Friday, January 8, 2016

AE Experience's 2015 Playlist: The Best of Cantopop, Mandopop, and K-pop

We are back with our playlist of favorites for 2015!

*Please note that this list reflects our favorites from the music we listened to this year (and we sadly have even less time to keep up with music now), and does not take into consideration all material released in 2015.

This post will be updated with Niki's picks for Taiwanese music/Mandopop and K-pop.

Iris' Top 10 Picks in HK Music/Cantopop:

#10: Mr. - 雙面人 (Double Faced Person)

It was nice to hear another angsty song from Mr. the beginning of the year. I like that the song has a more dark and mysterious feel to it, and the music video further brings it out. My favorite part though are the verses, and how Alan’s voice goes deeper as he transitions into the chorus.

#9: Jude Tsang - 格拉斯哥流浪 (Glasgow Rangers)

Jude is truly a newcomer to look out for and as a talented singer-songwriter involved in her own music, she is just what HK’s music industry needs more of. The pop rock style of this song is right up my alley with just enough edge and spunk.

#8: Robynn & Kendy - 想怎樣 (Think How) (Featuring Rocky Chan and Tang Siu Hau)

This collaboration between Robynn, Kendy, Rocky Chan, and Tang Siu Hau is dynamic with their four voices and very uplifting to listen to. It’s a feel-good and fun song full of energy that has some great vocals that work well together.

#7: Pakho Chau - 小白 (Little White)

Pakho continued his pattern of releasing two albums/EP’s a year while juggling his acting career (I seriously don’t know how he does it), but it was this song he released from the very beginning of the year that remains my favorite. The subject matter of the song is different from others as it is about the loss of a pet. Pakho’s vocals are solemn and heartfelt, making it a touching song. The MV is also quite whimsical and creative. The ending with his “Oh’s” allows the song to come to a satisfying and bittersweet end.

#6: G.E.M. 於是 (Therefore)

G.E.M.’s comeback album “Heartbeat” consisted of many great songs, but “Therefore” in my opinion does the best job of balancing both Western and Hong Kong music influences (“Goodbye” and “Away” sound like American pop songs sung in Mandarin). It is full of passion and emotions despite being an upbeat electronic/dance-influenced song. It gets a few points off for the not quite necessary and slightly awkward English rap, but it is one of the best electronic pop songs I’ve heard from an HK artist. The MV gives a simple yet artistic representation of the song.

#5: Jude Tsang - 密室謀殺事件 (Chamber of Secrets Murder)

She may be a rookie, but Jude has seriously gotten my attention from just her first two singles. Female HK singers overall tend to be much less experimental and adhere to a more mainstream pop sound, so it’s great to see that Jude is capable of pulling off different styles. With her passion and involvement in her own music and more edgy sound, Jude reminds me of a female version of her labelmate Pakho. It seems Pakho and Warner has noticed too, as Jude and Pakho released a mash up music video. The song is eerie and dark with a more grunge sound. I love the arrangement of the music and how it incorporates various sounds. Coupled with Jude’s vocals, the song sounds mesmerizing and a little haunting.

#4: Khalil Fong - 聽 (Listen)

It may very well be physically impossible to stay still while listening to this song. Whether you mean to or not, you’ll probably find yourself bobbing your head or tapping your foot along. Khalil just keeps getting better and “Listen” finds the talented artist at a musical sweet spot. The production on this song is top notch, pleasing to the ears, and hopelessly catchy.

#3: Supper Moment - 幸福之歌 (Happy Song)

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a male singer in Hong Kong with vocals that are more heartfelt and full of depth than Supper Moment’s lead singer, Sunny. The song is uplifting and moving and Sunny’s vocals bring so much compassion into the lovely and soothing melody. This is a ballad full of substance and hope without being the least bit boring.

#2: Juno Mak and Kay Tse - 羅生門 (Rashomon)

The title “Rashomon” refers to the contradictory interpretations of the same event by different people. In this case, the song is about a man loving a woman for 10 years, but realizing she wasn’t who he thought she was. Kay sounds lovely as always, and her and Juno’s voices blend well towards the end. I don’t listen to a lot of duets so this was a wonderful surprise, and I enjoyed that the song felt like an emotional and bittersweet confrontation between two people. Juno has come a very long way from the rough and turbulent beginnings of his career and become a respectable and talented even if not well-known artist in the HK music industry.

#1: Dear Jane - 咖啡因眼淚 (Caffeine Tears)

In the last few years, Dear Jane has either released catchy and simple upbeat songs such as “Yellow Fever” or heartfelt ballads such as “Never Be Alone,” but they strike a perfect balance with “Caffeine Tears.” The song shows off the band’s pop punk sound while being a meaningful song about living life with no regrets. From the edgy verses to the slowed bridge and powerful guitar solo, “Caffeine Tears” is an exciting and thematic ride that proves upbeat songs don’t always have to be simple and repetitive, and songs with meaning don’t always have to be ballads. It quickly became my new favorite song from Dear Jane when it was first released, and it remains my favorite song of the 2014.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Banner and Layout: GEM

It's that time of the year when Iris and I can finally breathe and do some work on this blog again. As usual the decision of choosing a new spotlight artist to feature on our banner was a brain wracking one. After having Louis up for so long, I really wanted a female artist for this next banner but unfortunately TVB has been lacking in that department lately. Ultimately, we remembered that GEM recently had her comeback this year with a full self-written album, so we decided to celebrate that. The banner itself is a dedication to her Heartbeat album while the theme is a nod to her song "Blindspot."

This year has been hectic, to say the least, for both of us but I think it's safe to say it's been a good year. AEE is another year older and even though we're just barely active, I hope that this blog can continue on for a couple more years!

Monday, December 28, 2015

TVB 48th Anniversary Awards Fashion Critique

This is much belated, but we are back with our fashion critique of this year's anniversary awards! From some beautiful ladies to some horrible fashion flubs and many things in between, this year's red carpet had them all. But first, Iris pens an open letter to all male TVB actors:

Dear gentlemen,

How hard is it leave the house and come to an awards show without making a fool of yourself? There is considerably less opportunity for you all to mess up, and yet almost all of you find a way anyway. You and your stylists need to get it together.

With love,

Beauties of the Night

Iris: I’m not personally in love with it, but Nancy definitely looks well-put together and like a TV Queen with the clean up do and sparkling bodycon dress. The skirt of the dress is also much more attractive in action as you can see it change colors in the light.

Niki: I love the shape of Nancy’s dress, it’s dramatic without being over-the-top but I wish it would have been a different color besides grey. I do agree with Iris on the fact that out of everyone, Nancy has the most put together look of the night. She balanced the glamorous dress out well with a simple yet elegant hairdo and makeup.

