Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Song Review: Kary Ng's "告白/Confessions"

Kary's latest single "告白", which translates to "Confessions", perfectly fits into the mainstream type of Cantopop.  It joins the abundant amount of love ballads that have been released in HK for decades, but doesn't fail to impress nevertheless.  It could have sounded generic, but stops itself from doing so as the beautiful and sad melody, as well as Kary's lovely and strong vocals are captivating.

The song opens with Kary singing ever so softly, uttering the words with such heart and emotion.  The lyrics and her singing depict such sadness, pain, and emotion.  The piano and guitar strings contribute to the song's sad yet beautiful composition.  Having started with soft singing, Kary uses more power as she flows into the song's climax.  Yet throughout the whole song, it feels likes she's still holding back, never fully letting her heart out, making the song even more heartbreaking.

Although already quite outstanding, the music video is wonderfully done and evokes even more emotion and beauty out of the song.  If it's one major flaw of most Cantopop music videos, its the low budget and effort.  Some are good, but most fail to be anything special, never mind make the song better than it already is.  Kary's MV tells a story, makes use of different filming locations and shots, and creates such a powerful and emotional feel.  The MV depicts the once happy and loving relationship that has turned sour (from a third party?), and how both are now struggling over themselves, with the emphasis put on the guy's disintegrating mentality and happiness.  It has some beautiful shots, from Kary and her ex-boyfriend standing by the ocean, to their happy memories with each other with the balloons and pictures, and the shots of Kary singing in a deserted location with her dress blowing against the wind.

Kary looks absolutely gorgeous in the video.  This single, from the song itself to the video, shows how she's become such a talented, beautiful, and grown woman.  Despite her age, she has unexpectedly become one of the most talented young female singers in Hong Kong today.  This is a great follow up to her superb album "Myself", and I'm anticipating whatever is to come.  As a loyal Kary fan, I'm so happy to see how far she's come and how much she's grown up.  "Confessions" is such a saddening yet powerful and beautiful song, and definitely one of the most memorable love related ballads in a long time.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A.E. Insights: Current and Rising Siu Sangs of TVB

It's been many years since TVB raised and promoted their last group of siu sangs (Raymond Lam, Bosco Wong, Ron Ng, and Kenneth Ma). These four men all had different strengths and weaknesses, and are all now at varied peaks and lows in their careers. With many artists busy with looking for other work and money making opportunities, TVB is now left in a dilemma. So our question is...

TOPIC: What is your opinion of the previous promoted siu sangs and how are they doing so many years later? Also, with the drainage of lead actors, who should become the next siu sangs?

Iris: Raymond, Bosco, Ron, and Kenneth are all successful now, but at differing degrees.  I personally think they're all talented and handsome guys, but very different from each other and now all at different positions.

If you had asked me who was my favorite out of the four before "Moonlight Resonance" came out in 2008, I would've quickly said Raymond Lam.  Besides being good looking, he had the best acting chops out of the four and most charisma.  He delivered memorable performances that left an impact.  From 2002's "A Step into the Past" to 2006's "La Femme Desperado", there was no question: Raymond was definitely the best actor out of the new generation.  I absolutely loved him in "Survivor's Law".  He shined as the kind, witty, passionate, yet slightly gullible lawyer.  Unfortunately, his career made a turn for the worst following the hugely successful "Moonlight Resonance". His popularity skyrocketed, and he received characters that capitalized on his success as an idol/pretty face instead of the talented actor he truly is. All of his roles since MR have been boring and fail to show his versatility and charm.  Nowadays though, I wouldn't say I have a favorite out of the four.  What about you, Niki?

Niki: Now I'm desperately trying to remember some of the older series I've seen them in and drawing a blank, hehe > u <; I did remember Raymond in "La Femme Desperado", Raymond did have a very likable character. His acting was natural and playful and he carried the emotions well. Yeah, his characters now emphasize on his looks and the characters themselves had nothing much to them. But I don't think I had a favorite, just because I didn't really know or bother to pay attention to the actors back then. Now, I think I would choose Kenneth as my favorite. He's a pretty good actor and his sweet and innocent personality outside just makes me favor him a bit more.  

Iris: Kenneth would probably be my current choice in terms of solely acting and personality.  He's shown acting skills and vast improvements.  I also really like his offscreen personality as well, as he is a modest, humble, shy, yet playful and youthful person.  However, like many people have noted, Kenneth lacks the charisma.  He has the likability and sincerity, but not the "X-Factor" that some people are just born with, which affects how memorable he can or can not be in his performances.

As for Bosco and Ron, they were more of the "heart throbs" back when they first started with mainly teenage fan bases.  In contrast to Kenneth, they have the charisma, but are not as skilled in the acting department.  In recent years, they've been demoted to second lead roles.  In Bosco's case, this has actually come to benefit him.  Not quite ready to take on lead roles, being demoted allow him to take on different roles and develop his acting more in a smaller capacity.  This setback paid off for him as he received critical acclaim for his supporting role in "Lives of Omission".

Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse for Ron.  He gave the most memorable performance of his career when reprising the role of "Chung Lap Man" in "E.U." in 2009, and was the most natural and emotive he had ever been.  He continued giving solid performances in "A Chip Off the Old Block" and "OL Supreme", successfully shedding his "impulsive hothead" typecast.  However, with his vast improvements, he became demoted to second lead and 2011 became the worst year for him so far in terms of roles and performances.  They all either lacked a dynamic, were underdeveloped, or just plain unlikable, not allowing him to show his acting skill.  Even in "L'Escargot", he was only able to show his acting in his one crying scene.  Real life girlfriend Viann Zhang has only caused the actor more trouble and career bumpiness.  What is your opinion on Bosco and Ron?

