Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Raymond Lam's "Self-Portrait" Album Review

Since debuting in the music industry five years ago, Raymond Lam slowly traveled off the path of being an actual artist and instead became an idol. However, Raymond shows redemption with the more mature yet diverse "Self-Portrait".

In past albums, Raymond's albums have been heavy with ballads and upbeat dance songs. Although ballads showed his voice and range nicely, it started to become boring and gave off the feeling that he had a "sleepy" voice. I wanted something different. His upbeat songs such as "Chok" and "Hello" lacked substance and were even somewhat laughable for their lyrics and composition and didn't fit him.  Rest assured, "Self-Portrait" is one big step in a positive direction.

Every song on the album is a bit different and there are many different feels and styles exhibited here.

The main plugs "頑石/Stubborn Stone" and "Because of You" are the closest the album has to ballads, but aren't quite ballads, which is a nice change. Instead, they simply have a slower tempo but carry a lighter and more serene feel.

"頑石/Stubborn Stone" possesses a beautiful sound from an orchestra and band in the background and the subtle yet obvious hint of sadness and pain in the lyrics are brought out by Raymond's signature emotion-filled voice.  The Mandarin version is also nice, but as usual, the original is better and flows more.

"Because of You" has a similar musical composition and feel but with a contrasting tone. It is sweet, calming, and sounds very romantic. Both are definitely highlights of the album, but far from the only noteworthy tracks.

The videos for both were splendidly shot.  It was nice for EEG to invest more money for Raymond to travel to New York to film the music videos.  "Stubborn Stone" was shot in the city, while "Because of You" is shot by a serene dock.  Both looked simplistic yet visually beautiful with the location filming and soft lighting.

"寂寞星球/Lonely Planet" is another stand out with its mysterious aura and subtle old Chinese influence. The song leaves you feeling intrigued and even slightly spooked from the mesmerizing melody. This is unlike any other song he's ever released.

"年時/Years" and "暗中作樂/Concert in the Dark" are also enjoyable tracks. "Years" carries a lovely melody and tempo that gives off a very soothing and thoughtful feel. "Concert in the Dark" is a more upbeat but playful song. "膠椅/Plastic Chairs" is another upbeat and playful song but has a slightly funky feel that's fun, but not fantastic.

"一刀切/One Size Fits All" plays like a song for a movie soundtrack with its suspenseful and strangely thematic feel. An interesting and dynamic song.

With my history of not liking dance tracks, at first listen, LFX 6.8 was not music to my ears, and the excessive auto tune did not help. However, as I listened to it more, it grew on me. It's catchy and has a great infectious beat. The hip hop influence is there but not over the top.

Aside from the main singles, "The One" and "I'm Okay" are my personal favorites off this great album.

"The One" is infused with a R&B feel, which is very refreshing and fitting with Raymond's voice. The song also has a slight mysterious yet romantic vibe to it that makes it so pleasing to the ears.

On the other hand, "I'm Okay" is an endearing and sweet song with an airy feel.  It's a fun track you can easily sing along to.  The female voice over near the end of the song rendered it more cheesy than necessary, but doesn't ruin the overall effect.  The music video co-starring Oceane Zhu is also very cute and smile inducing.


As an idol singer that has been sweeping up awards more because of the lack of singers and disagreements between record companies than his music itself, perhaps it's become easy to forget Raymond genuinely is talented.  He has good range, singing low as well as high notes with ease, and of course, the charisma and stage presence.  His recent material made him lose credibility in my eyes, but "Self-Portrait" comes as a true and pleasant surprise.  It is his album of redemption.  Here, he shows he has the versatility to sing different styles and types of music and has the potential to become known as an artist, not just an idol.

All of the songs here are worth listening to and able to set themselves apart instead of blurring together, something a lot of Cantonese albums can not do. Instead of having songs residing at polar opposites of the spectrum (slow ballads and upbeat dance songs), the album explores the things in between. Raymond Lam may have taken a few steps backward in the last few years, but with "Self-Portrait", he takes a huge step forward, and it's definitely worth nothing.  He is someone to start taking more seriously.