Iris: With the revealing back and delicate white lace, Natalie’s look was a very nice mix of sexy but elegant and feminine, which is pretty hard to come by at these award shows. The ponytail is a little casual, but I think it still fits with the lightness and flowiness of her dress.

Niki: Natalie owned it this dress, she looks classy, sexy, and elegant all rolled into one. The bold red lip gave the look that necessary pop of color. Without it, she may have been washed out.

Iris: Kristal is full of character, and this dress shows it even though it’s not something I’d personally wear. The pointy cut of the top of her dress could have easily looked awkward on another actress, but it shows off Kristal as the headstrong and confident woman she is. Her jewelry also matched very well.

Niki: Kristal’s dress isn’t my favorite, and the flower embellishments and white side panels look awkward to me but I do like the color. Even though it’s not my personal taste, the dress does fit very well with Kristal’s edgy and quirky personality.

Iris: Rounding out my favorite looks of the night was surprisingly Katy Kung’s. This dress makes Katy look youthful without making her look prom-ready (ahem Linda and Eliza). I love the paneling of the top and the floral pattern. I could have done without the flowers on the skirt though.

NIki: If I had to choose any dress from this year’s line up to wear (not that I can afford any of them), I would choose Katy’s. The floral paneling on top is just gorgeous and the sheer material gives it that hint of sexiness which prevents the look from being too juvenile.

They tried, sorta

Iris: Grace seems to have an affinity for ball gowns, which is unfortunate as these types of dresses overwhelm her small frame. I was not a fan of the scrunching of the top.

Ruco finally picks an appropriate outfit despite his usually strange fashion decisions. I’m not a fan of suede, but it’s not overkill with this jacket and it fits his build very well, making him look the most clean-cut of the males. And now to Niki for a rant on thin girls and ball gowns...

Niki: The messy ruching and stiff material makes the dress bunch up awkwardly instead of flow, making the entire look feel messy. These types of heavy fabric tend to overwhelm people who have small thin frames, like Grace, because it will add unnecessary volume which makes it look like the dress is wearing the person instead of the other way around. The overall shape of Grace’s dress isn’t bad, however, since the drop waist does hug her figure more so she doesn’t look completely swallowed and the color is quite nice against her skin tone. The only thing that really bothers me is the god awful ruching on her chest. If anything it makes her look even flatter because all you see is a mass of fabric.

Like Iris, I’m also not a fan of suede, but it works with the deep purple color of Ruco’s jacket. My favorite part of his outfit has to be the blazer neckline. The deep V and thick collar isn’t something you see often but it makes a bold statement and is a nice change of pace.

Iris: Tavia, as usual, chooses the boring and safe route with another black dress. However, I actually like this dress more than some of her other recent choices as the lace makes it subtly sexy. Her hair though, once again ages her.

Louis was one of the few actors to wear a classic tuxedo, which made the trendy actor look kinda boring, but at least he didn’t make a fool of himself! Louis Cheung is synonymous to me with that mustache now, but I hope he ditches the goatee soon.

Niki: I’m a sucker for a good lace design, so I really like Tavia’s dress. The nude lining makes the black pop more giving her a bit of sex appeal and the shape also hugs her body quite well.

Louis looks very polished and put together (minus the goatee), but it’s also very common look so there’s not much else you can say about it.

Iris: I actually do love the design of Mandy’s dress, which seems to go as sexy as possible without going overboard. What stops me from loving the look is the dark teal, which makes Mandy look more mature than she is. This dress would’ve looked stunning in a brighter shade.

Niki: What Iris said. Haha. The built and details of the dress is beautiful but the color does age her.

Iris: This picture is rather deceiving because Elaine’s side profile here makes the dress seem like it compliments her body more than it looked during the awards show itself. Some low-cut dresses can actually look better on small-chested ladies than well-endowed ones, but this one did absolutely no favors for Elaine. My least favorite part though was the greasy hair which came from using too much hair product. Why does anyone show up to an awards show with such greasy hair?

Niki: At first glance, I was really taken with Elaine’s look. I thought it was a very sleek look with the simple black dress and statement necklace, but upon closer inspection I was also turned off by the look. The back of the dress is unnecessarily low cut, especially considering how low the neckline is, and the sparkly chains going across it is borderline tacky.

Iris: Tony also went the classic route, but I much preferred the navy blue suit he wore at the Starhub awards in Singapore. 

Rosina Lam’s dress would have been completely boring if it weren’t for the snake that goes around it, which was actually pretty creepy. The gold does pair well with the white and a regular gold swirl would have gotten the job done. She does look sophisticated without looking aged though.

Niki: I honestly don’t see a difference between Tony and Louis’ looks, but he does look nice. Better safe than sorry I suppose. 

Some tailoring would’ve helped Rosina, since the dress just looks like it’s hanging on her frame and doesn’t have much shape.

Iris: Priscilla’s dress can best be described as mediocre yet a little awkward. Pictures don’t make this very apparent, but during the awards show, the top of the dress looked like it was just a flat and structured piece of fabric that was wearing her instead of the other way around.

Niki: To me, Priscilla looks like a mash up of two characters from The Little Mermaid. From the shoulder up she could be Ariel with her sweet smile and simple yet cute hairstyle, but the shape of her dress reminds me of Ursula the sea witch (maybe I’m being a little harsh). It’s no where near being the worst dress of the night, but like Iris said, it’s a little awkward.

Iris: And once again, Eliza looks prom-ready! This time, she went with an old-Hollywood type hairstyle, which amusingly enough, manages to balance out her youthful and baby faced look without making her look too old. I was convinced at first this was the same dress Linda had worn a couple years back, but upon closer inspection, it was actually just similar. Yay for TVB not being THAT cheap!

Niki: This dress makes Eliza look a little plumper than she actually is, which is a little amusing to me for some reason. The train in the back is a bit too long, it would’ve more appropriate if the hem was evenly cut all around, but overall it’s a nice dress.

Iris: Vincent’s sparkly jacket is fun without being too silly. However, it fits him poorly which makes him look more casual. Jacqueline’s red dress is festive but nothing to shout about, and was cut a bit too low for comfort. She has such an infectious and adorable smile though!

Iris: This marks how many times Sharon has worn white now since her wedding? The dress is alright, but Sharon should have opted for a different hairstyle as the side swept hair covers the eye-catching necklace.

Niki: I’ll just comment on Oscar since Iris has said all that needs to be said about the other three people. I love how Oscar decided to mix and match prints. The polka dot blazer injected a little bit of playfulness which matches his personality well and the black and white dress shirt provided a bold contrast for the eyes. His choice of prints made his look eye catching while the decision to stay with dark colors kept him from looking gaudy. His pants, on the other hand, looks a little frumpy and could be tailored better.