Niki: Yeah, I get what you mean. Kenneth is sincere, but when it comes to charisma, he's beaten. For Bosco, I did take notice that he has a broader range of characters to work with. He turned from a witty and playful cop in "7 Days in Life" to the sly and manipulative gangster in "Lives of Omission" and managed to portray the characters well. Bosco can definitely take advantage of the demotion as his chance to improve his acting skills and he also has Myolie supporting him mentally (and also perhaps through the very expensive gifts they like to give each other). As for Ron, I really feel sorry for him. When he finally improves, his characters couldn't get more boring. I hope he gets better characters soon and also that his girlfriend won't keep making trouble for him to fix. Speaking of "OL Supreme" though, I really liked his dorky character "Ah K"; he was so cute there. This year, I would say his character in "Forensic Heroes" was likable and had potential. But in the end, he didn't have enough screen time and the character ended up being under developed. If it wasn't for that, maybe that character could have been a pick up for Ron this year. For "L' Escargot" though, I remember you mentioning that even though his acting was solid during that emotive scene he was still over shadowed by Linda?

So, Ron's heart breaking tale aside and moving on from our old siu sangs, who do you think will be the up and coming ones?

Iris: Yes, Linda received praise for her crying scene when all she did was scrunch up her face and force out a couple tears. Meanwhile, Ron fully emoted and even had snot coming out of his nose. I hope in the future, Ron will get better roles before I completely forget he's a decent actor.

And now to discuss the next siu sangs of TVB.  Ruco Chan and Raymond Wong are the latest to have been promoted to lead actor, and both came with over a decade of experience.  This makes it hard for the young and newer actors to catch up.  Most recently, Jason Chan has been given the chance to lead in an upcoming series with Linda, so that will be interesting to watch.  Jason's handsome and friendly exterior, coupled with his educated and modest personality make him very likable.  However, his acting is still green and could use a lot of work.

Niki: Ah yes, Jason. I heard that he was being promoted lately. What is his drama with Linda? His acting should improve as he goes along.

There's also Matthew Ko, who was recently in "Sergeant Tabloid". I don't know if he's going to be a siu sang in the future, since his acting still needs work. But his character in "Sergeant Tabloid" was cute and likable, and he was able to garner some attention. It was a good improvement from when he was in "Man in Charge", where he was still unnatural and quite wooden in front of the camera. His handsome and charming looks makes him a good candidate to promote though. I also appreciate his straightforward personality.  It's quite refreshing.

Iris: Jason and Linda are starring in "Ferris Wheel of Happiness", which is a romance drama I think.  It is a smaller production, so it'll allow Jason to improve without having such a large weight on his shoulders.

I agree with what you said about Matthew.  He showed significant improvements in "Sergeant Tabloid", but I'm unsure as to if his acting truly improved or if it was the character.  Whatever it is, he shows potential.  He has the looks and charm, and is starting to improve.  I also like his straightforward and honest personality, which is hard to come by in the entertainment industry.  He's not ready to be lead yet, but I hope TVB gives him good supporting roles and potentially groom him into a siu sang in the future.

The one I have the most confidence in being the next siu sang though, is Edwin Siu.  He has been in the industry since 2002 and starred in "Aqua Heroes" in 2004, where his acting was mediocre.  However, since returning to TVB in 2008 and restarting his whole career, his acting has improved by heaps and bounds.  He's worked very hard, and it shows.  This year, he surprised and impressed everyone with his comedic talent in "Daddy Good Deeds" and made a complete 360 in "Gloves Come Off" as a semi-villain.  He has the hardworking and modest personality, charm, talent, and handsome yet cute looks.  He definitely has what it takes, and has the most range of all the rising actors right now.  All I'm saying is, he better get the recognition and promotion he deserves!

Niki: Edwin definitely has what it takes to become a siu sang. If TVB would open its eyes and promote him better I would be so happy. He was adorable in "Daddy Good Deeds"; he and Steven were the best part of the show. He really surprised me with his role in "Gloves Come Off". I didn't expect it, but he was actually able to scare me. His character didn't get that much screen time, being a minor role, but Edwin really shined and made the most out of it.

But speaking of recognition, Him Law is getting a lot of attention lately and all for the wrong things. All we've been hearing lately is rumors and scandals of Him, from him dating Tavia to the photo shoot case, as opposed to his acting. However, he is a pretty good actor, and his popularity is growing right now. So what do you think of him as a future siu sang?

Out of the younger guys, Him is the most natural actor. He has a lot of potential and has improved. However, he is definitely getting recognized for all the wrong things and has become a regular tabloid target. His real life personality is probably the worst out of everyone's with a history of domestic violence and several scandals, which makes it hard for me to look beyond it and truly enjoy his acting nowadays. Him is probably TVB's first choice to promote right now, but I hope Edwin gets the recognition he deserves too and that Him matures. In general, Him is an actor who I like as an actor, but not as a person.

In contrast to Him, Vincent Wong is someone whose real life personality is very likable but his acting leaves much to be desired. I have heard good things about Vincent being a friendly
and down to earth person, and something about him makes him seem approachable, unlike Him. His acting though is only acceptable. He presents likability in his performances, but doesn't possess a lot of charm and his acting still needs work. He is most likely not becoming a siu sang anytime soon too, as he is a new father and he and wife Yoyo Chen are taking off time from acting.

Niki: Him really does have the worse personality out of the potential stars right now. He should change that soon or it could be what ruins him. And I agree with what you said about Vincent. His acting is nothing special, but his personality is very likable. Even though he's not going to become a siu sang anytime soon, it's nice that he's spending some time with his family.

