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'
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