Iris: Selena’s dress looks like they were made up of two beautiful dresses that were sewn together to make one bad one. The skirt is a gorgeous pink ombre, and the top detailed (though way too feathery for my taste), but I can’t get over the awkward waist where the two meet. Edwin...just looks tacky.

Niki: I love Selena, but yikes that dress...The awkward transition aside, her torso almost looks nonexistent because of that ridiculously high waistline.

Looking at Edwin makes me feel itchy, because it reminds me of those tweed jackets grandpas wear.

Niki: Gold is a nice color on Stephanie, but unfortunately the ribbed corset mini dress looks cheap at best. It would’ve help if the bottom was fuller, but the single layer of tulle just makes the dress look choppy. I do like how she chose to kept her hair and makeup nice and simple though.

Iris: Stephanie’s dress would have been much improved if the top was just a regular strapless style top and not a ribbed corset. The dress indeed looks choppy and the high low design would have worked much better without the single layer of tulle.

"I know I'm not winning tonight, so I'll wear whatever the hell I want"

Niki: The floral embroidery on the sheer white fabric of Alice’s dress is gorgeous, but it is on the more mature side while the slit on the top is a little too low for comfort. Her necklace is also unnecessarily clunky, and just looks overwhelming on her neck.

Iris: Alice has a curvy figure, which kept her from drowning in this dress. It has a nice pattern like Nhi said, but it is unfitting for an evening dress. Her hair is also too messy. Overall, it’s a disappointing look for someone with such a killer figure.


Niki: Sisley should have just saved time and come wrapped in a comforter, because it would’ve looked the same as her dress...The problem this time lies in the way the dress is structured. Somehow it managed to add weight to her waist and hips making her look awkwardly bulky yet the dress itself looks droopy. To add to that, the dense yellow floral pattern looks like it belongs on a curtain in the 90’s and Sisley’s pulled back bob only ages her more.

As for Him, I’m just glad he decided to scale back from the blinding outfit he had on last year….

Iris: Please. Stop. With. These. Comforter. Dresses. The pattern could have made for a fun and more casual look, but the bulky structure just makes Sisley look awkward instead.

Niki: First of all, I have to say I love Jeannie’s make up. The orange lipstick gives her a pop of color that highlights her whole face and she balanced it out nicely by keeping everything else clean and simple. I would have liked her dress better if she had worn a black mini dress underneath instead of the two piece, but the design of the top layer is pretty cool. She definitely looks more mature here, but in a badass kind of way.

Iris: The design of the dress is a bit too mature for the youthful Jeannie, especially coupled with the slicked back hair. It is similar to Linda’s dress, which I will get into below, but what makes this 100 times better is that Jeannie looks confident and comfortable. A mini dress would have looked better underneath, but the bandeau and bottom was much better than Linda’s bikini and bottom combo.
Fashion flubs

Iris: I present to you… Linda and her new butler.

Niki: No kidding...every time I look at Kenneth I think he’s carrying towels…but then I realize it’s just his coat being bipolar.

Linda’s dress is just tacky to me, from the mesh material to whatever it is she has underneath...She had a similar style to Jeannie’s dress this year, but what sets them apart was the fact that Jeannie really owned what she wore instead of looking so awkward.

Iris: Niki took the words out of my mouth. Linda looked incredibly uncomfortable during the entire awards show, as if finally realizing all the eyes on her and regretting what she was wearing. Just looking at her made me feel uncomfortable. She was shown wearing a thick wrap later on in the night. Jeannie was sexy, but Linda was the tacky try-hard. Also, what's with the metallic hair?

Iris: Niki told me at 1 in the morning that Vivien’s dress looked like the designers went out and skinned a swan. Suffice it to say, I was very disturbed, but I can't say that I don't concur.

Niki: I still can’t shake that imagery of Vivien’s dress, so I thought I might as well share it with you Iris. What are friends for if we can’t suffer together. :) Besides the overkill with the dress (no pun intended), I wish she would’ve just chosen one piece of jewelry because the necklace, and the earrings, AND the bracelet is way too much.

Niki: Joel looks really nice...from the waist up. But hey, at least he wore dress shoes.

Iris: When I saw him sitting down, I thought “Oh, Joel looks pretty good.” And then I saw this picture. The skirt is awkward, but at least the outfit looks put-together. Ultimately what bothers me most about this outfit is the fact that I see Joel’s calves. No calves should be exposed at such a formal event.

Niki: Rebecca looks like she’s filming a “Silver Spoon, Sterling Shackles” sequel with this look, but all I can really see are her boobs. Unlike Grace and Sisley, this dress is a little too form fitting and I’d like to see a little less of her figure.

Matt would look quite nice if he didn’t skip his fittings. This suit looks like a size or two too big. Why so droopy Matt?

Iris: The cleavage screams “I’m young and vibrant,” and then the hair and gold pattern on her dress screams “grandma.” Talk about a walking contradiction. Matt’s pants just make me sad.

Niki: Honestly, how hard is it to properly tailor a suit? Why must everyone show up looking so baggy...

Iris: Hugo Wong is an incredibly attractive guy, but his level of attractiveness just plummeted in this awkward get up. From what I can see of his pants, he looks like they’re drowning in them. The length and fabric of his jacket looks like he’s about to take part in a circus and perform a final trick with his lion.

Grace’s dress can only offend so much while standing next to Hugo in that, but it’s certainly not appealing either, particularly the awkward black part of the top.

Iris: There was absolutely nothing in Moses’ outfit that was good. The color is cheesy and blinding, his hair is goofy, and he’s wearing sneakers. And because he apparently didn’t think he committed enough fashion crimes, he threw on that scarf too.

Niki: I'm just going to chalk this up to having two kids under 2 and a baby on the way frying his brain, because there's no other reason to explain why anyone would agree to wear something like this... 

Best Dressed Female: Nancy Wu

Iris: Nancy looks most put-together and absolutely dazzling in that dress. Niki and I went back to read our fashion post from last year, and it turns out this is the second year in a row we have chosen her as our best dressed female. Keep making good fashion choices Nancy!

Niki: Nancy has a very elegant fashion sense, but most importantly she knows how to balance the glamorous with the simple, so she ends up looking the most put together.

Personal Favorites

Iris: I personally liked Natalie’s overall look most. She managed to look sexy, classy, and elegant all at the same time.

Niki: Natalie is definitely one of my top choices, but Katy's dress has to be my favorite just because it fits my personal style more.

