Saturday, November 3, 2012

Song Review: Pakho Chau's "Death Row/斬立決"

Pakho Chau impresses listeners while touching on their emotions and bringing their attention to an important social issue with his single "Death Row/斬立決".

"Death Row" is a commentary on one of today's most problematic social issues: bullying (more specifically, cyberbullying).  The lyrics compares and makes a metaphor out of a victim of bullying and someone on death row.  They're shunned from society, and not given the chance to "repent", even though they did nothing wrong.  The chorus paints the picture of an execution, and how people gather to watch the victim die, without shame and without making a move to stop it.  The lyrics paint heart breaking imagery and inform of the horrors of the effects of cyberbullying while the haunting melody leaves you feeling conflicted.  Pakho's deep voice allows the song to be sung with power and raw emotion.

The music video illustrates the metaphor used in the song.  Its concept is in a more artistic direction with simple expression.  The video is shot in black and white with a bleak setting.  Taking place in an empty room, Pakho is shown getting poisoned by an apple, and waking up to be on death row.  He is then executed (off camera and through angle shots) and lies in the arms of a masked and tattooed woman as flower petals fall around him.  There is a dominant use of unique and dark masks and other head pieces, which probably hint at more symbolism.  Also, there is an additional scene after the song ends where Pakho is shown eating the same apple, but this time is not poisoned by it, showing he has received a second chance to live his life.  The music video is executed very well.  Though simplistic and a bit frightening, it carries a lot of meaning.

Pakho Chau's "Death Row" is a fantastic song for all the reasons above.  Due to heavy content, it does also leave you feeling depressed and conflicted.  Overall, it is one of the year's best, with well written lyrics, a melody that sticks with you, raising awareness of one of the problems of society, and leaving a lasting impact even after the song has stopped playing.

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