In his long-awaited comeback, Mandopop king Wang Leehom builds on his previous experimentation with EDM sounds, releasing part 1 of 2 for his new digital album 'A.I. Love'. The first song on the two-song EP is the self titled first single 'A.I. Love', which since its release has been hotly debated over by netizens, who either seem to love or hate the song. As a hardcore Leehom fan and music journalist, I decided that now would be as good a time as ever for me to weigh in on the debate.
Starting off by unpacking the song lyrics, Leehom's voice; auto-tuned into a somewhat eerie manner comes in, chanting 'ethics attain ethics'; a play on the similar pinyin of those words in Chinese. In doing so, Leehom is already using the intricacies of the Chinese language to make a point. Both the words 'ethics' and 'attain' have the words 'dao de' in them in Chinese; ethics meaning 'dao de 道德' and attain meaning 'de dao得到'. Leehom uses their similarities; singing them in sequence to demonstrate the thin line that exists between ethics and attainment of success.
We see this particular play on words appear again leading up to the chorus ; and Leehom borrows the same technique for the chorus, singing 'A.I. Love(Ai)' repeatedly. This time, the play on words occurs between A.I., an English short-form for artificial intelligence and '愛Ai', the Chinese word for love. The wordplay works on two levels; first of all subtly reinforcing Wang's ongoing engagement with 'East meets West' themes within his music, and secondly making a statement on what he sees as the tug and pull between a reliance on digital technology at large (so much so that we use it to create sentient beings like ourselves) and real human emotions of love and concern; not only in a romantic sense but also in a general sense of stewardship and solidarity.
He touches on both these types of love in his verses, which feature heavy use of satire to hammer his point home. For example, in his first verse he sings:
'Inject a vaccine and you'll grow immunity/congratulations, you're now immortal/everyone wants a perfect lover/to give a shoulder massage at any time'
Leehom's use of satire here is almost palpable, and is clearly a critique on the concept of people using man-made means to become immortal; as well as the concept of an artificially created perfect lover. In his second verse, he uses satire again but moves his focus to how artificial intelligence and technology can be used in harmful and destructive ways, singing:
'Artificial Intelligence has finally perfected love/Just don't challenge it in go/No longer worry about the world's problems/it will colonize Mars'
Liked our Sunshine Collection series and missed out on our Facebook Post series? Now introducing our next themed series, the #PioneerSelection! This time around, we'll be entertaining you with four songs by four different artists; all of whom have made a major contribution to the Chinese music industry in one way or another. Let's take a look, shall we?
First up, we have my one and only Leehom Wang (I know he's married, but a girl can only dream..), and his song <龙的传人>(Descendants of the Dragon), which was a complete game-changer for the music scene in Taiwan. Not only did it turn many heads with its out-there sound, it created new and innovative possibilities for the industry, with Leehom proposing his own brand of 'chinked-out' music, encouraging asians everywhere to be proud of their heritage, and their identity. Leehom is definitely one of the reasons I began to think more deeply about my identity as an asian, and also one of the people who inspired my passion for Chinese music! So he is definitely number one on my list! Got any recommendations of your own? Let us know in the comments below, and don't forget to support us by liking our Facebook page!
As for the second part of Asian Pop Weekly's#PioneerSelection, where we introduce to you a collection of songs by some of the pioneers of the Taiwanese music industry! Today's pioneer is the legendary Jay Chou! Before his arrival on the music scene, there was no one like him, and more than a decade on, there is still no one who has reinvented chinese music the way he has. His unique fusion of chinese traditional music, classical music, hip hop and his fast-talking vocal style creates an atmosphere like no other; in his song <简单爱>, it's simplicity reflects the epitome of simple love in a way that has yet to be challenged by any song since then.
Now that we've introduced the two greats of the late 90s (Leehom and Jay Chou), it's time to move forward a few years. Flash forward to 2006, and the emergence of 16-year old Khalil Fong, a kid from Hong Kong with big dreams, and a real talent for music. His music, influenced by the likes of R n B and Soul artists such as Babyface and Michael Jackson introduced a fusion that was never before seen in the taiwanese music industry. Dubbed 'Soulboy', throughout the years Khalil has experimented with a large number of genres, including Soul, R n B, hip hop, Blues and Funk and has emerged with a truly unique and recognisable style that can be heard from a mile away. Today, we're introducing a throwback to his first hit, <爱爱爱>, the song which threw the entire music industry into a tizzy with its' funky tunes and soul-infused arrangements. Feeling inspired yet? I sure am.