Best Dressed Male: Ruco Chan

Iris: As much as I love Ruco, I’d never thought I’d be giving him a best dressed title. He looked very handsome and was one of the only guys to avoid the safe route without going crazy and bizarre in the process. His suit was also fitted the best. Someone remembered to go to the tailor!

Niki: Once again, Iris and I can't seem to disagree, but let's be honest the rest of the guys didn't put up much of a fight.

Worst Dressed: Moses Chan

Iris: No need to split this up by gender. Moses got nothing right.

Niki: Who could argue with this? Moses just wins hands down. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Song Review: Dear Jane's "咖啡因眼淚/Caffeine Tears"

In the last few years, Dear Jane has released either meaningful, more pop ballads like 2013's "Never Be Alone" or simple and upbeat rock songs like 2012's "Yellow Fever." However, the band outdo themselves by finding a happy medium with "Caffeine Tears," which combines meaningful lyrics with the pop punk sound they are known for.

The takeaway of "Caffeine Tears" is simple, but resonates well: Live life with no regrets. Reality may be tough, but it is better to go after your dreams and live life to the fullest than to not have really lived at all.

Musically, the song is an epic one to listen to and you can tell a lot of blood, sweat, and tears were put into it from the band and the rest of their production team to make it sound so good. Howie has once again created an amazing and dynamic musical composition that at just under 5 minutes, plays like a mini movie. The song starts off upbeat with solid verses and a catchy chorus, slows down during the bridge and utilizes Howie's back up vocals with an echo and faded effect, gradually quickens, then erupts into an extended kick ass guitar solo, before ending with the chorus again. The bridge puts you into a pensive state and the guitar solo make you feel free.

A formula the band has recently found success with for creating great videos, the MV for "Caffeine Tears" possesses a simple story inter cut with shots of the band playing in an empty room, which illustrates the message of the song without taking attention away from it. The video opens with Tim waking up from a dream where he is about to die from a car accident after looking down at his watch, and is then given the same watch from his onscreen girlfriend. After having a jam-packed day going all over the streets of Hong Kong and proposing to his girlfriend, Tim meets the same fate as he did in his dream, before once again waking up. While most Hong Kong MVs these days look cheaply made or are not creative, Dear Jane's last few videos have been memorable and worth rewatching, and this is no different, tying with "Never Be Alone" for my favorite.

"Caffeine Tears" is well-polished and produced, yet edgy, upbeat, and incredibly full of energy, and has a hopeful message to share. In other words, it's Dear Jane utilizing everything it does well. They've yet to disappoint me, but have totally stepped up their game with "Caffeine Tears," making it their strongest single to date.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Making the Headlines #1

Everyday, something new is happening with our favorite TVB and HK artists. In our new feature, we will be pulling current stories we find noteworthy and commenting on them with some of our thoughts...

Louis Cheung and Priscilla Wong to star in “Come Home Love” spinoff

Sources: JayneStars (translated by Huynh), Hyn5 @ 幸而城 Fortunate City

Picture Credit: JayneStars

Iris: As much as I like the cast ensemble of “Come Home Love,” I’ve been long looking forward to TVB developing an entirely new sitcom. This spin off seems like an exhibition of TVB’s greediness yet laziness and cheapness. By slapping the “Come Home Love” name on it and calling it a “spin off,” TVB is obviously trying to milk what has become a stable brand. Yet, only Griselda Yeung and Max Cheung are confirmed for the spinoff. I’m sure some of the actors expressed a desire to exit, but I wonder how many people TVB even approached to reprise their roles. I adore Griselda and Max, but can’t help but feel that this is so convenient for TVB because not only are they fan favorites, but also likely the least expensive actors to hire out of the principal cast since they usually portray kelefe roles in dramas. “Come Home Love” also doesn’t seem like it could possibly be “Come Home Love” without Lai Lok Yi as “John Ma,” but I’m happy that he will finally be able to move on to other projects.

That aside, I love both Louis and Priscilla (but have reservations about them as a couple) and it will be nice to see them in something different, but I hope the episode order remains low so they, particularly Louis, isn’t committed to one thing too long and can film more dramatic series. The rest of the cast however, looks like it will bite. And...why is Priscilla sporting the same look as in “Swipe Tap Love”?

Niki: What she said (the problem with us always agreeing).

Tony Hung replaces Ron Ng as lead in upcoming nurse drama “Trainee Angel”

Sources: Hyn5 @ 幸而城 Fortunate City (News Story), Hyn5 (Blessing Ceremony)
Picture Credit: Weibo

Iris: When others have bounced up to lead roles, generally they have received easier roles that are either tailor made or like their actual personality before giving them greater challenges later. How many times have we seen Aimee Chan essentially play herself? A more experienced actor is usually also cast as lead to prop up the newbies. Instead of transitioning him into a lead actor, TVB is throwing Tony into shark-infested waters by first replacing Raymond in “Captain of Destiny” and now having him step in for another leading role that is nothing like what he usually portrays with the expectation he’ll hold up actresses like Moon Lau and Jinny Ng who have even less experience than him. His “monster instructor” role sounds like something many other more experienced actors his age would have some trouble with, never mind a freshly promoted actor, and unfortunately it’s easily predictable that he is going to receive a lot of criticism from netizens. Yet, I don’t think Ron would have done the least bit better.

Niki: Honestly, when I first read what Tony’s character was going to be I laughed out loud. I cannot for the life of me imagine him in this role, but I feel really sorry for Tony that he’s being thrown into the deep end like that. And this shows just how desperate TVB is to replace the veteran actors who are leaving. Hopefully, Tony can use the challenge and possible criticisms as a learning experience.

The general plot of this drama also doesn’t sound very exciting. It sounds like the drama is going to get either really draggy or really messy with all of the different love triangles, either way I’m not looking forward to it. Though I am still curious about how Tony will fare in his role so I may give the series a chance and watch a couple of episodes.

Kevin Cheng and Grace Chan's relationship develops in front of the media

Source: JayneStars (Translated by Su)

Iris: I’m sure this is so annoying for Kevin and Grace, but as readers and TVB fans, it has been interesting to see Kevin and Grace’s relationship slowly develop in front of our eyes, from getting to know each other during filming, expressing an interest in each other, and now going on their first date. I like that these two have been mature in their handling of the media by not being overly evasive while still doing what they can to maintain their privacy. The 22-year age difference is still a lot to take in, more so because of the different stages they are in in their careers and lives rather than the number itself. They still seem quite compatible so time will tell how their relationship works out.

