazing covers of the same song before. Clearly the winner here is Jolin, not only for her wonderful song, but also for the impact her song has had on Taiwanese society.