Another rising star seems to be Benjamin Yuen. He has been getting praises lately for his acting in the sitcom "Til Love Do Us Lie" and in "Hippocratic Crush". After watching these two series, I can say that Benjamin has good acting skills. He's natural in his performance and is likable, but his roles are still limited. Looks wise, he's not extremely handsome but still possesses a good amount of charisma. While he's a good actor and has the charisma, I still don't see him in a lead role yet. Perhaps it's because he hasn't gotten too many significant roles yet, but he's someone to look out for.

Iris: I didn't watch either series, but I have heard many good things about Benjamin's performance and character. I actually first noticed him back when he debuted in "Your Class or Mine", which was also where I first noticed Him. It's nice to see that he's showing more potential and talent. He's far from being lead actor material right now, but it's nice to see him getting praise and more major roles.

One last notable actor is Oscar Leung, who has consistently given solid and memorable performances despite portraying minor roles. His popularity and recognition level has increased since "L'Escargot", which makes me happy. For some reason, I can't seem to see him in a lead role though. He's probably not very favored by TVB executives. Perhaps second male lead?

With the drainage of artists and amount of artists that are still relatively green, it's hard to choose who has what it takes to be the next few siu sangs. I think just having the guys experiment with different and increasingly major roles will tell. If I were to pick a few that could potentially be the next group of siu sangs though, I'd say promote and invest in Edwin Siu and Him Law, then train Jason Chan, Matthew Ko, and Benjamin Yuen to eventually fill the void. The one with the most popularity is definitely Him, but I think Edwin will have the most successful long time career. All these guys have their individual charms, strengths, and weaknesses, and I'm interested in seeing where their careers take them the next few years.

Niki: I can't see Oscar in a leading role either, but he does definitely deserves bigger roles. Second lead should be appropriate, he'll be able to expand his abilities further.

The next couple of years will surely be interesting. The artists drainage will provide a great opportunities for these new batch of artists to rise. Their career roads should be bright if they take this chance to improve themselves. With so many artists leaving now hopefully TVB will take good advantage of these potential stars. In time, with some polishing, training, and investment Edwin Siu, Him Law, Jason Chan, Matthew Ko, and Benjamin Yuen will be ready to make up for the lack in leads.

"Till the World Ends": Episode 1

Myolie was scampering around the apartment trying to make everything perfect for the special day as her friends Kate, Fala, Ella, and Ron watched in amusement from the couch.  She came over and started yelling at them.  "Why are you just sitting there!  Get up and help prepare!" she cried.

Her roommate and best friend Kate looked at her and replied, "There's nothing left to do.  Just sit down and relax until Raymond gets here".  Myolie, a perfectionist that didn't know how to sit still, did not look satisfied with that answer.

"Go clean!" she told her.  Kate glanced around the apartment and wrinkled her eyebrows.  "Myo, are you kidding me?  You cleaned this whole place spotless before I could even find the broom!" she joked.  Myolie faked a laugh.  "Hahaha, when'd you get so funny?" she asked, sarcastically. Kate shrugged and gave her a taunting smile.

Bosco, Myolie's boyfriend of seven years, walked into the room and started massaging her shoulders.  "Sweetie, Kate's right.  It's time for you to sit down and take a breather", he said gently with a smile.  Myolie could act so antsy sometimes.

"But Raymond's finally back from his tour in the US!  It'll be the first time us friends will all be together in almost two months!" Myolie said, anxiously.  "Yes, and if I didn't know any better, the way you're acting would make me think Raymond is your boyfriend", Bosco playfully replied as he finally got her to sit down.  "There you go. Breathe in, breathe out", Ron teased her from the recliner chair. Myolie made a face at him.

The door bell rang, and Myolie shot back up from the couch and ran over to the door.  "Raymond!" she cried, happily.  Edwin stood at the door, surprised.  "It's just you!  What were you doing?" Myolie interrogated him.  He held up a bag.  "You told me to go buy hot sauce..." he answered.  "Oh, I forgot...thanks, just put it on the counter", she replied. "Hello to you too", Edwin laughed as he obeyed her. These large dinners with the whole gang never occurred without a Myolie scurrying around.

Edwin came to join everyone else, and plopped down next to his "big sister" Kate on the couch. "She overexcited again?" he asked. "Mhm", she replied.

Ron leaned down in his chair to get right next to Fala, who was sitting on the ground near him typing away on her laptop and working on an article, completely oblivious.  "Hi", he simply said into her ear, which was enough to make her jump.  Fala whacked him on the head, and he made a funny face exaggerating the pain.  "You ruined my concentration!" she said.  "Ray's about to come, stop working!" he replied.  With an annoyed face, she shut off her laptop.

He looked over at Ella, who was also busy drawing a sketch in her notebook.  "You too, pretty girl.  Time to put away all work", he said in a mock tone of authority.  Ella looked up, smiled shyly, and obliged the request.  Fala rolled her eyes in amusement.  "You know when to stop working, but not when to stop playing", she smirked.  To her displeasure, Ron ruffled her hair in response.

The door bell rang again, and this time everybody ran over to the door.  Bosco peered through the peep hole to make sure it was Raymond.  Sure enough, their old friend was standing there.  Bosco opened the door and everyone erupted into greetings like "Welcome back!" and "We missed you!" as each person gave Raymond a big hug.

"Good to see you guys again", he said, smiling widely.  He was ecstatic to be reunited with his favorite people in the world.  "How was your first US tour?" Ella asked as she gave him a hug.  Raymond could feel himself blushing a bit at seeing his pretty and sweet friend again.  "It was great, a lot of fun" he replied.