Niki: I think that Kevin and Grace make a really sweet couple so far. I’m glad to hear that the two are now officially dating and that the relationship is progressing nicely. Hopefully, they won’t let the press and ridiculous rumors get to them, but if they can survive this amount of pressure so early on it’ll strengthen their relationship in the long run. Grace seems like a down to earth girl who’s mature for her age, so I think that the age gap will not be too much of a problem for them as long as they maintain a good line of communication. It will definitely be interesting to see where these two will be in the future.

TVB botches renewal negotiations with veteran Bobby Au Yeung
Source: JayneStars (Translated by Huynh)

Iris: Alright, someone needs to go and whack the TVB executives in the head. With all these actors leaving TVB, you would think they would do all they can to convince remaining artists, particularly their most loyal ones, to stay. Their attitude in these negotiations should be nothing short of respectful and sincere when all these talented and profitable actors can be making bank and receiving better opportunities elsewhere. The fact that they would treat Bobby, who has been an asset to TVB and been with them for over 30 years, with arrogance is frustrating. If this doesn’t improve, the station will be losing even their most loyal actors. Get it together TVB!

Niki: Like Iris said, TVB needs to get it together and realize they need all the support they can get. Now they have to put out the fire but I’m sure Bobby’s already lost his faith in them (I know I would).

Myolie Wu contemplates leaving TVB, will get married in December

Sources: JayneStars (Contract story translated by Jingles), JayneStars (Marriage story translated by Su)
Photo Credit: MingPao
Iris: The chances of Myolie staying with TVB are very low, and while I have expected it for a long time and find the timing appropriate, I will still be sad when she ultimately announces that she has decided to go elsewhere.

However, congratulations to Myolie on her upcoming wedding! Although this wedding announcement came sooner than I would have thought, I’m not surprised. I wish her happiness, and that he treats her right. Now get ready for the press to hound poor Bosco on his thoughts on this any day now...

Niki: Sounds like Myolie is getting ready to move on to the next point in her life and she sounds really happy about it. I’m truly happy for her and I wish her all the best in the future. I think that this change of pace could be good for her.

Iris: We usually take turns starting a paragraph/section but I went ahead and started all of these yesterday since Niki was busy working on something else. Lesson learned… There’s a reason why we usually take turns: so the second person has more chances of still having something to say. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Iris and Niki's Ridiculously Long 2014 Year in Review

With another year behind us, Niki and I are looking back on how TVB did in 2014. Instead of writing separate series reviews, we have written a mega big year in review post. For those looking to see what series they should check out and skip, this is broken up everything into categories for your convenience and amusement…
Series excluded because neither Niki and I watched them are “All That is Bitter is Sweet,” “Queen Divas,” “Tomorrow is Another Day.” Series with only one person commenting indicate the other did not watch it.



“Black Heart White Soul”
Iris: Roger anchors this rare thriller series with his villainous performance and proves no other actor could have portrayed the manipulative “Matt Ko,” making his Best Actor win a big “Duh.” It also boosts a scene-stealing Louis Cheung as “Marco Ma” and a truly chilling performance by veteran Waise Lee as the coldblooded “To Yee Hang.” Unlike most series though, the cast acts out a great script as opposed to trying to compensate for a bad one. “Black Heart,” with its questions, plot twists, and rapid pacing, keeps you on the edge of your seat and anxiously waiting for the next episode and does not ever waver too much inconsistency. The female characters are either unimportant or not likable, but did not ruin the series for me overall (though Gillian came pretty darn close). My main complaint is the anti climactic endings for epic characters Marco and To Yee Hang.

Niki: This series tackled the tricky but intriguing theme of human nature without becoming tacky or overly-confusing (unlike “When Heaven Burns”) and that deserves praise all on its own. It was just a shame how Kristal Tin’s character was underused when she had more potential. She had more to do at the end of the series working to expose “Matt”, but for the most part she just played Matt’s obedient girlfriend. I also agree that Marco and To Yee Hang deserved a more fulfilling ending than what they got.

“Gilded Chopsticks”
Iris: Ancient comedies from TVB these days are rarely funny and usually just dumb, but “Gilded Chopsticks” managed to balance being genuinely laugh out loud funny and fun while balancing it with palatial drama (which for once didn’t make me want to stab myself). Wong Cho Lam was hilarious in a silly fashion without being annoying or over the top, and I especially enjoyed his friendship with Ben Wong and relationship with the cute Stephanie Ho. Although I think Ben lacks charisma as a main lead, this is an entertaining drama with humor from start to finish.

Niki: This was a fun drama, but I felt like the food theme didn’t go together with the political storyline that was happening with Ben and Louis Cheung. About halfway along the food theme became more supplementary, which is a shame because I wanted to see more of that aspect.

“Never Dance Alone”
Iris: This series was the victim of getting majorly snubbed at the Anniversary Awards (it only managed to score acting nominations for Lawrence Cheng and Eliza Sam, ironically enough for giving two of the least worthy performances). The whole M Club ensemble gives strong and likable performances (except for maybe the underused Fennie Yuen), particularly Carman Lee and Rachel Lee. Flora Chan, who I usually dislike, ended up being one I loved to hate with her arrogant use of English and playful bitchiness. I personally was not crazy about the excessive use of flashbacks but the young actresses were good as well. “Never Dance Alone” was lighthearted, fun, and sweet with a refreshing and solid cast.

Niki: I didn’t mind the flashbacks actually. It was interesting to compare the young characters to where they are currently. Even though it was a more lighthearted series it did have its darker moments that I didn’t expect, but unlike other series it wasn’t completely random and actually contributed to the story’s development. What I liked best about this series was that you could connect with what the characters went through and there was a certain feeling of nostalgia (especially since we watched this during our senior year of high school).

“Storm in a Cocoon”
Niki: At first I expected “Storm in a Cocoon” to be another one of TVB’s typical draggy family drama, but it turned out to be a well-written and suspenseful mystery. The constant plot-twists prevented the series from becoming too predictable and kept the viewers constantly engaged. However, without such a capable leading cast (Steven Ma, Tavia Yeung, Maggie Siu, and Evergreen Mak) the series wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable as it was. Steven and Tavia, in particular, were outstanding in their roles and shared undeniable chemistry as the star-crossed lovers.