"Self-Portrait" is one of the best albums of the year and has quickly become one of my favorites.  Raymond's always had the talent, and for the first time in a while, he is able to show it.  Hopefully, he will continue in this direction.

Rating: 4.25 stars

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Till the World Ends" Episode 2

" what exactly happened?" Bosco asked Kate the next, who had just found out the two girls were now unemployed after coming home from work early.  Kate had called Bosco and Edwin after she and Myolie arrived home. Edwin, who was working at home, immediately came up from he and Bosco's apartment downstairs, which was located directly below the two girls.
Kate opened her mouth to reiterate, but Edwin repeated for her instead. "Basically, Kate stood up to the wicked Rachel for Myolie. Myolie got overexcited, as if some supernatural force got into her, and decided to stand up to her as well. Rachel bursts, and fires the two on the spot", Edwin said, making hand motions as he said it to make it sound even more lively and exciting.

Kate nudged Edwin. "Don't forget, as we walked out, she turned back and yelled 'See you suckers!'" she said, with her fist in the air.

"You two sure had an interesting day", Bosco said. Of course he felt bad about what had happened...but the way it happened was rather amusing. His girlfriend would do such a thing. He turned to Kate.

"Getting fired may not be the worst thing in the world though. Now you don't have to work for that Rachel", he said.

"I know, but what if we end up working for a boss that's even worse? And now it'll follow us to any companies that we apply to", Kate replied.

"Also, if I'm worried about this, I can only imagine how hard Myolie's going to take this when it all sinks in", she said as she bit her lip.

"Speaking of which...where is she? I haven't seen her since we came up", he said. He and Kate looked around the apartment for her.

Edwin, who had gone to the kitchen for a glass of water, popped his head out from the other room. "No need to keep looking, I already found her", he told them.

Bosco and Kate came over, but didn't see her. "Wait, where?" they asked.

"Wait, she's about to come up", he said as he playfully shushed them.

Myolie popped up from under the kitchen counter with a large batch of cupcakes. "Has anyone seen my frosting utensils?" she cried.

Bosco and Kate looked around with widened eyes. Trays of cookies, cupcakes, and muffins lied on every surface in the kitchen. There was enough to feed a whole classroom of hungry kids with sweet tooth's. Myolie had cracked.

"What did I do? What did I DO?" Myolie wailed.

Bosco came over beside her and started to massage her shoulders.  "You let out something that you've been keeping bottled up for a long time", he replied.

Myolie budged from Bosco's grasp and went to pull a kitchen knife from out of the drawer.

Edwin's eyes bulged.  "Ahh!" he screamed when realized what Myolie had taken out.  "Myolie Jeh, we know you're feeling frazzled right now but don't need to resort to this!"  he said.

"I want to cut the brownies!" Myolie pointed at the fresh batch of brownies on the counter with the knife.  She looked like she was more prone to passing out from the stress she was feeling at the moment than actually inflicting harm on herself.

Kate reached over and cautiously removed the knife from her friend's hand.  "Let me do that for you...", she said.

Myolie failed to react to Kate taking the knife from her, and instead sank her face into her hands.  "What am I going to do!  How am I going to find a job in this economic state?  And why did I have to pull you into this?" she said as she turned to Kate.  She leaned down and buried her face in Kate's shoulder and started to sob.

Kate, Edwin, and Bosco all looked at each other.  What were they going to do?


Ron exited the elevator to enter the floor of Fala's work place with a bag in hand.  He could see Fala diligently working at her computer through the glass door and smiled.

Opening the door, he tip toed across the room and put up a finger to his lips to shush the puzzled co-workers who caught sight of him from their desks.

Once at Fala's desk, he reached over from behind to cover her eyes.

In response, Fala started to scream.  "Who's this?!" she yelled.