"Hey, did you get me the phone numbers of any pretty fan girls?" Ron asked, playfully.  "You rascal!  Why would I do that, the girls would be so disappointed to see who called them!" Raymond teased him as he whacked him on the head.  Fala burst out laughing.

Bosco tapped Raymond on the shoulder.  "By the way, I think you and I were unknowingly sharing a girlfriend just now", he whispered jokingly, and Raymond gave him a confused look.  Myolie punched her real boyfriend, and shoo-ed everybody over to the dining table for the big hot pot dinner she prepared.

The eight friends sat down and dug into the hot pot feast as everyone broke into chatter.  "Everybody, I have great news", Raymond announced as they settled down.  Everybody quieted down and stared at him intently.  "Did you get a 'gwai mui' girlfriend?" Ron, who was sitting next to Fala, asked.  He quickly put up his hands in self defense before Fala could take another whack at him.

"No, I...", Raymond trailed off.  He turned to Fala and asked "I thought you were controlling him?"  "This is Ron controlled, my friend", Fala said to him.

" manager gave me a call this morning, and she told me...I'm going to be performing at the HK Colesium!" he announced, excitedly.  Everybody started cheering and congratulating him.  "That's amazing news, we're so happy for you!" Ella exclaimed.  "You've made it, Ray!" Edwin said.  Everybody started applauding.  Raymond felt flattered.  His friends, no matter how dysfunctional at times, never failed to support him in his music career.

After all the congratulations were over, they started bombarding Raymond with questions.  "Will we get tickets?" Fala asked.  "I will try my best to get you all tickets", Raymond answered.  Fala pumped her first into the air.  "Yes, tickets to see Hong Kong's rising superstar!  I'll get to exclusively cover it!" the journalist said eagerly.  "Hey...HK Colesium concerts usually have some bold and outrageous costumes.  Are you worried what they're going to give you to wear?" Bosco asked with curiosity.  "I haven't thought about that", he answered.  "They're going to make you wear something that will make girls go crazy over you", Ron teased.

Everybody continued happily chatting and catching up until way past dinner, and it wasn't until after midnight that everyone went home.

It was Monday again, and that meant the start of another work week.  Myolie and Kate went to work at their PR firm like always.  Myolie was still feeling bubbly and content from the weekend get together.  Whoever tried to upset her good mood ways going to pay.

"Wu!  What are you smiling about?" her boss, Rachel, demanded.  Unless of course, that person was her boss.  Cold, stubborn, uptight, and unreasonable, Rachel was irritating and unpleasant to have as a boss.  Oh, and she seemed to hate smiling, laughter, and anything to do with happiness, much to Myolie and Kate's dismay.

"What, I can't smile, boss?" Myolie replied, cheekily.  Rachel glared at her.  "No, but the problem is you look like an idiot, like a stupid and naive little teenage girl in love", she replied.

Kate looked up from her desk after hearing Rachel's last remark.  The two were engaged in a dead lock stare with each other.  She froze.  This was not going to slide with Myo very well.  "Hey, what's going on here?" she asked casually as she came over and put her arms around the two women.  The two didn't seem to acknowledge her.

"You're calling me a stupid, naive little girl in love, eh?" Myolie answered, clearly ticked off, but trying to retain her composure.  Kate, still calm, tried to play the mediator.  "No, I'm sure she didn't mean that.  She just didn't want us to get distracted from our work", she stated.

Without even glancing at Kate, Rachel sneered at Myolie.  "Yes, that's what I'm calling you!" Rachel replied.  Kate looked up in annoyance.  Who was she to call her best friend a stupid little girl?  A little out if it at times, sure, but not stupid!  Kate was the more level headed girl of the group, but she wasn't going to let someone call Myolie stupid.  And from someone who's supposed to be a superior and professional figure no less, how immature!

"Oh, you're resorting to name calling now?" Kate asked Rachel, cooly.  "Well, I think that you're just someone who's lacking happiness in her own life, so she takes it out on her subordinates.  Is that really necessary though?  You could be so much more professional than that.  It's quite disappointing actually", she said in an aloof tone.  Rachel looked horrified at what her subordinate just said.  "Excuse me?" she asked.

Myolie looked at Kate in admiration.  She had managed to stand up to someone the whole firm had wanted to for the longest time, and without losing her composure for one second.  It was time for her to take a jab at her pinhead of a boss.  What was the perfect jab?  Next thing she knew, something very foolish slipped out of her mouth. "You heard what she said, you pinhead of a boss!" she said.  As soon as the words came out, she froze.  What did she just do?!  At the same time, something about it felt very sweet.  Evilly sweet.

The office became dead silent.  Even Kate looked shocked at what Myolie said.  Rachel was furious.  "Pinhead?!" she raised her voice.  "That's it, you two are fired!" she screamed.

Myolie wasn't going to stop now, she was just getting started.  She felt an odd sense of satisfaction and relief.  "You want to fire us, fine!  You take pleasure out of people's misery and can't stand to see people enjoying life just the tiniest bit.  I'm tired of working for such a witch!  And you know what, I'm not going to anymore!  We quit!"  Rachel's eyes looked like they were about to bulge out of her head.  Kate stood there motionless, unable to comprehend what just happened.   Did she just lose her job?  Because her friend called their boss a pinhead?

Myolie, not quite realizing what she had just did, took Kate's hand and started pulling her away.  "See you suckers!" she yelled to everyone with a feeling of triumph.

"You know you can't quit after you've been fired right..", is all Kate managed to mutter to Myolie as they left the work building.  Oh well.  What just happened would sink into Myolie's head.  And when it was going to be a disaster.


