Monday, January 28, 2013

AEE HK Music Awards

Cantopop has long lost its level of prestige with the dozens of different award shows that give out countless awards. It starts to become hard to tell which awards are really an "honor" and which are just pork chop awards. At the same time, still so many artists and songs go unrecognized. The same people win every year (Joey, Eason, I don't doubt you're very talented, but someone else deserves to win!) until it loses it's meaning. The year of 2012 was quite a great year for Cantopop, and the first ever AEE HK Music Awards hopes to recognize the people who may have not gotten the attention or accolades they deserve without giving out so many awards their meaning is lost.

Song Awards

Top 10 Songs of the Year

#10 - "The End/到此為止" by Shiga Lin
Ballads are nothing unfamiliar to the world of Cantopop, and although "The End" is nothing groundbreaking, it's still a beautifully composed and sung song. Shiga's vocals are gorgeous and full of heartbreaking emotion. The song is very personal and full of meaning, as it signified Shiga acknowledging, learning from, and moving on from a damaging scandal that hit her early last year. She deserves all the accolades she's received for this song, and does not go unnoticed here either.

#9 - "BB88" by Khalil Fong
Upbeat songs are not too common (and quite often they're not good either) in the HK music industry. Khalil released the most upbeat single of his career with "BB88", a pleasant surprise because it stays with his signature R&B sound, while also very creative, catchy, and fun!

#8 - "Drenched" by Wanting Qu
Although written in English by a China-based artist, "Drenched" became a huge hit following being used in the HK movie "Love in a Buff". The song is magical and absolutely beautiful with Wanting's deep and soulful vocals and the moving musical composition, so it just can not go unrecognized here!

#7 - "Cold Joke/冷笑話" by Fiona Sit
After a year of consistently releasing great singles, Fiona capped off the year with "Cold Joke", her most mature and best work yet. The song, from the lovely musical composition to her vocals, is full of so much emotion that you know it is very special to Fiona. There is feeling in every breath. The song is delivered with so much grace.

#6 - "Frail/孱弱" by Kelvin Kwan
Kelvin found his niche sound this year in alternative/rock influenced songs, and "Frail" is the cherry on top of a great year of experimenting with the new musical style. The song is gripping, slightly gritty, and full of angst, not something many Cantopop singers can pull off. It allows him to showcase his vocal abilities while keeping it fresh and original instead of the typical love ballad.

#5 - "So Dry/疗Dry" by Eric Suen
Eric finally returned with a new album again and completely took us by surprise with "So Dry". It's unlike anything he's ever written before. It's catchy, upbeat, but also creative, whimsical, with a message that's easy to relate to. Rarely is an upbeat Cantonese song that good! "So Dry" is the new working people's theme song.

#4 - "Death Row/斬立決" by Pakho Chau
Perhaps no other song leaves as much of an emotional impact following listening as "Death Row", as it honestly does leave you in a state of sadness. The song touches on the issue of cyber bullying and depicts the horrors through its well-written lyrics, a haunting melody, strong vocals by Pakho, and evokes so much emotion.

#3 - "Goodbye" by Dear Jane
After a year of sweeping up awards for "Yellow Fever", "Goodbye" is still a little shining gem that went mostly unnoticed and undecorated by awards. It is a phenomenal song that is heartfelt, moving, powerful, serene, wonderfully produced and polished. Tim sounds his best vocally with his gentle yet powerful delivery, and the instruments come together beautifully.

#2 - "Yesterday/昨天" by Mr.
Mr.'s "Yesterday" is hands down the best rock ballad of the year. It is a beautifully and wonderfully arranged. At a long length of 5:15, the song does not drag on, but continues to deliver to the very end and leaves an impact. The song is powerful, thoughtful, and meaningful. Alan's vocals anchor the song, and the instruments shine, particularly during the guitar solo.

#1 - "Non-Vegetation/人非草木" by Kary Ng
Taking the top song honor is Kary with "Non-Vegetation". The composition and arrangement of the song (which consists of both piano and strings) coupled with Kary's soft but strong vocals is breathtaking and enchanting. Both a bit of sadness and sweetness is evoked. The song says that humans are not like vegetables and meant for living, which is exactly what Kary has been doing: living the life. "Non-Vegetation" is the best song of the year, and Kary's best yet.

Songs that narrowly missed getting placed or ultimately removed included G.E.M.'s "Someday I'll Fly" (meaningful, but in the end sounded generic), Raymond Lam's "Because of You" (lovely, but not outstanding), and Eason Chan's "Heavy Taste" (unique and catchy, but already heavily awarded).  I also really wanted to include Kary's "Ferociously", Fiona's "Better Me", and Pakho's "Irreversible", but excluded them as I didn't want to include more than one song from an artist.


Best Ballad: "The End/到此為止" by Shiga Lin
The most beautifully composed and sung ballad of the year with a story behind it. Although ballads are vastly overdone in Cantopop, Shiga breathes a breath of fresh air into the type of song.