Ron burst out laughing, and Fala immediately recognized the sound of his laugh.  

"Ugh, it's you!" she playfully scoffed.  "What brings you here?" she asked in her normal voice.

"You've been so busy working on your story lately, I thought I'd visit you during your lunch hour and bring you food or you would totally forgot us humans need to eat", Ron replied, handing her the take out bag.  

Fala peered into the bag and took out a hot sandwich and cup of soup from her favorite cafe.  "My favorite!" she said happily.  She reached up and cheerfully pat Ron on the head, who was leaning on her desk.  "Thank you!"

Cindy, one of her co-workers and fellow reporters nudged Fala.  "Your boyfriend?" she pointed at Ron.  "Very handsome", she whispered to her, but not quietly enough so that Ron could still hear.

Ron started to break into a big smile at the compliment on his looks.  "Why thank you", he said.

"Him?  Yeah right", Fala laughed.  Ron rolled his eyes.

He put his arm around her and said "This thing here is just my good, good, very good friend".  He paused, and added "However, she is quite a handful".

Fala elbowed him in the chest lightly for that last remark, and Ron responded by mocking great pain.  "Ow!" he mouthed.

"Could've fooled me", Vincent (Vincent Wong), another co-worker of Fala said with a laugh.  "Bringing you your favorite lunch during your lunch hour, that's not something I ever did for even my own girlfriend, he said.  "And did you notice her eyes perked right up when she saw it", he poked Fala's cheek.

"No wonder she dumped you", Fala joked and pushed his finger away.

Vincent pretended to take offense at the playful assault.  "Aww..." he said, and went back to work.

"Yeah, and she can't go more than a few hours without food.  Try starving her, it's like purposely inflicting pain on yourself because she becomes so irritated and irritating to the people around her", Ron said about Fala.

"That's not true!" Fala said.

"Aw, you two are like an old married couple", Cindy teased.

"Shouldn't you guys be taking your lunch break now?" Fala asked, in an effort to shoo them away.

"We still need to finish our stories too, no lunch for me today", Cindy replied.

"Then get working!", Fala said, and everyone turned back to their computer screens.

Ron turned to Fala again.  "Are you going to the gym after work today?  My last session ends at 5 but I still have to squeeze in a workout for myself too", he said, then poked her arm.  "Looks like you should too, your muscle's going away!"

"It is?" Fala said and looked down and poked at her arms.  "Aw man!  Yeah, I'll be there, I should have this story done by the end of today", she said.

"Ok, see you then.  Don't work too hard", Ron said.  He patted her head then started to leave to go meet his first client of the day at the gym.  As he left the office, from the corner of his eye he could see Vincent sneaking looks at Fala from his work station, then quickly looked back at his computer screen.  Fala, of course, was oblivious.

As Fala finally started to turn her attention back to her story, a new distraction appeared.

"Ahh, he's so handsome!" "He makes me melt!"  "He looks so good in that suit!" a group of girls huddled together in the office flipping through a magazine.  Raymond was on the cover.

Fala raised her eyebrows as the girls fan girled over Raymond.  She heard a lot of remarks on his looks and how "cool" and "hot" he is, but nothing about his talent.  The fan girling continued, but no productive praise seemed to come out of it.  She had a high appreciation of music as well as Raymond's.  She saw him go through vocal training and work hard for so many years before getting where he was today.  Did they not realize her friend Raymond was more than just a pretty face?  He's an artist, not a glorified idol.  Fala sighed.  None of these girls seemed to really appreciate and like Raymond.


Later that day, Fala and Ron ran on treadmills side by side at the gym.  Fala was ranting to Ron about the girls at the office who were cooing over Raymond.

"There are so many more things to praise Raymond about!  His voice and range, stage presence, work ethic, why do the girls only comment on his looks?" she pondered, annoyed.  

"Well, not every girl is as thoughtful and observant as you", Ron replied.

