Monday, June 30, 2014

Khalil Fong - Dangerous World Album Review

Khalil is back again after 2012's "Back to Wonderland" with "Dangerous World", a collection of jazz and R&B soul. The album contains both upbeat songs and slower ones, giving almost every listener something they will like. However, it is the upbeat songs on "Dangerous World" that makes the album memorable.

Niki: On a sillier note, his introduction track, "Welcome", left a very scarring impression on me. I first listened to this album out of order, so before the track came on I had been listening to a slow ballad and was feeling just a little bit sleepy. I lost interest for a minute and failed to notice that the track had ended and the next thing I heard was a deep demonic-like voice saying "Huan yin ni", freaking me out.

Iris: The album officially opens with lead single and title track "Dangerous World/危險世界" , a grand and cinematic-like single unlike anything he has released before and unlike anything you hear in C-Pop normally. It is an infectious and unique song you can't help but start moving to. The instrumental breakdown with the beats is fun and sounds particularly good with headphones or loud speakers, but runs about 2 minutes long.

Niki: This song is definitely a worthy title track, despite it's lengthy instrumental ending. Khalil's ability to create a mini-movie within a song with the infusion of different music genres and vocal techniques speaks to his creativity as an artist. It also displays how much he's grown over the last 10 years.

Niki: "Peace" is a funky R&B track that will get your head-bobbing. The collaboration with Tia Ray adds a new level of dynamic to the song. Although, it suffers the same weakness of being longer than necessary and becoming repetitive.

Iris: You can easily tell Khalil had a grand 'ol time recording "Peace" through the enthusiasm and energy he shows through his rapping. I'm pleased to be seeing Khalil making use of his rapping skills.

Iris: "Xiao Fong/小方" is easily my favorite song off the whole album and showcases Khalil's musical strengths such as smooth vocals, soulful style, and slick rapping skills. The whole song is catchy and unlike many of the other songs on the album, does not suffer from being too long.

Niki: Like Iris this song is easily my favorite song in the album. It's sleek, funky, and a complete representation of who Khalil is as an artist. What I like most about this song is the straightforward yet heartfelt lyrics and the fact that it differs from other artist's typical "thank you" songs (which are usually ballads or pop tracks). It's a track that is uniquely Khalil.

Iris: "Black White and Grey/黑白灰 " is another funky upbeat song that is uniquely Khalil while serving as his homage to his musical inspirations. The mix of jazz and R&B creates a very catchy product and the MV is memorable for being the first we saw Khalil dance in.

Niki: This song is a prime example of Khalil's ability to incorporate two different musical genre into something that's both amazing and unique. Every time I listen to this song I envision a chase sequence in a classic comedy and it invokes the same emotion of amusement. Needless to say Khalil's dance sequence in the mv was the highlight of my day when I first saw it.

Iris: "Love Blossoms/桃花運" and "Special Person/ 特別的人" both fail to stand out, and I find the former very boring and too slow. Is it relaxing? Yes, but more in a way that makes me want to fall asleep. "Special Person" fares better but still isn't a very interesting ballad.

Niki: "Love Blossoms" doesn't contain any hook to capture the listeners attention. Furthermore it sounds like Khalil's voice was muted by the music, since the music was very soft and consistent it easily makes a person feel sleepy. I liked "Special Person" a lot more than "Love Blossoms". In "Special Person" you can hear Khalil's voice better and there's a lot more flexibility in it. It also sounds like he's trying to tell a story through song, which makes it a lot more interesting to me. However, both ballads still fall short from his upbeat songs.

Iris: "Mr. Weather/天氣先生" possesses a tempo that is neither too slow or too upbeat, which is more similar to his past works. However, though an interesting blend of Mandarin and English, it fails to set itself apart from Khalil's older songs and can become quite repetitive.

Niki: Although it may not be Khalil's most outstanding work, it's still one of the better mid-tempo songs in the album, in my opinion. It possesses a simple but catchy melody that I find myself humming to from time to time and is calming without leaving me sleepy or bored.

Iris: After a short instrumental comes "Autumn Leaves/楓葉做的風鈴", a relaxing and mellow R&B song that is very Khalil-like composition. It has a serene and romantic feel so while it is not incredibly memorable, it is a smooth and enjoyable listen, and one of the better slow songs on "Dangerous World."

Niki: "Autumn Leaves" is the one ballad in this album that I like. It's soft and relaxing without boring me because there's more variety in the notes and fluctuations in the melody, unlike the other ballads.Listening to this song makes me envision a 1950s romantic movie which makes me feel happy inside.

Iris: "Paris/巴黎 " is initially catchy but quickly gets old, stretching over 4 minutes long. It would've worked better as a 2 and a half minute track. In terms of composition, this is definitely one of Khalil's weakest, as there is very little if any variety in notes and very repetitive. Things pick up though and we flow to the upbeat and fun "No Love", featuring Miss Ko. It is one of the more dynamic non-singles of the album and worth repeated listens.

Niki: After the "No Love/ 愛不來 Feat. Miss Ko葛仲珊 " we have Zombie, another pleasant surprise. The song has a very distinctive beat that matches the songs peculiar title and theme. Through the changes in tempo and fluctuations in notes within the song Khalil was able to paint a rather dynamic scenario in my head, making it all the more fun to listen to. He includes another surprise at the end of the song with the addition of an electric guitar infusing a rock element into the song, finishing it strong. This song may be one of the most dynamic and creative song of his in this album. The only shame is that it is not one of the title tracks. I would love to see the mv that would match this song.

Iris: "Zombie/僵屍 " is my favorite song after "Xiao Fong", but was unfortunately never released as a single. It is so dynamic and infectious it has a cinematic feel and Khalil at his creative best. I also love how when the song starts to fade out it tricks the listener into thinking it has ended, when it hasn't. The mix of R&B and rock elements was phenomenal.

The album closes with "Lights Up" ,another 4 minute song that would have benefitted from a cut. It is catchy and fun, but quickly becomes too repetitive. Two choruses could easily have been edited out. Nevertheless, it is still an enjoyable and feel-good track.

Conclusion: Khalil's album "Dangerous World" leaves us with some mixed feelings. While some tracks showcase his creativity and strength as a composer and artist, others sound strikingly similar to his past works and fails to leave any lasting impression. The album could also use some reorganizing as most of the slower songs are clumped together in the middle of the album making it seem draggy at times, especially after listening to a chain of up-beat songs in the beginning. However, while there were definitely some low points, songs like "Zombie", "Black, White, and Grey", and "Dangerous World" definitely make up for the disappointment by displaying Khalil's abilities at their best.

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