Thursday, January 9, 2014

Album Review: Fiona Sit's "Tenacious"

After ten years in the music industry, Fiona Sit ended 2013 with a bang with her eleventh studio album "Tenacious," her best work yet and a cohesive representation of her maturation into a dominating HK pop princess.

The album opens with "Contagious," which makes use of club beats and dub step influences, which results in an infectious and catchy dance song. Fiona's vocal delivery is cheeky and fun and not ruined by excessive uses of auto tune like Cantopop dance songs typically like to do. It is definitely one of the better dance songs I have heard and a great way to start the album.

"Weekend Pictorial/周末畫報" is one of the best songs of 2013, and easily the best upbeat one. Cantopop songs usually tend to be slow ballads, auto tune doused club songs, or mid tempo, but "Weeknd Pictorial" is simply a fun, catchy, and refreshing pop song that will have you bobbing your head and snapping your fingers to the beat. It is genuinely a fresh breath of air.

"Tenacious" then takes a slower turn with "Zhu Ge Liang/諸葛亮." The song possesses a very romantic yet sorrowful feel, established by Fiona's gentle and emotion-filled vocals. What sets the single apart though is its lovely musical composition, which has a slight blues influence that perfectly brings out the bittersweetness of the lyrics and vocals.

"A Little Clingy/小小癡纏" brings out the youthful and effortlessly cute side of Fiona and is honestly just a sweet, simple, and good hearted song that makes you smile without being too cheesy.

Things become more laid back with the airy "Art Waits/等待的藝術." It is not one of the album's stand outs, but nevertheless an enjoyable track.

"I Say Goodbye/告別我", composed by Fiona's close friend and musical talent Khalil Fong, is a beautiful ballad reminiscent of 90s Cantopop. The composition of the song is simply gorgeous and everything blends together perfectly, which should come as no surprise given the person behind it. Fiona's vocals shine here with her heartfelt yet slightly restrained delivery. The song truly shows Fiona's maturation and sophistication, and the MV is tasteful.

The album makes a miss with "F.Night", which is made tacky with Fiona's narration through out the song. The song seems to try to be a little mysterious and dream-like, but the effort for the most part falls short.

Meanwhile, the hidden gem on the album is Mandarin track "Recovery/復原", which did not do as well on charts as the other singles. Fiona wrote the lyrics for the song following the death of her beloved cat, who helped her get through her previous depression. I have mixed feelings for the English introduction, which gives off the impression that the song's tone is very dramatic and solemn when it is light and bittersweet, but the rest is in a word, lovely. Mandarin was very appropriate for the song. The light R&B beats and her vocals matched together beautifully with the melody. She looks absolutely gorgeous in the MV, which makes use of simplistic but artsy shots and dark lighting.

The album closes with "Palace Ruo Mei/宮若梅," a song dedicated to the character Gong Er in the film "The Grandmaster." The song boosts a much more powerful feel with an obvious rock influence. While Fiona delivers much of the album in a gentle and restrained register, she allows herself to belt more here without losing control of her vocals, as if to say she is finally letting loose, which is a very appropriate way to end the album.

Overall, "Tenacious" finds a balance between two sounds and images: the youthful, bubbly, and endearing Fiona and the matured, sophisticated, and more artistic Fiona in the slower songs and ballads.  All the singles released from the album are wonderfully produced and sung, and the only weakness on it is "F.Night." After vastly improving her vocals and music sound in 2012, Fiona successfully finished 2013 as a force to be reckoned with and the new HK pop princess.

Regardless of if you are a fan of Fiona, you have to acknowledge the very far way she has come since her debut and the consistency in the music she has released in the last 2 years. Do give "Tenacious" a listen, even if it is just for the singles, whether you are a Fiona fan or want a reminder that there is still good music being put out in Hong Kong.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Song Review: Dear Jane's "不許你注定一人/Never Be Alone"

Dear Jane only released two singles in 2013, but closed the year off solid with "Never Be Alone", easily their best ballad yet.

The song showcases all that is great about Dear Jane: meaningful lyrics, strong vocals, and great composition and production. One of the things I love most about the band is the passion, honesty, and emotion they put into their music, and it shows more than ever here. "Never Be Alone" is a beautiful and uplifting song that tells people that though they may lose a loved one, they will never truly be alone in the world. Tim's vocal delivery is powerful and portrays so much emotion as always. The guitar solo that closes the song makes it feel even more empowering and inspiring and though the song may put you on an emotional ride, it will put a smile on your face by the end.

However, the song is made even better with the MV. It is hands down the most well done MV from Dear Jane yet as it tells a story and amplifies the strengths and emotions of the song without taking away from it. The storyline is simple but touching and makes the song come to life. I also love how the story starts from the present before showing flashbacks, and then finally returning to the present once again. From the waterfall back drop, to the black and white, and all the guys looking handsome and dressed up, the shots of the band were also perfect and added to the melancholic feel.

Dear Jane has outdone themselves with "Never Be Alone." It is an all around phenomenal, touching, and well done song coupled with a memorable music video, and the one that left the most impact on me in 2013.

The band took a break from their usual pop punk sound by releasing two ballads in 2013, so I'm looking forward to hearing their upcoming music, which is supposed to be a return to their punk roots. May 2014 be an even better year for Dear Jane!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

AE Experience's 2 Year Anniversary!

Iris: Happy 2 year anniversary to AE Experience! Goodness, I can’t believe it’s been yet another year. While 2013 wasn’t as nearly of a fruitful and filled year of updates for AEE as 2012, I think I speak for both Niki and I that this site is still something that means a lot to us and what brought us closer together through our mutual interests. Last year was a crazy and busy year for the both of us, and with our graduation approaching, this year is no different. However, I hope to keep this site running for more years to come, even if the updates aren’t too frequent. We may have failed at being the one stop Asian entertainment site we originally intended to be, but will continue to use it as a platform to express our thoughts and creativity.

Niki: AE Experience is another year older! Honestly these past two years has gone by so fast I can hardly believe that it has been two years since we started this blog. Like Iris said it’s sad that we haven’t been able to post as much in the past year, but we don’t intend on giving up any time soon. It is still our baby and we will continue to invest in it. I want to thank our guest writers who has been helping us with updates, without them 2013 would have been even more uneventful. Hopefully after our graduation we will have more time to spend on the blog.

Iris: It’s rather embarrassing to say, but our previous layout that was made in celebration of AEE’s first year anniversary, was up for exactly a year. After having several collage banners already, Niki and I decided to go a different route this time and use a single picture. I really loved the slightly artsy shots of Fiona in her “Restoration” MV, so I took several screencaps and ultimately decided on this one. Hope this is a nice change!