"They're not teenage girls anymore, surely they can show more deep thinking than that", she said.

Ron shrugged and said "You'd be surprised. Not every adult is as bright as they should be."

"But you do have a point. Raymond spent years studying music, training his voice, and searching for opportunities to become a musician, not just the subject of ogling girls", he said seriously. Then, he thoughtfully added "Not that I would mind if girls wanted to fawn over me."

Fala stared at the suddenly daydreaming Ron. "You were doing so well being serious for once until that last part", she said.

He snapped out of his daydream and turned his face to look at her. "Hey, of I was serious all the time you wouldn't find me so fun to hang out with, would you?" he asked in his typical silly and playful tone.

Fala rolled her eyes. "I guess not, she said with a smile.

"And she finally smiles again!" Ron said, pumping his arms in the air as if he had achieved victory.

Fala laughed wholeheartedly at her silly friend. Life would be so less entertaining and fun without him.


"So what are you going to do?" Ella asked Kate later that evening.

"Well, I got fired, I didn't resign. It's not like I can just go back and ask for my job back", Kate said.

It was dinner time of the same day, and the whole group sat in the living room eating instant noodles. While Myolie had downgraded from hysterical to just super worried and unsure of what to do next, she was still in no mood to cook. When everybody showed up ready for dinner, she handed each one of them a noodle cup.

"We'll probably be blacklisted by every PR firm in the area once word gets out about how we were fired", Myolie said sadly.

"You have a decent amount of money saved up, you can just take a break then start applying to jobs again and go from there", Bosco said.

"I'd barely call that a plan", Myolie mumbled. She couldn't go with the flow the way Bosco did so well.  She needed a structured plan she could carefully follow to feel at ease.

Edwin returned from the kitchen with a small plate piled with various baked goods from Myolie's baking spree earlier.  "Myolie, these are delicious!" he said while chewing a brownie.  "You should open your own bakery!"

Ella's eyes lit up.  "Hey, that's actually not a bad idea!" she said.

Edwin looked up from his plate.  "Wait, we were being serious?" he asked.

Bosco stood up straighter.  "That actually is a good idea!  Maybe not just a bakery, but a cafe too!" he replied.  He turned to Myolie and Kate.  "You two studied business in college and have experience", he said.  He pointed at Myolie.  "You're a great baker and love to bake and you're the most organized person I know", he stated.

Then, he pointed at Kate.  "You work great with Myolie and you know how to deal with all types of people and customers well", he said.

"If nobody wants to hire you, become your own boss.  You won't need to deal with unreasonable superiors anymore and you have all of us to help you out too.  People love sweets and it could be a great place for all kinds of people to come relax at", he proposed.

Myolie's ears began to perk up and she started to get excited.  "I can bake and decorate different pastries and create a serene atmosphere that will make people want to come and wind down", she said.

Kate nodded thoughtfully.  "That does sound very nice", she replied.

"And I can help you with the money to start it up and go visit potential locations with you", Bosco said.

"I can help you design the look of the cafe!" Ella exclaimed.

"Oooh, and I can write the first review of the place!" Fala said.

"I can advertise it on the web and create a website for it", Edwin added.

"I can come to the grand opening of the place and attract more people to come", Raymond offered.

"I can..." Ron started.  Unable to think of anything he could do for the cafe related to his job as a personal trainer, he said "I can try all the baked goods and give feedback!"  Everyone laughed.

"I think Edwin has that job covered", Kate said as Edwin continued to indulge.

Myolie and Kate grew more excited and at ease with the idea that had just been born and their friend's support.

Bosco put his arm around Myolie.  "Do we have a plan now?" he asked sweetly.

Myolie paused to think, and everyone waited intently for what she'd say.

"I guess we do!" she said, and kissed him on the cheek.