Comments: First episode!  Rather long, since I wanted to introduce everybody and at least have them each say a couple lines.  As opposed to jumping straight into one individual's story, I wanted to have all the friends together and mix.  I hope Myolie doesn't seem crazy!  She's just supposed to be eccentric and slightly obsessive compulsive.  I can imagine her playing this character very well and being funny, as opposed to annoying.  Second episode coming soon!  Feedback please!  :)

"Till the World Ends": Forewords + Character Descriptions

Synopsis: In the prime of their life, 8 young adults in their mid 20s are all leading different career and life paths. However, this large group of individuals all are bound by a strong friendship: one full of trust, understanding, laughs, and quirks. No matter where life takes them, they'll always be there for each other, until the world ends. "Till the World Ends" follows the lives, adventures, and situations these young adults face in what should be a fun and humorous sitcom.

Genre: Sitcom, Comedy, Drama, Friendship, Romance

Cast: Raymond Lam, Ella Koon, Myolie Wu, Bosco Wong, Ron Ng, Fala Chen, Kate Tsui, Edwin Siu

Character Descriptions

Raymond Lam
Career: Singer
He started off as a talented and acclaimed rising musician, whose popularity made him become Hong Kong's #1 idol. He loses control of his career and starts to feel like a joke. His friends constantly poke fun and make jokes of what he has become. He is charming and laid back but humble and easily feels awkward, particularly with his idol image. (Parody of himself)

Ella Koon
Career: Interior designer
A shy yet sweet, thoughtful, but intelligent and creative girl whose hidden talent is music. Through their mutual interest in music, she sparks Raymond's passion for it again.

Bosco Wong
Career: Businessman.
An easy going and calm guy. He leads a less structured life and goes with the flow, often winging things as he goes along. He and Myolie are the stable and long term couple of the group.

Myolie Wu
Career: Works at PR firm before opening a pastry shop with Kate.  Smart, organized, bold, and eccentric individual but can be rather anxious and antsy. In contrast to Bosco, she is a very structured person.

Ron Ng
Career: Personal Trainer.
A playful, flirty, silly, and oddball guy who is very loyal and caring when it comes down to it. He is always there for his friends, particularly Fala.

Fala Chen
Career: Journalist, writes for a lifestyle and entertainment magazine.
A straightforward, blunt, sarcastic, and ambitious writer. She can be rather moody, but means well. She often has to put a rein on Ron's behavior.

Edwin Siu
Career: Web designer.
The youngest and "little brother" of the group. He is bright, quirky, shy, and quite a romantic. He and Kate have a brother and sister-like friendship, and are always looking out for another like real siblings.

Kate Tsui
Career: Works at PR firm before opening a pastry shop with Myolie.
An independent, level headed, but fierce and confident individual. Men are attracted to her, but are also often intimidated by her. She treats Edwin like her little brother.


Comments: Time for another go at writing a fiction! I hope to do a lot of writing this summer. My previous fiction "Finding Life's Sweetness" is on hold as I'm a bit stuck on that. My favorite part about writing fiction is writing the dialogue and character interactions, so I thought I'd try a sitcom like format. It will have an episodic format, with some stand alone episodes and some story arcs. I'm also going to include lots of pop culture references and satirical commentary, particularly with Raymond's character. Hope everyone will read, support, and give feedback!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Song Review: Fiona Sit's "倒刺/Hangnail"

Fiona has released her third song of the year, "倒刺/Hangnail".  She is on a roll this year!  Consistently releasing some of the best material this year and her best yet, she once again has listeners (or at least me) wanting more.

"Hangnail", or "Inverted Thorn", opens with a strong piano intro that manages to hook in the listener within the first five seconds.  The piano continues to play in the background and flows into a serene, mysterious, and trance like composition that makes the song mesmerizing and intriguing.  Fiona's vocals, which have vastly improved over the years, sound fantastic and help create the trance like feel.  She hits the high notes with ease.  She sings the lyrics with emotion, seeming to express the pain she feels.  The main vocals are also layered over with back up vocals done by herself and other singers, creating an even more intricate sound.

The song's refreshingly mesmerizing and mysterious sound, coupled with the showing off of Fiona's vocals, make this one of the most unique and intriguing songs of the year.  I can't wait for her to release her self directed music video!

For those unaware, Fiona will be having her first concert at the prestigious venue, the HK Coliseum, on July 7th.  Congratulations Fiona!  You've come so far and deserve every bit of your success.

Listen to the song below:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Album Review: SISTAR's "Alone" EP

SISTAR's latest EP "Alone" continues on from the sleek and classy vibe of the title single, resulting in a consistent yet enjoyable album listen.

The EP opens with "Come Closer". This short intro is just a minute long, but sets the tone for the rest of the album very well. It does its job: it intrigues you and makes you want to hear more. A very stylish and slightly mysterious minute of musical glory.

Next comes title single "Alone", which you can read into detail about here. In brief, it is sleek, classy, and exhibits great musical production and distinction.

From there, the album continues a style similar and consistent from "Alone", but the girls feel more warm and friendly, as opposed to the sexy aloofness of the title track.

"No Mercy" is a catchy club track with great beats. It's not outstanding, but a lot of fun and makes you want to get up and dance. However, I'd say it's the least memorable song on the album.

After is "Lead Me", probably the sleekest and best produced song on the album. The sound is just so smooth and pleasant! The girls sound mature yet sweet and endearing. The raps are intertwined nicely into the song as opposed to sticking out. Definitely the shining star of the album.

"Girls on Top" isn't a fantastic track, but one I am particularly fond of. I simply love the empowering feel, especially during the chorus. It yells "Girl power!" without being too in your face. Instead, it's just a fun, upbeat, and slightly empowering song.

