[Album] Hebe Tian – To Hebe

To Hebe is the first solo album released by Hebe Tian. Although she was part of S.H.E for a good nine years before this album, she had only released a few solo songs here or there on OSTs beforehand. This album proved to be a major success as it ended up becoming one of the best selling of 2010 in Taiwan and two singles being huge hits in many Chinese-speaking countries.

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Released: September 3, 2010
1. Love?
2. To Hebe
3. Isolated Islands (離島)
4. Apartment with No Manager (沒有管理員的公寓)
5. I’m Sorry to Myself (我對不起我)
6. I Think I Will Not Love You (我想我不會愛你)
7. Loneliness Is Fine (寂寞寂寞就好)
8. You’re Too Mad (你太猖狂)
9. Super Mario (超級瑪麗)
10. For the Children (給小孩)
11. Love!

The album opens with Love?, which is a slow acoustic pop tune. Usually I’m not a big fan of these kinds of slower tunes, but there is something really beautiful about the melody here and it definitely brings some life to things. While it is only a minute and a half at the start, the full version actually appears right at the end. Love!, the complete version, adds a few more gentle instruments in to bring a fuller sound. It’s just as gorgeous in its full version and it’s easily one of the highlights of the album.

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The title track, To Hebe, is a light pop/rock tune. It starts off pretty gentle, but the guitar and percussion soon start to come in and the energy starts to go up. The chorus isn’t bad and at first, I didn’t find it particularly catchy, but it has grown on me a bit. It sort of reminds me of something that Michelle Branch might have done back in the early 00’s. Not as memorable, but still decent.

Isolated Islands starts off with a really rich and beautiful guitar before Hebe’s voice comes in. It has a Mediterranean vibe to it, which is a nice change. Although I’m not particularly invested in these kind of songs, I do quite like how fluid and airy the melody is and I like how Hebe’s voice sounds. It’s a really gentle treat and a good song that is out of usual style.

Apartment with No Manager is not something I would’ve expected with a title like that. However, it has a really great light-pop/acoustic sound that has some gentle country vibes to it. It actually reminds me of something Stefanie Sun would do and I love her songs, so this is a great listen. The melody isn’t quite as endearing as I want it to be, but there is some charm to the overall delivery of the song.

Finally on a darker side of things, we have the jazzier ballad, I’m Sorry to Myself. It focuses more on the piano and strings, specifically the cello, which is a really nice addition. It really gives the song a heaviness to it that is only helped by the haunting violins. The melody is quite beautiful as well and Hebe sounds great here. I especially love how the song gains a bit more energy by the end.

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I Think I Will Not Love You starts off in a bit of a cool way, but does sound a bit like some of the other tracks on here. Only when the percussion really comes in does it start to stand out and I love how it builds and builds into powerful pop/rock ballad. I like how that final chorus, things get even more intense. It’s a pretty dramatic song and something I haven’t really heard from Hebe before. Reminds me a bit more of Yoga Lin.

If there is one amazing tune on this album, it has to be the main single, Loneliness is Fine. It’s a bit more on the side of the typical Mandopop ballad, but brings in some other elements that were present in the other songs like its darker tone and rock undertones. I absolutely love this song. The chorus is so memorable and powerful and it lends itself well to both Hebe’s voice and the lyrics. That drop with the percussion really gives the chorus that punch it needs. Effortlessly great.

You’re Too Mad is an acoustic tune that really continues the melancholic feel of the entire album. It starts off quite beautifully and I love the touches of harmony here and there to help fill out the melody in the verses. The chorus is nice and reminds me a bit of something more from the 90’s in Mandopop.  It’s not bad, but gets a bit dull though. I wish the ending had a bit more energy to it.

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I usually don’t like lounge songs as much and while Super Mario isn’t a bad song, it just isn’t my cup of tea. It has a some nice points to it like the harmonies and cool electric guitar that sits under the melody, but the melody is just a bit too repetitive and doesn’t quite hit the spot. I feel like the song does get better by the second half, but it is probably the weakest song on here.

For the Children is a duet between Hebe and Yoga Lin, which is someone who would fit with the sounds on this album very well. It seems like these two would be a match and while the song starts out a bit boring, it really gets going by the second half. When that percussion kicks in, the song really blasts off and the two harmonize beautifully. It’s not the strongest song, but it is a nice duet.


Overall: This was a pretty strong debut album from Hebe and I’m glad she tried to branch out from the music that defined S.H.E. This album easily solidified her as a strong artist on her own and it shows here with the darker tones and stronger focus on the slower side of things. The album can get a bit much at times because every song is slow, but there are some really great tunes and the majority of the album is solid.

A-

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[Album] Rainie Yang – Meeting Love

Meeting Love is the second album released by Rainie Yang. The album proved to be another success for the young singer with many of the songs becoming hits.