Everyone started to cheer happily for the great cafe that was about to be born.  Ron picked up his cup of noodles.  "A toast to new beginnings and the unnamed cafe of Myolie and Kate!", he said, goofily.  The friends chuckled at the silliness of the action, but all obliged and touched their cups together.  "Cheers!" they all said in unison.


Comments: After four months, I finally got the second episode done.  Yay!!!  I suddenly had the urge to start writing it again.  I already had part of it done a while back and finally got a chance and the inspiration to finish it.  I hope everyone enjoys it, that is if there are still people reading.  While I feel like I probably created too many main characters, I love writing their interactions together and have plans for all of them (some more detailed than others).  Fala and Ron's friendship was mainly set up here, and Fala is revealed to have a potential admirer.  And of course, Myolie and Kate quickly found new opportunity.  Next to come, Raymond will be going to the first costume fitting for his upcoming concert!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Brown Eyed Girls

Background and Career:
Brown Eyed Girls, also known as B.E.G., is a South Korean band under the Nega Network label. They originally debuted as an R&B vocal group, but has branched off and they have experimented with other types of music since then. The group comprises of four members: Jea, Miryo, Narsha, and Ga-In. Before officially debuting, the girls held small concerts under the name "Crescendo".

On March 2, 2006 after spending several years in vocal training, the girls officially debuted as "Brown Eyed Girls" with their first album Your Story. The album did well critically, but did not have the same success commercially. They then re-released the album to include "Hold the Line" and received further popularity as the song became a hit. However the group still had to face hard times as their second album followed the first in commercial disappointment as it was released around the same time as the "Wonder Girls" hit "Tell Me".

Then in 2008 the girls had made a breakthrough as they branched off from their R&B ballads to take on a lighter sound. Their mini-album L.O.V.E. became an instant hit and garnered the girls attention as it became their first #1 song.

Further success awaited the girls as their second mini album "My Style". The retro-pop sound became a big hit among k-pop fans and the girls rose to the position of being one of the top girl groups.  In 2011 they, like many other K-pop groups, expanded their promotions to Japan with "Sign". In the last few years, B.E.G. branched off to explore to explore other different genres and has had tremendous success. Now, the girls are going into different areas such as acting and working on solo promotions as well. 

Member profiles

Jea (제아) the leader of B.E.G. was born on September 18, 1981 with the birth name of Kim Hyo Jin. Before B.E.G., she was in a group called "3point" and was recording songs for drama soundtracks. She is the one responsible for the creation and selection of members for B.E.G. She is one of the main vocals for the group.

Narsha (나르샤) was born on December 28, 1981 with the birth name Park Hyo Jin. She was recruited by Jea to become one of the main vocals for B.E.G. Jea chose her because they had been school mates before and Jea had remembered Narsha as an incredible singer. After debuting with B.E.G., she gained popularity and the nick name "adult-dol" from her variety show appearances. In 2010 she started her solo activities with her first solo single "I'm in Love", a slow acoustic song.

Ga-In (가인) was born on September 20, 1987 with the birth name Son Ga-In. She is the youngest member and was recruited to be in B.E.G. after getting cut from the auditions for a reality show called "Let's Coke Play! Battle Shinhwa!". She was found crying in the bathroom by composer Ahn Jung Hoon who recommended her to audition for B.E.G.  Now, she is the most well known member because of her appearances on "We Got Married" and "All My Love" beside 2AM's Jo Kwon. In 2010, Ga-in came out with her solo album "Step 2/4" with the title song "Irreversible". The song earned her a win on Inkigayo, a popular South Korean Music Show.

Miryo (미료) was born on November 2, 1983 with the birth name Jo Mi Hae. Miryo was a well known rapper even before getting recruited for B.E.G. She was the main rapper in the group "The Honey Family". Jea was aware of her ability and recruited her to be in B.E.G.  She was also the first to be recruited into the group. She had recently released a solo mini album titled "MIRYO aka JOHONEY" with the title track "Dirty".