Inches above average:
“Line Walker”
Niki: “Line Walker” created one of the highest buzz out of all the TVB series this year and for good reason. The series balanced its thick suspenseful plot with endearing moments and comedic relief to lessen the tension. Charmaine Sheh shined in this series, no one was more deserving of the TV Queen spot than her this year. Her character was sassy, flirty, yet strong and intelligent at the same time and Charmaine nailed all of her scenes whether it was comedic or emotional. It was also nice see Raymond Lam break away from his usual “chok” image in the recent years to play a more organic and playful character. My favorite character by far though, was “Hei Foon Gor” played by veteran Benz Hui. “Hei Foon” is the epitome of the saying “a dagger hidden behind a smile." He was the only character where you could never really guess what they’re thinking and everything he did had an ulterior motive (regardless of whether it was good or bad). Benz did a spectacular job capturing all of the dimensions of this complex character and really brought him to life. The series just wasn’t the same after he died and I kept clinging onto the hope that he would magically come back. The only disappointment character/acting-wise was Sharon Chan. Sharon was supposed to be an intelligent madam, but she came across as weak, indecisive, and lacked any common sense (the series accumulated an insanely high death toll, WHY couldn’t Sharon have been one of them).

Iris: I concur with everything in Niki's diatribe, particularly about our love for Benz's character and dislike of Sharon's, and won't repeat myself. I also enjoyed Sammy Sum's character and performance in the first half, but unfortunately he faded into the background following his real-life injury, making his unhappy ending uncalled for. "Line Walker" is a great and entertaining series overall, but unfortunately simmers in its last third. Also, if it's something this series taught us, it's that there are a hell lot of undercover cops out there.

“Ruse of Engagement”
Iris: An intriguing action series, though it spends too much time on Ruco Chan and Ron Ng’s training in the beginning to then become much darker. Due to having been filmed so long ago, Aimee Chan's performance is weak and her chemistry with Ruco is awkward, particularly due to how “Jessica” and their relationship is written. Ron did not do much better and was quite unlikable as the guy who was always so quick to turn on his brother and trusted the girl he liked more. I ended up enjoying it most for Ruco and Yoyo Mung’s ambiguous relationship, and wished more had come out of it.

“Swipe Tap Love”
Iris: Some people may have disliked it because it has no plot, but I believe there’s not meant to be one. There’s a general premise and set of characters used as a jumping off point to just portray life in all its happiness, bittersweetness, and sadness. This led to a surprisingly somber tone at times without getting too depressing. Priscilla Wong is sweet as a girl next door type, and the child actress and dog were oh so adorable. Unfortunately, the first half is quite draggy because of Elaine Yiu’s character, and it becomes much more enjoyable after her departure.

Eddie Kwan and Kelly Fu’s storyline also went from being a little strange to quite sweet, and I liked their ending (Eddie’s real daughter accepts his money for her wedding yet still refuses to acknowledge him, but he goes on to build a strong father-daughter relationship with Kelly and walks her down the aisle). It shows how life doesn’t always work out the way you think, but that doesn’t mean good things don’t happen unexpectedly either.


Enjoyable but forgettable fillers:

“Coffee Cat Mama”
Niki: “Coffee Cat Mama” was a light series that developed at a slow and steady pace. It was more like a mini sitcom in the sense that it just followed the characters’ daily lives and didn’t really have an overarching plot. Eliza Sam did well as the naive and indecisive “Grace Bean” and the easy-going “Pau Chi Tai” was an easy character for Bosco to tackle, but they failed to stand out as leads. Acting wise, it was Vincent Wong who stole the spotlight for his spot on portrayal of the honest and slightly awkward “Yam Ka Ching.” This was a nice laidback series to follow on the weekends (if you ignored the last 15 minutes), but it might come across as boring for some.

Iris: Vincent was the highlight for me as well, and outshined Bosco by far. He nailed the smallest mannerisms which added to his character. May Chan was also very cute and endearing here as well. While it was obvious Vincent and Nancy would end up together, he and May surprisingly were sweet together, and I loved that it was kept mature and the script never resorted to fat jokes for cheap laughs. I wish she would play more of these not loud and over the top but still cute characters. I remember I also enjoyed the scenes Bosco, Vincent, and Koo Ming Wah shared together.

“Outbound Love”
Iris: If the male lead had been anyone else besides Ruco, I probably would have skipped the series. However, it was nice to see Ruco in a lighthearted role for a change and he was very enjoyable in the laidback and quirky role. He and Aimee also had much better and more genuine chemistry this time, with Aimee being surprisingly quite likable here. Tony Hung gives a decent debut performance as the second male lead. Still, drama was thrown in to stretch it out to 20 episodes, particularly with Matt Yeung, Samantha Ko, and Elaine Yiu’s characters.

“Ghost Dragon of Cold Mountain”
Niki: Do not be fazed by the cheesy name, because “Ghost Dragon” was actually a pretty enjoyable series. The characters’ different backgrounds and unique personalities sometimes clashed with each other, which resulted in some cute and fun comedic relief. It only went downhill during the second half when TVB tried to, once again, force an uncomfortable love triangle down our throats and muddled up the storyline. But Selena Li definitely deserves props for her solid portrayal of the two heavily contrasting characters “Tou Fa” and “Yan Mei Leung.”

“Lady Sour”
Niki: Personally I have mixed feelings about “Lady Sour.” On one hand, the partners in crime, Myolie Wu and Ron Ng, were definitely the highlight of the series with their hilarious (yet extremely touchy) interactions. On the other hand, the storyline suffered several plot holes due to the rushed storytelling that had everything happening in the last four episodes, and the unjustified cruelness Myolie’s character “Cho Ching” received from her in-laws just made me want to punch the screen. I also felt sorry for Ron who was demoted to second lead, but still ended up having to do the majority of the work.

Iris: I don't think "Lady Sour" really had much of a plot but instead, it was Myolie and Him Law's marriage and other events stringed together. Yet, maybe since I'm on break, I still watched and finished without much trouble as it still managed to be pretty funny. However, Eliza Sam and Him Law in the second half were such useless second leads. Alice Chan was pretty amusing in that bitchy but entertaining way. I liked Myolie and Ron's friendship turned relationship, but the last ditch efforts at storytelling and plot twists the last few episodes were shoddy. Also, given the time period, it's beyond me why Myolie's in-laws yelled at her about everything under the sun except for spending so much time and being so touchy with Ron.

“Rear Mirror”
Iris: The most subtle love story ever? Until the very end, Wayne Lai and Louisa So’s relationship seemed like more of that of a very close friendship than love. It was a series that moved slowly and steadily and never amounted to anything much with some family drama thrown in. Wayne and Louisa are likable but fail to captivate, and this series plot-wise is clearly filler. However, Tony and Natalie Tong’s chemistry was undeniable and their scenes were sweet and adorable.

"Return of the Silver Tongue"
Niki: Honestly I had to re-read the synopsis before I remembered what happened in the series. Kristal Tin and Roger Kwok were entertaining enough as the pair of constantly bickering and witty lawyers, but nothing about this series was outstanding or memorable. It was by definition, okay.