This time, we're shaking things up a little with an artist who has recently rocked the music scene with her unique and innovative rapping style. That's right, we're talking about last year's Golden Melody Award Winner for Best Newcomer Miss Ko! In recent years, she's been putting out her own unique rap style and collaborating with the likes of Amber An, Khalil Fong, and Shi Shi. She's the newest in-rapper Fo Shizzle! Okay, sorry for the bad trash talk, but she's seriously awesome. Take a listen to her single <Hey DJ> which will get you grooving like there's no tomorrow!
Thanks for reading the last part in our #PIoneerSeries! Do you have any Pioneers to share with us? There are so many more that I could think of who should be shared, including the likes of David Tao, Tanya Chua, Stefanie Sun and Joanna Wang. Who would you like to be featured? Tell us in the comments below!
It's been a great year and now it's time to start having a little fun! Thank you so much for all your support, be it throughout the years, days, seconds or minutes ; I am personally grateful and thankful for each view on this site every day! Wishing you all the very best this Christmas ; Peace, Love and a whole bunch of presents!
Love, Asian pop weekly
Ah, Wang Leehom. The name on every girl’s lips from between the ages of 12 to 45; Leehom is no doubt a heartthrob , with his attractive face, and his flawless image. But this article isn’t about to go into detail on every reason why he’s a Taiwanese real-life version of Adonis (although he is); instead my title refers to his music and what it embodies.
Leehom is a guy with a lot of heart. No one can deny that. Just yesterday, at 1am in the morning, he posted a status to his millions of fans updating them on the current Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines which is moving towards Vietnam, and encouraging them to evacuate if needed. He’s embarked on many a trip with different charity organisations , to help poverty stricken developing and undeveloped countries. I like to think that his music is driven mainly by what comes from the heart too.
His perfection of technical ability allows his ideas and his music to flow seamlessly, but the melodies , the lyrics and the ideas that are built on top of this are perfect in their imperfections. Although Leehom is characterised as an all-round nice guy, his music lends others a deeper look into his soul and what he’s feeling. Every note he sings, every song he plays is filled with an enthusiasm , passion and absolute self-devotion to his music, through which he expresses his many imperfections: loneliness, anger ,fear ,lovelorn.
I don’t really think Leehom’s the kind of artist who everyone admires for their laid back , spontaneous attitude to music that produces results of the best kind anyway; he puts so much effort into everything that he does that each song becomes chock-full with emotions that you can’t help but get goosebumps. At the same time, he’s not one to shy away from expressing the flaws of society , addressing the problem of racism in <火力全开>(open fire) , and taking a stand towards the Taiwanese media for their despicable infiltration of privacy.<我完全没有任何理由理你>(I don’t have any reason to talk to you>. But songs like <星期六深夜> and <需要人陪> are filled with a heartwrenching atmosphere of crushing emptiness that could come from nowhere but the heart itself. The lyrics are simple, but that only serves to reflect on Leehom’s simple desire to find happiness.
This is only one of the many images that Leehom embodies , but I dare to say that it isn’t really a typical view that people generally have on his music. He is certainly an innovator, a perfectionist, a musical genius; an extremely attractive human being, but his ability to replicate the true emotions that everyone feels but cannot express is one of the reasons why his music means so much to me. In his music, I feel that it is a direct connection from the bottom of his heart, into each and every listener’s heart , a one in a million ability that is rare in today’s industry.
Image from: www.sosogay.co.uk
Instead of the typical biography style-stuff that everyone pushes out about these artists, I would just like to give my opinion within this series of posts on why these are some of my favourite artists on the music scene, in terms of their personality, their voice, and their musical ability. Hopefully it helps people to understand more about these artists, and how each and every one of them has their own niche that makes them unique in their own way. Some of these artists may be veterans in the business, and I’m doing this to remind fans and listeners alike of their unique abilities.
Some of the short articles I will be doing/will be coming up shortly are:
-wang leehom: The heart wants what the heart wants
-elva Hsiao: Sugar and Spice
-anthony neely: The sniper
-Yen-J: Killing me softly with his creativity
-Gary Chaw: Honesty is the best policy
-David Tao: Golden Boy
-Hebe : The Dark Horse
-William Wei: The nice guy
-Genie Zhuo: not your average sweetie pie
-Rachel liang: Consistency is key
These are in no particular order, but I hope you enjoy these little introductions that I'll be providing for these artists! Stay tuned, as the first in this series will be coming out very soon!