Music Recommendations:

"Hold the Line" is B.E.G.'s first hit. It is fun, playful, and catchy with its flirty lyrics and funky beat. The girls showed off their cute and silly side with this MV which makes it really fun to watch.

It was no surprised that "I Got Fooled By You" became another hit for them, their vocals here are so powerful and just beautiful. I love the jazzy sound and the incorporation of Miryo's rap, because this is the type of song that I wouldn't expect to have a rap.  However, it fitted in perfectly with the song.

"LOVE" is a lighthearted and fun song.  The song is a mix of pop and R&B. It's like a crossroad in their changing of genres; it still posses the R&B sound, but it also has a lighter synthetic pop beat. The MV is nice, simple, and really lets their charismatic personalities shine through. This song is ridiculously catchy and I have had this song stuck in my head after only a few listens.

"Abracadabra" is an electro-pop song that has become one of the iconic songs of k-pop. I wasn't too fond of the song at first, but it eventually grew on me. This is a very different sound for B.E.G., as they had shed their previous image and sound completely.

"Sixth Sense" is undoubtedly the strongest and most powerful B.E.G. song.  Everything about this song gives off a sense of strength. The girl's vocals and especially the high notes at the end gives me goosebumps every time I listen.

Personal Thoughts:
B.E.G. has always been one of my favorite girl groups and perhaps my first K-pop girl group that I had fallen in love with. In K-pop, there are countless girl groups and new ones that debut every year, but despite the rough competition, B.E.G. manages to stand out like a shining diamond. B.E.G. is not a mainstream K-pop group for all the right reasons. Being older than many of the teen idols today, they're able to break the normal idol image. The girls provide a different, more mature sound and look to K-pop. They also go above and beyond with their involvement in music by constantly exploring and experimenting with different genres, and their solid vocals and performance skills is just the cherry on top of an amazing band. What makes me really respect and love B.E.G. is their passion for music and modest personalities. Their live performances are bursting with charisma and energy. Just one look and its easy to tell that they are truly passionate about their music.

Song Review: Ailee's "I Will Show You"

After captivating everyone with her voice at the beginning of the year, rookie soloist Ailee is finally back with her new single "I Will Show You".  So how does it compare to her debut single and smash hit "Heaven"?

"I Will Show You" carries a nice musical composition.  It goes from a slower, more mysterious beat to a faster, dance beat which works well.  Not surprisingly, Ailee once again captivates with her voice and vocal range.  She goes from singing at a more lower and gentle register during the verses to showing off her voice in the chorus.   Purely musically and vocally, the song is great.

Unfortunately,  the lyrics and message of the song are a huge turn off.  In short, the song is basically saying a guy left his girlfriend, and she'll "show him" by presenting a more "beautiful" her, summed up in the lines "I will show you a completed changed me, I will show you a way prettier me". Much of the lyrics are superficial, including "I will meet a hotter guy and I will show you for sure, A me who is happier than you" and "With my high heels and short skirt, everyone turns to look at me".

The music video helps to lessen the superficialness nature of the song.  At the end, there is a shot of Ailee is shown embracing with her ex-boyfriend, who has just come back to her, with a mischievous smile on her face suggesting revenge.  This hints that she used the sexy facade to lure her ex back in then break his heart the way he broke hers.  While the end of the video makes the song better, the lyrics itself fail to show this and seem to be falsely saying that to feel better and attract guys, you need to make yourself sexy.

Ailee is undoubtedly an immensely talented singer, and if I had no idea what the song was about, I'd love it.  The composition of it is superb.  However, I just can't get over the lyrics and message of the song.  I still love Ailee's voice though, and will be checking out her album "Invitation".

Miss A's "Independent Women Pt. III" Album Review

After the success of "Touch" earlier this year, the girls of Miss A are back with a new concept and image while still staying true to their style and selves.  This comeback has offered them the opportunity to expand on their strengths, making them better than ever.