Sequels that should’ve never seen the light of day:

"Come On, Cousin"
Iris: I avoided "Inbound Troubles" when it first aired because I thought it'd be dumb and over the top. I heard a lot of praise afterwards and thought I'd give it a try, but time made me always put it in the back of my mind. I finally watched it before the sequel released, and absolutely loved it. It was silly sometimes yes, but hilarious, sweet, had a lot of heart, and never became downright stupid. "Come On Cousin" was what I was originally afraid "Inbound" would be like, only worse. It's full of bad gags, over the top "humor," and lacks the heart the first one did (with Ram Chiang's character being an exception). I loved Ivana Wong's character but just couldn't get through it. Wong Cho Lam is unbearably annoying. I don't understand why he and the scriptwriters decided to suddenly change the comedy style when the first was so well-received. What happened to "Don't break what's not broken"? The cast deserved so much better, and I honestly would wish I could forget this was ever made if it hadn't finally won Ram the Best Supporting Actor and cemented Louis' Most Improved victory. I gave up about 14 episodes in.

Niki: Sometimes when you try too hard to make something special you tend to overdo it, and that’s the case with “Come On, Cousin.” Wong Cho Lam was too focused on being different and standing out he forgot to put in the heart to keep the series grounded. Nonetheless I did enjoy Ram and Ivana’s moments together as well as Louis’ scenes (after his character turned over a new leaf). Without those three, I don’t think I would I have finished the series.

"Tiger Cubs 2"
Iris: This sequel screwed itself over the minute they casted Linda as the tough cop, whose eyes perpetually looked like they were going to pop out of her head. Unfortunately, the series is bad even if you put aside Linda's obvious miscast. The cases are boring, and somehow the action scenes are as well. The original characters, particularly Him and Oscar, are stagnant with practically no development. This would be more acceptable if TVB had interesting cases or used the opportunity to develop new characters or promote more minor ones from the first one like Benjamin Yuen, William Chak, and Patrick Tang. Instead, all we got was a static trainee character played by Matthew Ko who has next to no screen time anyway. After struggling to get through six episodes, I'm incredibly disappointed and have decided to just drop it.

Niki: The writers probably got lazy with this sequel and figured some flashy shooting scenes and a wardrobe of sleeveless shirts to show off the guys’ muscles would be enough to distract the viewers.

The one that never got to the point:

Iris: The series boosts some great actors, and yet the story seemed like it was a long way from reaching a boiling point that...never really happened. Wayne has tired out the whole loud yelling in confrontation scenes thing. Also, Susanna Kwan is criminally underused. She is an amazing actress that can pull off both villains and comedic characters with multiple layers, and I kept expecting her character to do something big until the credits rolled. It turns out TVB really was stupid enough to keep her sitting around quietly the whole time, and not even in that silently cunning way. Power Chan is the resident voice of reason and scene stealer as "Lee Tsau Kan," and had great chemistry with Nancy Wu, much to my surprise. However, the series is really not worth watching besides for these two. Despite being an anniversary series, "Overachievers" lacks real plot and substance, which, given past anniversary series, shouldn't have surprised me. The writers certainly weren't very "overachieving" in their efforts to write a good script - yes, pun intended.

Niki: I was also disappointed with how Susanna was swept into the background. It was a waste of such a capable actress. What annoyed me the most was the sudden change in characterization, especially Raymond Wong’s character. We knew that “Hugo” is greedy, power-hungry, and would resort to underhanded tactics to gain wealth, but having him become an impulsive serial killer was ridiculous. Grace Chan did surprisingly well for her debut role and was natural on-screen. Ali Lee also stood out as the manipulative and calculating mistress.

There’s something below rock bottom?

"The Ultimate Addiction"
Iris: It took me three episodes to drop the series, and from the absolutely terrible reviews, it seems like I made the right decision. They made a potentially interesting backdrop and set of characters boring, Sharon's police team was a giant cheeseball, and Sharon herself looked incredibly out of place and unnatural. And there were 30 episodes of this? *Facepalm*

So overall, how did TVB do? The answer is... Baaaa-d. Maybe not terrible, as we have only placed three series into the outright “Bad” section. However, with so many series listed under “Enjoyable but forgettable fillers,” it can be seen TVB is still not doing too well in churning out entertainment of some value.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

AE Experience's 2014 Playlist: The Best of Cantopop, Mandopop, and K-pop

Another year has come to an end, and us at AE Experience are wrapping up the year by sharing our personal favorites in Cantopop, Mandopop, and K-Pop in 2014…

*Please note that this list reflects our favorites from the music we listened to this year (and we sadly do not have the same amount of time we used to to keep up with music), and does not take into consideration all material released in 2014.

Iris' Top 10 Picks in HK Music/Cantopop: 

#10: Jinny Ng - "Love Me, Leave Me a Message"
While the audience loved Jinny’s “Love is Not Easy” from “Line Walker,” it is her theme song for “Swipe Tap Love” that has left me with an impression long after the series finished airing. This touching and beautiful while bittersweet and melancholic song is one that deserved more love.

#9: Dear Jane - "John and Yoko"
Despite releasing several ballads this year, Dear Jane’s most recent single “John and Yoko” is distinct as it possesses a more raw yet warm feel. As usual, the band’s passion and sincereity in their music is felt. Howie’s guitar solo is superb and a highlight of the song, ending it on a high and climatic note.

#8: Pakho Chau - "Remember"
Pakho’s rich and strong, passionate vocals coupled with this romantic yet solemn melody resulted in yet another great song for his continuously brightening career. His recent music feels as if it always has more emotional depth due to his voice and musical styles.

#7: Kay Tse - "Irreconcilable"
If you aren’t convinced of Kay’s versatility, I’ll point you to this song. Kay not only pulls off the edgy rock style, she owns it and is totally fierce without seeming like she’s trying so hard. I hope to see Kay embracing rock and experimenting with more styles more often.

#6: Kary Ng - "One Thousand Endings"
Although a slower ballad, “One Thousand Endings” is a serene, stunning, and even a slightly haunting song about all the possibilities and paths you can take in life, both good and bad. Kary’s vocals are filled with such emotion it gives the song a strong melancholic feel.

#5: AGA - "One"
AGA’s hit “One,” which spawned a successful duet version with Gin Lee, does not try to do anything experimental, but instead perfects characteristics of typical Cantopop mainstream pop. With a lovely melody and sweet and endearing vocals by AGA, this midtempo song is beautiful and memorable.

#4: Pakho Chau - "Keep Going"
Starting as a model turned idol singer, Pakho has become one of the most talented and well-rounded young artists in Hong Kong today. “Keep Going” is an uplifting, inspiring and thoughtful song encouraging you to never give up and keep looking forward.