Best Dance Song: "Ferociously/狠狠" by Kary Ng
Dance songs in Cantopop are often poorly done, full of autotune, or just not catchy. Kary's "Ferociously" is catchy, funky, refreshing, with great choreography.

Best Rock Song: "Yellow Fever" by Dear Jane
Rock has found its way back into the mainstream Cantopop industry, a feat worth celebrating. Dear Jans's "Yellow Fever" is a catchy, infectious rock song with a great hook and intertwines dub step well.

Best Duet: "Lone Ranger Companion/獨行俠侶" by William So and Kay Tse
A great collaboration between William and Kay. The song has a lovely melody and the two talented artist's voices blend together and compliment each other very well, making it a more memorable duet.

Music Video Awards

Best Music Video: "Confessions/告白" by Kary Ng
The best music videos don't take away from the song, but compliment it and make it even better. In Kary's first attempt at directing, the MV of "Confessions" acts out the story and message in the lyrics. It depicts the emotional despair of a person who cheated in a relationship, and the one cheated on. The different shots and settings used done and chosen well. Everything from the shots of Kary resting her head on her boyfriend by the sea, to the ones of them hanging out happily in the past, to her singing as her dress flows with the wind are fantastic. The entire video does a spectacular job of boosting the emotion of the song.

Honorable mentions include Kelvin's "People of My Generation" for it's concept, Pakho's "Death Row" for it's art direction, and Eric's "So Dry" for it's creative use of animations. In general, I saw quite a few great music videos this year.

Album Awards

Album of the Year: "My January" by Kary Ng
"My January" went largely unrecognized by awards and deserves a lot more love.  "My January" is a collection of Kary's personal stories of love and life that flows smoothly from track to track until the very end.  It shows her maturation into a fine and talented young lady with songs that show her talent, feeling, and grace.

2nd Place: "Back to Wonderland" by Khalil Fong
Khalil returned to the funkier and retro sound and concept of his popular 2007 album "Wonderland", and it worked.  There's still the same R&B/soul style we know him for, but with a more upbeat and funky twist.  It's an album brighter and quicker in pace than his past works, and one that will have you swaying your head to the music.

3rd Place: "Self-Portrait" by Raymond Lam
Raymond genuinely surprised me with "Self-Portrait", a mature and creative piece of work that exhibited many different musical styles that all worked well with him.  Raymond may be known as more of an idol and not taken very seriously as a singer, but many overlook the fact that "Self-Portrait" is still a fantastic album and his best one yet.

Artist Awards

Most Promising Artist: Shiga Lin
Shiga showed potential as a newcomer, and over the last year has polished up her vocals to the point she's now one of the most beautiful and controlled young voices in HK. She did well with ballads such as "The End" and "Movin' On", and also the midtempo and inspiring "Run". She proved she is also strong and capable of overcoming hardship, which shows she can last a long time in this cutthroat industry. She breathes fresh air into the HK music industry, which is in need of youthful talent like her, so expect to see a lot more of her.

Most Improved Artist: TIE, Fiona Sit and Kelvin Kwan
Fiona first debuted back in 2004 as a singer with potential, but her vocals weren't always too reliable and she had trouble gaining success.  Yet, her voice and control has improved heaps and bounds over the years and she found lots of momentum in 2012 and exerted many different musical styles in her album "Filicious".  All the singles released were hits, and she was able to hold her own concert at the HK Coliseum for the first time.  She too, is steadily becoming a young lady worthy of respect as an artist and will soon emerge as one of the best.

It has been an exciting and impressive year for Kelvin.  He made a comeback to the industry last year, but successfully shed his image and past this year.  He's no longer someone to be associated with his scandal back in 2009, but as the man and talented young artist he is today.  His "Occupation" EP showed he is capable of many musical styles and found a niche in a more gritty and rock influenced type of music.  He has involved himself in the creative process of his music and tried his hand at directing one of his music videos.  This may not have been expected, but Kelvin has vastly improved and is quickly becoming one of the most talented and worth noticing young singers in Hong Kong.

The best singer/band awards are the top honors of the AEE HK Music Awards.  They're judged by the performances of the artists this year, which include the quality of material they've released and the success they achieved, as opposed to just whose the most popular.

Best Band: Dear Jane
Dear Jane was the rising band of 2012 as they achieved great critical and commercial success, sweeping up countless awards for "Yellow Fever", putting them on the map.  They're helping bring rock to the mainstream Cantopop with their more unique punk influences and honest and passionate music.  It's been great seeing them see reach new heights this year, and it's only expected that 2013 be an even better year for them.

Best Female Singer: Kary Ng
Winning the top song award, best dance song, best music video, and best album, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise as Kary grabs the top honor of Best Female Singer.  It's truly been a fantastic year for her and it showed the completion of her transformation into a young woman and musical artist.  She's became one of the shining stars of the Cantopop industry, since she has both years of experience and youth (she is only 26 years old but has been in the industry since around 15).  Mark my words, she is going to become the next pop diva.  Move over Joey Yung!