"Independent Woman III" is a homage to the R&B girl groups of the late 90s to early 2000s, specifically Destiny's Child.  As a result, the album is influenced with light R&B elements, allowing the girls to display their voices.  While the choice to pinpoint Destiny's Child as the inspiration was not necessary, there was definitely no better girl group than Miss A to pull off the feminine yet strong, independent, and empowering image.

A more in depth look...

The album opens with the first plug "I Don't Need a Man", an upbeat song tinged with hip hop about how women can be independent and lead their own lives happily without a man.  The song is phenomenal with its positive message and lyrics and fun sound.  The lyrics don't just promote feminism and boast about how women don't need a man.  They're saying they're capable of driving themselves in life while being perfectly happy, and don't need to lean on their families for financial support either.  The song is very catchy, especially the chorus.  Min can also be heard rapping along with Jia too!  She once said in an interview that she can not rap, but it looks like she's proved herself wrong. It's nice to see Jia getting the opportunity to sing instead of judt rap more, and her distinctive voice fit the energy of the song well. As always, Fei sounded great, but underused.

The MV is K-Pop music videos at its visual best: fun and colorful, but not too over the top or random and doesn't take away from the song. All the girls looked amazing. Their outfits during the dance sequences were simple but stylish, and the styles each girl had for the MV were very fitting. The choreography doesn't look advanced but still a lot of fun, and the girls executed it well with a lot of energy and personality. "I Don't Need a Man" is arguably their best single yet.

The next track "Ma Style" combines light hip hop with R&B. The beat and music of the song is unique and fun. The song sounds sweet yet slightly funky. An upbeat and catchy song that sounds a bit different from the usual K-Pop.

After is "If I Were a Boy", which Miss A have been performing as the opening song in their music stages. It is a midtempo and soulful song with a melancholic feel that shows the girl's lovely and strong vocals. This is definitely a highlight of the album. However, it would've been better to name the song "If I'm Over You" to avoid further comparisons with Beyonce.

"Madness" featuring Taecyeon of 2PM can be said to be the ballad of the album and also has the heaviest R&B influence. Going along with the album's concept, Miss A sounds most like a soul girl group here. The song has a smooth, serene, yet mysterious feel that makes it such a pleasure to listen to. Out of all the songs, this shows the girl's voices most. They all sound so smooth and soulful. Fei also gets the rare opportunity to let her voice shine here and steals the show.

The closing track is "Time's Up". The song is an electropop dance song that's very infectious and catchy. It is the only song with no R&B or hip hop influence and is a very upbeat dance song coming after two slower soulful songs in a row. As a result, it does sound a bit out of place, but doesn't ruin the consistency of the album too much and closes the album on a high and fun note.


Miss A continues to be the most consistent girl group, having tried different styles and images but consistently releasing good material while remaining the feminine yet strong and independent girls they are.  They aren't forced to be overly girly or more mature than they are.  Their sound is always fresh, fun, and polished.  With their empowering image, they are definitely going far and will emerge on top.  "Independent Women Pt. III" is a homage to past girl groups, but they still make the material their own while pulling off the concept seamlessly.  Each song is superb and a great listen.  This is their best work yet.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dear Jane x Shiga Lin LOL Concert

On September 28th, HK fans of Dear Jane and Shiga Lin had the joy of attending the two Warner artist's joint concert, cleverly titled "LOL", or "Love Out Loud".  Instead of treating it as a formal concert, Dear Jane and Shiga made it more like a party and big fan gathering, making the event even more fun and enjoyable.  Besides for singing their own songs, Dear Jane and Shiga kept things fresh by covering some of each other's songs.  If you didn't have the privilege of seeing them in concert, or just want to relive it, a lot of great fan cams have been uploaded onto YouTube!

A short overview of the LOL concert uploaded by WarnerHK:


Dear Jane's Tim and Shiga sang Shiga's popular English song "I'm Still Loving You" as a duet, and Shiga sang Dear Jane's #1 hit "別說話/Do Not Speak".  The duet version with the two sounded very nice, and Shiga not only brought justice to "Do Not Speak", but sounded absolutely beautiful and sweet.