The already strong album closes with "I Choose to Love You", a solo song sung by the lovely lead singer Hyorin. The song is so sweet and pretty, and shows Hyorin vocals and charm. Her sweet vocals create a romantic feel for the song.

With this EP, SISTAR gives off the misconception they've been around longer than they've really been with their mature, sleek, yet fun sound. They prove they have what it takes to rise above the rest. Their style is familiar, yet creative and distinctive. The songs create great consistency, but are all still unique in their own way. There is no particular "bad" track of the album, and it all flows well from the intriguing intro to the closing track solo. SISTAR, well done, ladies!

Rating: 4 Stars


Author's Note: This review comes late, I apologize (is this all Niki and I wrote in the author's note now?). One of my loyal readers and friends Krystal had recommended it to me shortly after it came out, and I didn't get to listen to it until a month later. Surely enough though, I loved this EP. Looks like I finally have another girl group besides Miss A that I like!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Song Review: Dear Jane's "Let's Just Do It"

Things have only looked brighter for rock band Dear Jane since getting signed to Warner. The talented rockers started off the year strong with the commercially successful "Yellow Fever", and now continue their stride with "Let's Just Do It".

For the song's composition, I have many praises, but one major complaint.  It would've sounded nice if they had used a small amount of autotune to build up to and transition from the chorus and create a cool effect, but overlaying lead singer Tim's vocals with autotune through out the whole verses was too much.  However, the simple yet very catchy punk rock infused chorus is enough for me to overlook my criticisms of the verses.  Making another welcome appearance is a dubstep breakdown similar to the one in "Yellow Fever", but still very distinctive with its video game like sound effects and heavy instruments.  I love the dubstep breakdown they've used for the last two singles, but hoping it doesn't become a regular thing in their new music because it'll eventually get repetitive and tired out.

The music video is very simple yet stylish.  The guys all look handsome in suits while performing in a room with smoke around them.  The video goes with a consistent yet classy theme by having the video filmed in black and white, with occasional flashes of fuchsia in between cuts for an appropriate bursts of color.  In general, the video manages to neither be too much or too little.  I love the sleekness of the end product.

The song's meaning is simple: If you want to do something, just do it. Don't stand around contemplating the action, because by then it could be too late.  "Let's Just Do It" has flaws, but makes the best of simplicity and style.  Once again, great job!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Song Review: Younha's "Would We Have Changed" Featuring John Park

Before Younha's 4th album "Supersonic" releases on June 28th (mark your calendars people!), people get to finally hear new material.  Younha has pre-released her duet "Would You Have Changed" with John Park from the upcoming album, and it is a fantastic collaboration.

"Would You Have Changed" is stunning, and what I call quality music.  The sound is so beautiful and moving, and the vocals are strong and powerful.  I love how they chose to go with such an uplifting feel despite the bittersweet lyrics speaking of a missed old relationship as opposed to the typical ballad, as it makes the song even more special, memorable, and moving.  John Park sounds soothing and sweet, but it is Younha who shines with her range and high/low notes.  The two compliment each other very well.  This song is just amazing.  The best collaboration of the year!

There is no other singer right there who deserves this comeback more than Younha.  This is just the start of a comeback that will have everyone fascinated and on the edge of their seats.

Younha's Special Performance on Immortal Song 2

Following the settlement of an ongoing lawsuit with Korean pop rocker Younha and her record company, Younha is finally making her comeback.  On June 4th, she performed on stage for the first time in over a year with the song "Follow Your Dreams".

This performance practically moved me to tears.  It was such a powerful and beautiful performance that blew me away.  Younha looks so happy to be on stage again, and it is definitely where she belongs.  Despite being  so petite and adorable, she has so much stage presence.  I love how she switches from playing guitar to moving around and just having fun.  From her showstopping vocals and emotion, the band, the confetti, and how the audience just looked so touched and into it, everything about this performance was just perfection.  Since watching it this morning, I have been constantly replaying it.  There is just so much power in this performance it actually carried a feeling full of sentimentality.

I have been waiting for Younha to make a comeback ever since I started getting into her music in the beginning of the year.  Since then, she has been my Korean idol.  She is one of the most talented and underrated solo artists in Korea.  I couldn't be more thrilled to see this talented musician back where she belongs: making music and performing.  I will be closely following her comeback on the site!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Song Review: Khalil Fong's "BB88"

And Khalil Fong is FINALLY back with a new song and MV!  His latest plug "BB88" was uploaded by himself this morning, and I'm taking a break from studying from my finals to review this song ASAP.

For "BB88", Khalil keeps things fresh and interesting by composing a song that retains his signature R&B style and soulful voice but is fun, upbeat, and catchy.  As much as I love Khalil's mellow music, this funky tune is refreshing and contains great hooks.  Parts of the song remind me of Cee Lo Green's "Forget You" as both possess the slightly funky and upbeat yet soulful feel.  This song has not got out of my head since I first listened to it this morning and has been on repeat.

Already a song that puts a smile on your face, the MV proves to be even more entertaining.  The video finds Khalil running away from several violent and oddly costumed girls, presumably caricatures of his ex-girlfriends in an abandoned warehouse.  The colorful clothes, from Khalil's baby blue suit to the girl's get ups create an eyecatching contrast to the video's setting.  It ends with him meeting up with another girl (newcomer Diana Wong) in an old boxing ring, and the two engage in an amusing pillow fight. Fans of Khalil's "adorkable" charm will be pleased, as he is cuter than ever here with his action choreography and facial expressions.  The MV is a bit odd, but extremely entertaining, vibrant and matches with the playful feel of the song.

