A little late, but better late than never, right? First of all, I’d like to wish all Asian Pop Weekly readers a very happy new year (Chinese New Year was just over so I consider myself only slightly late with this greeting)! As things have been hectic over the last couple of years, loyal readers may notice that the Asian Pop Weekly website has settled into a stable rhythm of posts such as news articles, lyric translations, interviews and album reviews, but I feel like it’s time to step things up a notch in terms of the amount of feature articles available on this site. So my resolution this year is to keep APW going strong, and to add a little pizzazz to our content just to spice things up.
In lieu of such a statement, I figured that I might as well start off with one of those ‘listicles’ which are so popular at the moment, a listicle of my top 10 C-pop songs of 2016 recommended especially for ABCs (individuals of Asian heritage living in Western regions), or basically for any English speakers who are interested in learning more about Chinese music. While some of these songs may not be the biggest C-pop hits of 2016, they’re nevertheless a great selection of tunes, mostly by artists with offerings friendly to the international market which will certainly be a pleasure for your ears. So without further adieu, let’s get into it!
For fans of Mandopop Queen A-Mei, her rearrangement of her 1996 hit ‘Sisters’ was released this year, and acts both as a hit of nostalgia for those of us who lived through the C-pop Golden era of the 1990s-early 2000s, but that’s not all the song’s about. A-Mei expressed that she mulled over the idea of revamping the song for years before she decided to take the plunge, and given her reputation as an avant-garde, rule-breaking artist, this song was more than just a commercial money-grabbing scheme. Opting this time to go with a simple acoustic guitar arrangement, A-Mei’s effortlessly clear and sweet voice envelops ones’ earbuds as she delivers a message for society, one of hope, love and solidarity. Listen out for her beautiful spoken message near the end of the song. Nostalgia and a real heart-warming message that would not be lost on listeners given how 2016 turned out.
What do you get when you combine Stefanie Sun and Tanya Chua? Introducing EV, a talented newcomer with a husky, low tone and a startlingly bright voice when it comes to the high notes. One Million Stars contestant EV was known on the show for her unique voice as well as her eclectic Japan-inspired fashion sense. But that’s not all this girl is. Previously working with the likes of Malaysian singer-songwriter Yu Heng to write songs, she was discovered by producer Skot Suyama who took a shine to her interesting voice and wrote a couple of songs that she has released independently.
Surprisingly versatile for a singer who already has such a unique tone, her wide vocal range and vocal technique, at times takes on a Stefanie sun-esque quality but is equally emotive in a Tanya Chua-style huskiness; combining the best vocal qualities of two of the most prominent female voices on the Taiwanese music scene. If that’s not what you call a good sign, I don’t know what is. But unlike the two, EV is neither cold nor overly emotional; instead, her voice highlights a clear optimism to her personality, creating a warm, heartening atmosphere in each song.
Her first single “Beautiful Sadness” is an eclectic mix of mandopop and rock, with brit rock-inspired verses that lead into a mandopoppy chorus with a huge dose of heavy rock in the arrangement balanced against it. The song is tailored perfectly to EV’s voice, stripping down the arrangement to pair her husky vocals perfectly with guitar and a little snare, before upping the ante with a full rock band arrangement, shredding guitar and all to match her high-octane, passionate high vocals in the chorus. Although she doesn’t reach either of the extremes on point as Chua or Sun, her special vocals have enough bite to make listeners sit up and take notice despite this.
The second single “Goodnight” is right up my alley; an acoustic, laidback song that uses a simple acoustic guitar and bass block in the arrangement, along with a few backing vocals to round off the simple, but refreshing mix. I rarely hear the use of the bass (Not the bass guitar, but the block) outside of producer Suyama’s works, but I feel it adds such an intense layer of depth to each song, with this single no exception. It keeps the rhythm going, yet doesn’t detract at all from EV’s voice. I especially love EV’s Stefanie Sun-esque vocal inflections in the chorus, and the reflective quality of her low tones in the verses. The melody is likable and the chorus draws you in so strongly, filling your mind with a complex set of emotions and memories that make you feel breathless, stimulated, and strangely optimistic all at the same time.
Having the backing of producer Skot, EV’s first single already has over 100,000 views on YouTube despite an independent release. Her talent is certainly not to be underestimated. Keep an eye out for this girl, because she’ll be hitting the big time sooner or later with that voice.
Who are Men Envy Children, you might ask? Well they're an up-and-coming band who has just recently (on the 15th of April) released their debut album 'Everything'. More information will be coming up on this awesome band very soon (Check in on our new Features page in the coming future), but for now, here's the quick lowdown on the band.