"放大假/ Long Vacation" (Embedding is not enabled).  Dear Jane and Shiga perform the punk rock anthem from Dear Jane's debut album together.  They don't perform this song live often, and it's one of my personal favorites, so this was a treat to watch.

The finale of the LOL concert, where Dear Jane and Shiga were joined by singer friends Ella Koon and Jason Chan.  Fitting with the laid back party feel of the concert, they closed the concert by singing a medley of various popular songs, including "We Will Rock You", "21 Guns", "Call Me Maybe", "Last Friday Night", "Firework", "Baby", and more.  A fantastic and fun finale where everyone looked like they were having a blast!  So many cute interactions and moments on stage.  Notable things include how Tim and Shiga jump around a LOT while singing, Ella playing electric guitar alongside Howie, and Tim dancing to "Party Rock Anthem" and "Gangnam Style".  They closed the number with a performance of their duet "Love Out Loud".

The audience weren't ready to say goodbye to Dear Jane and Shiga even after the memorable finale, which resulted in two more encore songs:

Dear Jane sang their rock cover of "到此為止/The End", which carries a different feel, but has the same emotion.  Shiga sang her cover of "Yellow Fever", which has an electronic dance club feel.  During the dubstep breakdown, Tim starts doing the dance to Gangnam Style (for the second time)!

Of course, there were a lot more great performances from the night, but I don't want this post to get long.  For more fan cams from the concert, visit chaupakhobackup's and dearjane4eva's channel!

Comments: I was hesitant and doubtful of how a concert with two such different artists would work out, but was pleasantly surprised.  The concert was a hit, with good fan turn out, positive reception, and a whole lot of enthusiasm, both from the audience and the musical acts themselves.  Both Dear Jane and Shiga Lin were a joy to watch alone and even more so together with their talent, onstage presence, and real life friendship.  My only wish was that they had performed more covers of each other's songs.  I was hoping to hear Dear Jane sing "好好過/Movin' On" and Shiga sing "Goodbye".  The concert was still fantastic, and made me like Dear Jane and Shiga even more!

Support Dear Jane and Shiga Lin!
If you live in Hong Kong, buy their "Love Out Loud" EP on iTunes, which includes studio versions of Shiga's cover of "Yellow Fever", Dear Jane's cover of "The End", and their duet "Love Out Loud"!

Song Review: Eric Suen's "療Dry/Therapy Dry"

After a year of focusing on acting, Eric Suen finally returns to the Cantopop scene with his upcoming album "A Second Thought", which will be released on October 19th.  In contrast to the first single off the album "給我一秒說愛你/Give Me a Second to Say I Love You", "療Dry/Therapy Dry" is an upbeat track.

"Therapy Dry" is easily the most creative song in Cantopop this year.  It's a ridiculously fun and catchy song with a funky and unique beat.  The lyrics and message of the song are whimsical and clever.  Acting like a social commentary of the working class, the song talks about the dryness of the everyday working life, something I'm sure everyone can relate to somehow.  Eric wrote and produced the song, showing how his creativity and talent has only continued to blossom.

The MV makes the song an even more enjoyable listen.  Eric looks adorable, youthful, and even a bit silly with his sunglasses, style, facial expressions and moves.  I love how he seems aware of his silliness, but doesn't mind and isn't afraid to embrace it and loosen up.  The animation of the MV illustrates and adds to the whimsical feel of the song and lyrics.  Such a cute and fun MV!

From the lyrics, to the musical style, to the MV, in a realm of mostly "dry" mainstream Cantopop music, "Therapy Dry" is the most creative single of the year.  It's refreshing, whimsical, and fun yet incorporates such an easy to relate to meaning.  With great material like this, my respect and love for Eric as an artist continues to grow and he remains one of my favorites.  I can't wait to see what his latest album has in store!