Best Male Singer: Kelvin Kwan
This may come as a surprise to some people and met with mixed response, but it's been an exciting and impressive year for Kelvin.  He made a comeback to the industry last year, but successfully shed his image and past this year.  He's no longer someone to be associated with his scandal back in 2009, but as the man and talented young artist he is today.  His "Occupation" EP showed he is capable of many musical styles and as mentioned above, found a niche in a more gritty and rock influenced type of music.  He has involved himself in the creative process of his music and tried his hand at directing one of his music videos.  This may not have been expected, but Kelvin is quickly becoming one of the most talented and worth noticing young singers in Hong Kong. ***Update 11/2/13**** I had intended to update this a LONG time ago, but happened, so I never got the chance. This comes awfully late, but I thought it was worth changing before the next awards comes around.

Best Male Singer: Pakho Chau
After I had originally posted this, I had listened to Pakho's music more in-depth and was blown away by the material he released in 2012, as well as all he had accomplished. Pakho has gone from a fresh-faced idol in his early days to an accomplished singer, songwriter, composer, and occasionally music video director (he directed Shiga Lin's "Time for Love" MV). He has evolved into one of the most respectable and versatile young artists today, and is a force to be reckoned with. The singles he released this year were all among the best of 2012.  "Death Row", "Imperfect","無力挽回/Irreversible", and "只有一事不成全你/There's Only 
One Thing I Won't Help You With" were all phenomenal singles that showed his talent, passion, artistic touch, 
and maturity. Pakho topped off his strongest year yet with his much anticipated first HK Coliseum concert as 
well as a compilation album, both titled "Imperfect." He has truly come far and secured himself as a staple of 
the Cantopop music industry. With Pakho, there is hope for continuous fresh and high quality Cantonese music 
as he continues to take the industry by storm.

This wraps up the first AEE HK Music Awards!  The results may look much different than the existing award shows, but my goal was to recognize those who usually do not receive the awards I think they deserve.  What do you think was the best of 2012?  Comment with your thoughts!

Monday, January 7, 2013

AE Experience's 1 Year Anniversary! (Message + New Layout)

It's been 1 year since Asian Entertainment Experience first hit the web!  Time flies, and after over 100 posts it is now a year old.   It's been this website's goal to offer as much of a variety of content as possible, ranging from music reviews, drama reviews, fan fiction, and other types of posts.  Overall, we think we've been doing a decent job fulfilling our goal and in the process built AE Experience as a blog unlike any other in the Asian entertainment blogosphere.  Time constraints and other factors keep us from reaching our fullest potential, but all in all, it's been a joy running the site and we look forward to continuing to do so.  Ideally, we hope for AE Experience to continue to be very much alive while offering quality posts, and for a long time to come.

Iris: It's been very lovely and rewarding to run this site.  Over the last year, it has allowed me to rekindle my interest and passion in writing and music, two things that are now an even more important part of my life.  Also, it's helped me grow even closer to Niki and make us the closest friends ever.  Although Niki does not have as much time and does not blog much, she is still very much a part of AE Experience and the best partner I could ask for.  I love running and writing for this blog and I only expect for it to become even bigger and better! Thank you everyone for reading and supporting!

Niki: This blog had been such a fun and new experience for me. I've thoroughly enjoyed writing the posts and feel really bad that I haven't written as much (or as often) as I should. Setting up this blog is probably one of my proudest achievements, and I'm really glad I can share it with one of my best friends. Iris has been so helpful and has been the best partner I could ever ask for, without her I'm sure this blog won't be half as interesting as it is. It's been a great first year for AE Experience and I hope we can celebrate many more great years to come. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read our posts and supported us this past year, it means a great deal to us!

The new layout!

For our first anniversary banner, we featured Dear Jane, Shiga Lin, Kelvin Kwan, and Kary Ng. There were many outstanding Cantopop artists this year, but in our opinion these four stood out and had very successful years with great performances. Dear Jane rose in popularity through commercial and critical success with "Yellow Fever". Kelvin and Shiga both suffered from scandals but proved their worth and talent were heavier than the weight of their scandals. Kelvin returned again this year with a more mature image and sound while Shiga continued to capture people's hearts with her beautiful voice and her ballad "The End". Lastly, Kary has been gaining even more success with "My January", which included hits "Confessions" and "Ferociously". She continues to move up the ranks and emerging as a top diva.

The banner and layout has a light green color scheme for a fresh spring look (even though it's still winter). It's a break from our usual blue and purple dominated looks. This time, the banner and layout were designed and altered by me (Iris).

Hope everyone has enjoyed reading this blog as much as we have writing it and continue to support AE Experience! Thanks again, and we love you!