It's great to have one of Asia's most talented musicians back!  "BB88" is a fantastic song that makes you smile and want to move!  Can't wait to hear more new material, Soul Boy!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Song Review: A Pink's "Hush"

A pink makes a comeback on May 9th with their new album "Une Annee." This album has a total of nine songs: "Une Anne," "Hush" (their title song), "Boy," "Bubibu," "Step," "I Got You," "Cat," "April 19," and "Up to the sky" (ft. Yong Jun Hyung.)

The Song:
The title song "Hush" is a refreshing and energetic song with an upbeat melody. I really like the lyrics of it. This song is about a person that dreams about being with someone they like, but they are too shy and afraid to confess their feelings. When I first heard the song it didn't really catch on to me. Don't get me wrong, I do like A Pink's music, but this song felt different to me. Then I listened to it again and this time however I liked it. The very day I heard this song it was stuck in my head. 


The MV:
The MV starts out with the seven girls in identical outfits and throughout the song they carry on their own solo parts with their cute and bubbly personalities. They make cute faces and a hush sign with their finger over their mouth, they also wink a lot (like every five seconds). I love their creative and flirty dance moves. This MV reminds me of SNSD's "Oh!"

Author's note:
I personally love this song. My favorite song from them is "My My" which is in their album "Snow pink" even though this isn't my favorite song from A pink it's still catchy. ^^
"Hush Hush Hush Hush"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Girl's Generations' - Tatiseo's Appearance on Yoo Hee Yeol's Sketchbook

On June 1st Girls' Genereation's newest "sub-group", Tatiseo, made a guest appearance one the KBS variety show Yoo Hee Yeol's Sketchbook as a part of their Twinkle promotions. The girls were interviewed and performed their song "Twinkle". They also did individual covers of three popular English songs; "Take a Bow" - Rihanna, "Jack" - Pixie Lott, and "Rolling in the Deep"- Adele.

The first cover was Taeyeon's rendition of Rihanna's "Take a Bow." While Taeyeon doesn't have the R&B type voice, she still did a wonderful job with the cover. Her strong, clear voice really brought out the emotions in the song. Her pronunciation have also improved immensely through the years (I remember a while back I had to decipher her words). I've always loved Taeyeon's voice, it's strong and pretty unique, this has to be one of my favorite cover from SNSD.

Next is Seo Hyun's cover of Pixie Lott's "Jack." Now I loved the song and its rock element, but I thought Seo hyun's voice didn't really fit with this song. Her voice is strong and pulled of the notes just fine, but she sounded a bit too girly for me. Her pronunciation needs a little more work as her enunciation still isn't very clear, making it hard to figure out the lyrics. But her facial expressions were adorable and she definitely has grown more confident of herself. Overall it was a good performance, but I wished she would've done an alternative song.

Lastly is Tiffany's cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep. First of all I want to say that I personally love Tiffany's husky voice, but it was clear that some of the notes were a little too high for Tiffany and her voice would waver during times. During the beginning her voice lacked the proper emotions of the song, but after the start of the chorus she had fixed that by not worrying about the cute expressions and putting her all into the song. The other thing that sort of bugged me was how she skipped the word "feeling" just before the first chorus. Now I'm just being nit picky here but, I was wrapped up in the momentum as it builds to the chorus, then there was a sudden pause, and the feeling of something being cut off annoys me a bit. Tiffany had great energy in this performance, as she usually does, and I really liked that.

Bonus ^-^

Besides the three broadcasted performances, the girls also performed Destiny's Child's "Cater 2 U". The girls showed off wonderful harmony here and the song is just beautiful. Why it wasn't included in the broadcasted version of the show, I don't know. It should have been included though.

All in all the girls did a great job showing off their own individual styles of singing and performing through these covers. Performances like these makes me start to like the idea of SM promoting Girls Generation in small groups like Taetiseo, it makes it a lot easier to focus on the girl's individual charms. My favorite cover has to be Taeyeon's since she sounded amazing, but I loved Tiffany's energy and Seohyun's facial expressions. But that's just my preference so, feel free to comment about which cover was your favorite, which members you like best, or any other feelings you have!
Author's note: It's been a while since I've written a full length post, but this has been fun. I told myself to do this before I get lazy or preoccupied again. I'm not a huge fan of SNSD and frankly am a bit intimidated by them as a group, but I decided to do a post on this since Iris and I had talked about uploading covers of songs on here. I ideally wanted to include the full episode and do a review on it as a whole, but there were several problems. First of all, SM wouldn't let me share the video on any other site. Secondly, there are no subs for this episode and I don't know Korean xD, so I just went with reviewing the covers. I also tried not to review it based on the original artist but rather to the song itself, since I realize different artists have different styles and comparing them might not be fair. Alright, now I'm just rambling so...I'll shut up now and I hope you liked the post ^^

Monday, June 4, 2012

Khalil Fong and Fiona Sit Perform on RTHK's "Music On the Move"

Close friends and WarnerHK label mates Khalil Fong and Fiona Sit performed and were interviewed on RTHK's "Music on the Move" on June 2nd.  The performances were exceptionally enjoyable due to the simplicity and raw feel.  The lighting and candles also created a wonderful atmosphere.

For her live performance, Fiona sang her song "甜蜜蜜/Sweet Honey" as Khalil played guitar for her in the background.

Fiona's live singing has improved so much!  She sounds very sweet here and had good voice control.   The high notes were done well too.  I love how Khalil is such a down to earth and nice person with a passion for music that he's willing to do something as simple as play guitar to another singer.  The friendship between the two is too cute!

Of course, Khalil was able to take center stage too, and performed two songs. He performed a short cover of Stevie Wonder's song "Lately".  Along with singing, he also played a piano accompaniment.  His performance was near flawless, as his voice was controlled yet so soulful and soothing.  