This is a 1+1 band, all members come from different professions. In the daytime they all have their own careers they are working hard at; but all are connected by their love for music and thus created 'Men Envy Children'. The meaning of this name reflects on a hope all members have towards their music; hoping that it will always be innocent and inquisitive, vibrant in imagination and allowing life to be full of energy-just like children.
Who is who?
Band leader: Vince
Vince is the creator of the band and the guitarist, and has a definite passion for rock music. He is also the creator of the soul of this album, as well as taking care of the musical direction and lyrics of this album. He normally likes to listen to music, watch movies and collect stories from his friends which he uses as the material to write music. At the moment Vince is a large media procurement group's chief executive (CEO).
With Kai's rhythm, every one of Men Envy Children's songs are full of passion. During Kai's university days he was recruited to join a band to release an album, but was faced with the decision to play music or to focus on his studies. We hope that with the release of this album it will allow Kai to taste the whimsy of being able to finally fulfill his dream, and no longer having to regret giving up on his dream of playing music. Perhaps in the near future he also hopes to be able to perform on the same stage as Mayday! At the moment Kai is a general manager at a media procurement company.
Lead Vocalist: Mify
When Mify was just about to give up on her singing dreams, two years ago at a performance she met band leader Vince. Through a few words of encouragement, both quickly became partners in creating their musical dreams. Mify's voice is perfect for dynamic live performances; with an infectious ability to get the crowd moving and to create an electric atmosphere. At the moment Mify is a professional dance teacher.
Hanz is a musical homebody who is also a little musical genius who is in charge of playing guitar and writing lyrics and composing music. Hanz is a introverted and educated person, but will often say things that will cause people to spit out their food, showing off his unique sense of humor. Because of his time working in recording studios, Hanz understands the equipment well, and has been named the mechanical genius of the group. At the moment, Hanz works as a digital media planner.
Men Envy Children's first debut album "Everything" is out now, and can be listened to on KKBOX, Spotify and bought on books.tw and iTunes.
about apw live
This is a project my sister and I have been discussing lately, and we've decided to collaborate and provide you guys with some covers of our favourite songs for your listening pleasure! It's also a great way for me to get my lyric translations out there, and great fun, so why not?
I love listening to covers because it's a way for me to relax; being an album reviewer, listening to songs becomes more than just listening to the melody and enjoying it. It's a continual analysing of each and every component of the song; the arrangement, the melody, the lyrics, the vocal technique, the concept and how it all fits together. With listening to covers for me I love that it's simple and brings everything back to basics, just enough to allow me a taste of the initial enjoyment that I got from that certain song, as well as allowing me to widen my horizons in terms of how the song can be altered to make it different, or maybe even better in some ways.
A big thank you goes out to my wonderful sister who's been collaborating with me on this project and encouraging its development from day one. She's an extremely talented guitarist both in mainstream and classical technique and I am honoured to collaborate with her on many, if not all of the APW live projects that we will be putting out on the Asian Pop Weekly youtube channel.
She's currently part of this reputable guitar ensemble; check it out if you're keen! : https://www.facebook.com/guitarstrophe
Also don't forget to like, share and subscribe if you like our first video and rendition of Kimberley Chen's <Ai Ni>(Love you): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmdH2pvg7tgcjveDUIKfSig
On our new Youtube page we'll also be uploading awesome lyric videos with our translations to make reading the translations that much easier for you guys. Don't forget to check out the origianl cover art for each of our works too! So far, feast your eyes and ears on Bai Ann's <What is it that let me meet you> and G.E.M's <Bubble> lyric videos!~
We really hope you enjoy this new addition to our score of projects; please support us by liking, sharing and subscribing to our channel!
Love, Asian Pop Weekly creator Jo
Are you ready for the 7th of November? Christine Welch is ready to release her very first debut album <A million possibilities> , and I'm very surprised to hear that she's going to be doing it all by herself-that's right, she's not under a record company, so I'm sure she would appreciate your support very much!
The album contains several hits, almost all of which Christine has collaborated with all-star producer Skot Suyama, who's orchestrated hits such as A-Lin's <幸福了然后呢>(Happiness, then what), and of course, Kimberley Chen's <爱你>(Love you) which was the anthem of 2012 when it was released. Christine herself is a wonderfully talented composer and lyricist; more fluent in Chinese than myself and possibly any Caucasian person I know, her dedication and passion to the Chinese language and now the Taiwanese music industry is definitely to be admired and appreciated. I've heard from reliable sources that the album will be available on both iTunes and books.tw, so you should definitely get onboard and support her by getting yourself a copy once it's released!
I have the utmost confidence in her musical and creative ability as an artist, and am certain that this will be an album to really look forward to. I wish her all the best for her on her musical journey, and I'll be cheering for her all the way! Good luck Christine!
Follow Christine's musical journey on:
A Million Possibilities（一百万个可能) has been released as of 7th November 2014.