SANDY LAM Concert MMX1 (Universal Music)
THIS is a gem. After an absence of more than five years, Sandy Lam, one of Canto-pop’s brightest and more enduring stars, is back in the spotlight.
Hearing her perform at this concert series, held at the Hong Kong Coliseum, is almost like meeting an old friend. The atmosphere tingles and if you put on your headphones, you may be quite reluctant to take them off. It’s definitely not easy singing live and if you can mesmerise a whole bunch of people, an adoring audience notwithstanding, you surely have talent in spades.
Add to that the superb recording and it’s almost as if you are right there in a VIP seat. Her mellow and sentimental voice revisits a selection of her classic hits, including Blight, Midnight Shift, Broken Heart and Rainy Day. Some songs have been given new arrangements by music director Anthony Lun but they are interesting variations nonetheless.
Lam may be 46 this year but her fan base remains strong. A bunch of 20-somethings spotted me holding this CD and their shrieks of “wow, lend me, lend me” could probably be heard in the house next door. In fact, some of Lam’s fans were probably not born when she started her singing career back in 1984.
For the uninitiated, Lam’s 1991 coming-of-age Wildflower album won her acclaim but it was her fourth effort, Love, Sandy, which shot her to stratosphere fame. It was one of the all-time best-selling Chinese language albums.
On My Way
JANE Huang, a finalist from Taiwan’s One Million Star singing contest, has had just two album outings (both with Y2J) but she obviously managed to convince the powers-to-be to unleash her as a solo artiste, hence On My Way.
Don’t mistake her for Jane Zhang, the powerhouse from China. Huang pales considerably by comparison. To be fair, the latter does have her rocker chick ways but her vocals can go off-tangent at times, sounding quite immature and even whiny. It could be me but how on earth did she rise above the talented pack in the second season of the talent competition?
Veteran rocker Wu Bai lends a hand on some tracks so this solo effort does pass muster especially on tracks Run, Run Run, I Don’t Cry and I Miss Home. Huang will have to work much harder on her vocals if she expects to make any sort of impact on the huge and demanding Chinese music scene.
Huang may hail from an aboriginal group in Taiwan but she has a long, long way to go before anyone mentions her in the same breath as A-mei.
I SUPPOSE there can never be too many boy bands around, so what’s one more for the Taiwanese music scene? Consisting of four good-looking guys (are there any other kind?) who I suppose can dance reasonably well and able to sing in key to boot, they represent the energy of youth. Think edginess and rebelliousness.
That said, this self-titled debut EP is certainly miserly in effort, offering just five songs including the dance anthem 4ever. Self-proclaimed leader of the pack, Chin Yueh, attempts some songwriting skills on ballad Locate Your Destination. For me, R&B number Romance From Up North is a better bet. Strictly for the young and restless.
Everything In The World
VANCOUVER-BASED singer-songwriter Wanting Qu is a revelation. The haunting strains of her lyrics stay with you long after you have turned the CD player off and you may even unconsciously hum a refrain of two when you least expect to.
Wanting is the first Chinese musician signed by Canadian indie record label Nettwerk Music but she only recently appeared on the Chinese music industry radar in part because a Hong Kong romantic flick, Love In The Buff, used her song Drenched as its theme song.
This album may be part Mandarin and part English but she excels in both so I really do not mind at all. In fact, I was so smitten by Drenched that it has been playing every morning in my room for the past week as I got ready for work. Its lyrics may be corny at times (“When you kissed me on that street, I kissed you back/You held me in your arms, I held you in mine”) but its innocence and simplicity are refreshing.
Everything In The World is Wanting’s first full-length album and if it’s any indication, expect this lass from China’s northeastern city of Harbin to shine as her potential unfolds.
ADORABLE, sexy dance moves and catchy music. With so many K-Pop and J-Pop groups out there, it does seem like they all adhere to the same formula (though I am pretty certain diehard fans will beg to differ). Oh well. To each his own. Whether they have staying power the likes of Wonder Girls or Girls Generation remains to be seen. For now, just know that Japanese teens are screaming their heads off for Perfume.
After their double platinum third album, the trio now has a full-length studio album out. Titled JPN, there are 13 tracks here, electronica-pop mostly, for fans to gush over. For the rest of the sane music-listening public, brace for more of the same from a zillion other gyrating clones from the Japanese and Korean music scenes.
GIVEN that they made their debut in 1998, they are probably K-Pop’s longest-surviving boy band. Blame it on national service but the rise (and rise) of Shinhwa quickly sputtered and almost came to a stop. But that’s all in the past now.
The gang’s back and still as good-looking as ever. This 10th album, aptly called The Return, sees more strong beats, catchy choruses, pop-electro numbers and, for the ladies, a soaring ballad titled Hurts. If Shinhwa maintains its momentum, the boys can only get bigger and better with time.
The DVD included in this package, showcasing the boys in all their cool poses, should thrill fans to bits.