Friday, January 8, 2016

AE Experience's 2015 Playlist: The Best of Cantopop, Mandopop, and K-pop

We are back with our playlist of favorites for 2015!

*Please note that this list reflects our favorites from the music we listened to this year (and we sadly have even less time to keep up with music now), and does not take into consideration all material released in 2015.

This post will be updated with Niki's picks for Taiwanese music/Mandopop and K-pop.

Iris' Top 10 Picks in HK Music/Cantopop:

#10: Mr. - 雙面人 (Double Faced Person)

It was nice to hear another angsty song from Mr. the beginning of the year. I like that the song has a more dark and mysterious feel to it, and the music video further brings it out. My favorite part though are the verses, and how Alan’s voice goes deeper as he transitions into the chorus.

#9: Jude Tsang - 格拉斯哥流浪 (Glasgow Rangers)

Jude is truly a newcomer to look out for and as a talented singer-songwriter involved in her own music, she is just what HK’s music industry needs more of. The pop rock style of this song is right up my alley with just enough edge and spunk.

#8: Robynn & Kendy - 想怎樣 (Think How) (Featuring Rocky Chan and Tang Siu Hau)

This collaboration between Robynn, Kendy, Rocky Chan, and Tang Siu Hau is dynamic with their four voices and very uplifting to listen to. It’s a feel-good and fun song full of energy that has some great vocals that work well together.

#7: Pakho Chau - 小白 (Little White)

Pakho continued his pattern of releasing two albums/EP’s a year while juggling his acting career (I seriously don’t know how he does it), but it was this song he released from the very beginning of the year that remains my favorite. The subject matter of the song is different from others as it is about the loss of a pet. Pakho’s vocals are solemn and heartfelt, making it a touching song. The MV is also quite whimsical and creative. The ending with his “Oh’s” allows the song to come to a satisfying and bittersweet end.

#6: G.E.M. 於是 (Therefore)

G.E.M.’s comeback album “Heartbeat” consisted of many great songs, but “Therefore” in my opinion does the best job of balancing both Western and Hong Kong music influences (“Goodbye” and “Away” sound like American pop songs sung in Mandarin). It is full of passion and emotions despite being an upbeat electronic/dance-influenced song. It gets a few points off for the not quite necessary and slightly awkward English rap, but it is one of the best electronic pop songs I’ve heard from an HK artist. The MV gives a simple yet artistic representation of the song.

#5: Jude Tsang - 密室謀殺事件 (Chamber of Secrets Murder)

She may be a rookie, but Jude has seriously gotten my attention from just her first two singles. Female HK singers overall tend to be much less experimental and adhere to a more mainstream pop sound, so it’s great to see that Jude is capable of pulling off different styles. With her passion and involvement in her own music and more edgy sound, Jude reminds me of a female version of her labelmate Pakho. It seems Pakho and Warner has noticed too, as Jude and Pakho released a mash up music video. The song is eerie and dark with a more grunge sound. I love the arrangement of the music and how it incorporates various sounds. Coupled with Jude’s vocals, the song sounds mesmerizing and a little haunting.

#4: Khalil Fong - 聽 (Listen)

It may very well be physically impossible to stay still while listening to this song. Whether you mean to or not, you’ll probably find yourself bobbing your head or tapping your foot along. Khalil just keeps getting better and “Listen” finds the talented artist at a musical sweet spot. The production on this song is top notch, pleasing to the ears, and hopelessly catchy.

#3: Supper Moment - 幸福之歌 (Happy Song)

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a male singer in Hong Kong with vocals that are more heartfelt and full of depth than Supper Moment’s lead singer, Sunny. The song is uplifting and moving and Sunny’s vocals bring so much compassion into the lovely and soothing melody. This is a ballad full of substance and hope without being the least bit boring.

#2: Juno Mak and Kay Tse - 羅生門 (Rashomon)

The title “Rashomon” refers to the contradictory interpretations of the same event by different people. In this case, the song is about a man loving a woman for 10 years, but realizing she wasn’t who he thought she was. Kay sounds lovely as always, and her and Juno’s voices blend well towards the end. I don’t listen to a lot of duets so this was a wonderful surprise, and I enjoyed that the song felt like an emotional and bittersweet confrontation between two people. Juno has come a very long way from the rough and turbulent beginnings of his career and become a respectable and talented even if not well-known artist in the HK music industry.

#1: Dear Jane - 咖啡因眼淚 (Caffeine Tears)

In the last few years, Dear Jane has either released catchy and simple upbeat songs such as “Yellow Fever” or heartfelt ballads such as “Never Be Alone,” but they strike a perfect balance with “Caffeine Tears.” The song shows off the band’s pop punk sound while being a meaningful song about living life with no regrets. From the edgy verses to the slowed bridge and powerful guitar solo, “Caffeine Tears” is an exciting and thematic ride that proves upbeat songs don’t always have to be simple and repetitive, and songs with meaning don’t always have to be ballads. It quickly became my new favorite song from Dear Jane when it was first released, and it remains my favorite song of the 2014.

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