#3: Fiona Sit - "Pheromones"
“Pheromones” is hopelessly catchy and infectious while being fun and even a little flirty. Fiona is definitely on her way to becoming the next Cantopop Queen. Besides knowing her musical strengths, Khalil’s touch of flair can also be seen on this Fiona hit, as he composed, arranged, and produced the song for his good friend.

#2: Khalil Fong - "Little Fong"
Known as Hong Kong’s Soul Boy for a reason, the autobiographical “Little Fong” shows off Khalil’s musical specialties and stylistic flair with his fusion of R&B and rap. The end result is a very sleek, smooth, yet catchy track.

#1: Kay Tse - "Eggs and Lamb"
Both Pakho and Kay had exceptional years, allowing two of their songs to make this list. Inspired by the film “12 Years a Slave,” “Eggs and Lamb” is a song about freedom that sees Kay exhibiting a darker pop-rock influenced style with hints of angst. Kay Tse is quite a versatile artist and it’s nice to see Kay showing the audience this again. After a relatively quiet two years, this social commentary with a bite proves Kay will only increase her dominance in Cantopop in the years to come.

Niki's Top 10 Picks in Taiwanese Music/ Mandopop:

#10: Calvin Chen - "How Has Love Been"
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that Calvin was coming out with a solo EP, because I’ve been a long time fan of his. While I’m not so fond of his title track, “How Has Love Been” quickly grew on me with its infectious melody.

#9:  Selina Jen - "Watch Me Now"
After knowing how much Selina has endured over the past couple of years I’m so proud to see how well she’s been doing. “Watch Me Now” is a perfect reflection of Selina’s cute and spunky personality, she’s definitely an artist to watch.

#8: Pets Ceng - "Just Lose It"
Pets’ song is a gentle and relaxing mid-tempo track that captures the feelings of young love. The song itself is a pretty typical pop song, but the sweetness of Pets’ vocals adds a special element that makes the song absolutely addicting to listen to.

#7: Ella Chen - "Unsolvable"
Ella has matured greatly as an artist since she started pursuing her own music and it really shows in this touching ballad. Her rich vocals give this melancholic song a sense of warmth making it all the more memorable.

#6: Aaron Yan- "That's Not Me"
“That’s Not Me” is a hauntingly beautiful song that captures your emotions with every listen. The arrangement and composition of this song highlights Aaron’s strengths in the best possible way.

#5: Wilber Pan - "Clown (Xiao Chou)"
Following with the success of his previous album “The Story of Billy”, Will continues to play with the dark theme of identity and corruption for his newest album “Crown & Clown.” The heaviness of the song’s lyrics are contrasted by the upbeat tempo and dramatic melody, a style that is very true to Will.

#4: Aaron Yan - "Unwanted Love (Duo Yu De Wo)"
Although I like his voice, I’m usually not a huge fan of Aaron’s work. Most of his stuff is very conventional with little variety, but he makes a refreshing change with his “Drama” EP (which is why not only one, but two of his songs have made it onto my list). “Unwanted Love” is a catchy and funky mid-tempo track that leaves you bopping your head to the beat. 

#3: JJ Lin - "Brave New World"
JJ never fails to impress. As he continues to mature in his songwriting, his material keeps gaining more and more depth to it. In “Brave New World,” he tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world where humans fight to maintain their humanity.  Although it doesn't possess the same smoothness that I typically enjoy from JJ’s work, it’s a fun and creative track that speaks volume on how talented JJ is.

#2: Ann Bai - "If You Ever Thought"
“If You Ever Thought” is an electronic pop track written and composed by the talented 23-year old singer as part of her second album “What’s Next.” Despite her young age, Ann’s songs convey an immense amount of emotion and depth. This song has an entrancing and haunting melody that captivates its listeners from the very beginning. 

#1: Li Rong Hao - "King of Comedy"
Contrary to what the title suggests, “King of Comedy” is a dark and soulful acoustic ballad with rock influences. Li Rong Hao possesses a mesmerizing voice that’s deep and soothing (which many say is similar to Eason Chan's). Although he’s only been in the mandopop scene since last year, he’s quickly making a name for himself in the industry having won this year’s “Best New Artist” at the Golden Melody Awards. I look forward to seeing more from him in the future.

Niki's Top 5 Picks in Korean Music/K-pop: 

*The list for K-pop is a slightly shorter than the other two because I haven't paid as much attention to the K-pop scene in the last couple of years. I realize that there's also a lack of bands on here, but once again this is a list of our favorites songs/artists and unfortunately none of the idol groups have stood out to me lately. 

#5: K.Will - "Day 1"
“Day 1” is the sweetest song I’ve come across in K-pop in a while. K.Will’s voice is warm and relaxing, making this the “feel good song” of the year.

#4: Tablo x Taeyang - "Eyes, Nose, Lips"
Taeyang’s “Eyes, Nose, Lips” was one of the biggest K-pop hits of 2014, so I thought that it had to be included on this list, but I decided to go with Epik High’s cover (featuring Taeyang). While the original is nice, when I listened to this rendition, Tablo’s rap gave me chills and it also set it apart from a typical K-pop song.

#3: Ga In - "Truth or Dare"
Known for her risque and controversial concepts, Ga In decided to address the rumors surrounding her by creating a mock documentary about herself for her “Truth or Dare” music video. The song has a funky jazz vibe that’s a fun and refreshing difference from other artists.

#2: Akdong Musician (AkMu) - "Melted"
“Melted” has a bluesy and sultry sound that’s also slightly haunting with the sibling’s harmony in the chorus. Their sound is hard to come by in mainstream K-pop, which is why they’re so deserving of the #2 spot on this playlist.

#1: ALi - "Crying Hard"
Although horribly underrated, ALi is hands down one of the most talented artists in the K-pop sphere. “Crying Hard” is a romantic and solemn track that showcases ALi’s powerful vocals.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Song Ji Eun - "Don't Look At Me That Way"
    Ji Eun tackles the controversial topic of homosexuality/unconventional relationships with her song “Don’t Look At Me That Way.” While I applaud their efforts, the message was vague and a little weak. Had I not read the fan comments I wouldn't have known that this was the issue they were addressing. However, this song is still very catchy and music video was beautifully done. 
  • Sunny Hill - "Don't Say Anything"
    "Don’t Say Anything” was Sunny Hill’s farewell song for their group member JangHyun. The sentimentality and nostalgic feelings of the members transferred very well into this beautiful ballad.
What were your favorites in Cantopop, Mandopop, and/or K-pop this year? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!