In addition, Khalil sang his hit "好不容易/Finally", from the successful album "15".  It was short, sweet, and simple.  With so much talent and soul, Khalil does not need more than just a guitar or piano and his voice to impress!

Great performances from both Khalil and Fiona.  I hope to see them perform together again in the future.  I would've loved to see them perform "All You Need is Me" and for Fiona to finally sing "Better Me" live, but it wouldn't fit the mellow and relaxed atmosphere they had going.  Soon please?

Song Review: Keeva Mak's "佩鎗的茱麗葉/Revolver Juliet"

Talented and underrated young HK singer Keeva Mak's latest plug "Revolver Juliet" boosts lovely melody and vocals.  The mood and pace of the song is refreshing, as it possesses a feel that is neither too heavy or too airy.  It is a sweet and beautifully produced song that boosts a serene and thoughtful tone.  The use of instruments like the piano, guitar, violin, and drums are integrated beautifully into the song, something I love about great Cantopop.  I particularly like the climax with the drums and sound effects used.  

Keeva's strong, clear, and sweet vocals also faintly remind me of singers from the golden age of Cantopop back in the late 80s and 90s.  There's something about them that leaves an impression on me, like those of the golden age.

From the beautiful composition to the vocals, everything about this single is well done and pleasing. Overall, the song just sounds magical. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

G.NA's "BLOOM" Album Review

Debuting as a talented female soloist with stunning vocal ability with the powerful "I'll Back Off So You Can Live Better", G.NA found herself losing her original musical direction as time went on. With the release of "Top Girl, her music started lacking more and more substance. It seemed that after just a short time, the beautiful and talented girl was being manufactured by Cube Entertainment into something she wasn't, some pop princess. After taking a break from her music career, G.NA is back with her EP "Bloom".

How does "Bloom" fare? Does it return her to her roots or propel her further in the direction of creative control doom? Oddly enough, it does both. Of the 6 tracks on the album, some show the manufactured pop princess G.NA, and some show the soulful G.NA we first got to know.

The album opens with "Green Light", featuring Jay Park. It's obvious club feel makes it too intense and busy. Put humorously, it's like how a dance club would like if if you were high on some heavy drugs. It's still a very upbeat and fun dance track, but there's so much going on in its musical production it feels like a musical seizure.

"2Hot", the album's lead single, marks G.NA's worst single and lowest point yet. It's like a blown up version of "Top Girl", only instead of being girly and a wee bit full of itself, "2Hot" comes off as plain conceited. Do I mind if G.NA does upbeat and playful songs? Of course not, "Black & White" is one of my favorite songs of hers. However, "2Hot" has absolutely no substance and sounds vain. The music video is laughably bad. It looks like she escaped into Barbie's dream land. And firefighters coming in with axes, really? The song and MV shows no class. Instead of being sexy and mature, the song, along with the dance routine, is raunchy, tasteless, and ridiculous. G.NA herself is not tacky or cheap, but everything about this single is.

After the not so hot mess of "2Hot" comes "Summer Star", which is the redeeming and best track of the album. It is a mellow and soothing song that fully showcases G.NA's beautiful and soulful voice and range. This is the first time in a while she has gotten to do that. I love the gentle acoustic guitar strings that open and close the song, and everything flows quite well.

"Oppa Dasseng", featuring Sangchu, opens on a cheesy note with a phone conversation, but isn't bad. The beat is nice and blends well with the piano in the background. It's not a great song, but still cute and sweet.  It boosts a carefree and airy atmosphere that is easy on the ears. Her voice here is very sweet and thoughtful sounding.

"Drop It (Cut It Off)" is another strong track on the album. With a heavy R&B beat and influence, it shows G.NA's soulful vocals in a lighter and more gentle way.  It shows emotion with a more laid back feel.

"Bloom" closes with the English version of the powerhouse song "I'll Back Off So You Can Live Better". The English lyrics flow well with minimal awkwardness and instances of loss in translation, making it one of the better, if not the best, English remakes. Although it's odd how the English lyrics flow into the original Korean rap, I'm glad they left that part untouched to avoid a potential and likely disaster of a translation.

Overall, G.NA's album "Bloom" has contrasting styles: the original soulful songstress and the manufactured pop princess. It's content resides at opposite ends, as it includes some of her best work yet, as well as her worst. Although its lead single is disastrous, it's the only song here that's actually bad. "Bloom" is still worth a listen. If you can get past the fun but slightly headache inducing "Green Light" and the dreadful "2Hot", you will see that the G.NA we know and love is still there.  However, if it's one thing "Bloom" fails to do, it's prove how she's "blossomed" into a grown woman as a musician.  And for an album with such a title, shouldn't that be its purpose?

Recommended Tracks: "Summer Star", "Drop It (Cut It Off)", "I'll Back Off So You Can Live Better" (English Version)

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Saturday, June 2, 2012

New Banner!: Iris's Picks

For our June banner Iris has picked 8 of her favorite artists to be on the banner. This banner is to celebrate Iris's (belated) birthday. It should have been up around mid-May, but both of us had been busy with school and tests. The banner includes both K-pop and C-pop artists: Eric Suen, Kary Ng, Younha, Miss A, G.E.M., ALi, Patrick Tang, and Ella Koon. I hope you guys enjoy the fresh new image this banner brings to A.E.E. This is also the first banner featured on the site to be made by Iris herself. (Iris: See, told you Niki's better at creating graphics. :P)

On a personal note: Happy Birthday Iris! Thanks for all the hard work you do for A.E.E. I couldn't have done this without you, you're the best partner and Jie Jie.