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Released: March 19, 2006
1. Sweet Curse (甜心咒)
2. Cute (可愛)
3. Meeting Love (遇上愛)
4. On the Left (左邊)
5. Can’t Find It (找不到)
6. Celebration (慶祝)
7. Mustard Chocolate (芥末巧克力)
8. Sleeping Beauty’s Insomnia (失眠的睡美人)
9. Automatically (自然而然)
10. Oversensitive (過敏)

As with Rainie’s albums, this one opens with an upbeat tune, Sweet Curse. What I enjoy about this one is that it brings some disco influences, which wasn’t heard in her first album. I wasn’t expecting something this catchy to start things off, but I’m glad it does because it gives me some hope that this album will be stronger than her first. It’s a strong opener and even if Rainie’s vocals are a bit weak, the song itself is a lot of fun.

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Cute is the album’s first ballad and it is a pretty sweet song that matches its name. The verses aren’t that bad, but they are a bit boring. Luckily, the chorus is a bit better. While the delivery of the whole song is a bit generic, the melody is quite catchy. I especially like the song gets some more instruments popping in as it progresses. Generic, but a solid song.

The title track is a great tune. Meeting Love is another generic sounding song, but there is a sweetness to its light-hearted acoustic pop vibe. This kind of song works perfectly with Rainie’s candy-sweet vocals and while the song isn’t the most exciting, it has a relaxing catchiness to it. I especially like how the verses transition so easily into that cute chorus that really embodies the lyrical content.

On the Left brings down the energy a bit by bringing a more touching ballad. The chorus is quite nice and while the melody isn’t the catchiest on the album, it is a surprisingly solid tune. I think the problem is that it gets overshadowed down by some of the stronger ballads on her and so it ends up a bit forgettable. It’s a solid tune though.

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A more emotionally-charged ballad follows up the last song and while it starts off a little slow and dragged out, there are some charming points to it. Can’t Find It isn’t particularly catchy, but I do like the feeling that the song brings. My only problem is that it only really gets started about halfway through when the instruments start to boost the song a bit more. Even then, I don’t think it quite hits the spot.

Celebration starts off sounding like it will be another ballad, but a funky dance beat soon comes blasting in. This is definitely a more summery tune and it is needed considering the amount of slower tunes. Unfortunately, I don’t really enjoy this song that much because it goes a bit over-the-top in its “cuteness” factor. Rainie’s voice is particularly nasally and while the song has a decent hook, the overall delivery is a bit lacking. It is saved mostly by its pre-chorus.

Mustard Chocolate is another cute pop song and while it doesn’t quite overdo it like the last song, it doesn’t have the hook like the last song to really take it to the next level. I do like the odd synth refrain that it brings in the music, but it does remind me a lot of a Berryz Koubou song. Not horrible, but not that great either.

Luckily, we return to the more serious side of things with Sleeping Beauty’s Insomnia. This one has a light acoustic vibe to it, but the overall song feels very standard Mandopop ballad. However, I really love this kind of sound if the melody is nice and it is in this case. The guitar really adds a nice edge to the music and the slower delivery of the song really helps to amp up the emotional factors. The best part of the song is the ending where the electric guitar comes soaring in and makes it a much more powerful tune.

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Automatically is the album’s last upbeat tune and it is a pounding dance tune. The music is a bit overpowering for me, but I do like that it has a lot of energy to it. I feel like the chorus is a bit flat because so much more could have been done to it. There could have been more flying synths, but instead it comes off a bit bare, which is unfortunate as the melody is actually pretty catchy. I do like this, but it could’ve been more.

If Rainie’s debut had Ambiguous as its stand out ballad, this album has Oversensitive. It starts off in a similar way with its gentle and slow start before really bringing the energy. The verses aren’t bad, but the chorus is definitely where things shine and that melody is quite catchy and everything works beautifully with Rainie’s sweet vocals. It doesn’t have the effortless charm that Ambiguous has, but it is a great ending.


Overall: This album is definitely stronger than her debut and I’m quite happy that it is. The middle of the album does suffer from some weaker songs, but they aren’t horrible. The beginning is definitely where the album shines most and the first three songs are among some of Rainie’s strongest (as well as the last song). It’s a pretty solid album, which I was not expecting.

B+

[Album] Jay Chou – Fantasy

Fantasy is the second album released by Jay Chou. This album cemented him as an established artist and contains some of his most well-known tracks. It was a huge hit in Taiwan and other Mandarin-speaking countries.

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Released: September 1, 2001
1. Love Before BC (愛在西元前)
2. Dad, I’m Home (爸,我回來了)
3. Simple Love (簡單愛)
4. Ninja (忍者)
5. I Find It Hard to Say (開不了口)
6. Shanghai 1943 (上海一九四三)
7. Sorry (對不起)
8. William Castle (威廉古堡)
9. Nunchucks (雙截棍)
10. Silence (安靜)

The album opens with Love Before BC, which is a lighthearted mid-tempo pop/R&B tune. This is the type of song I quite enjoy from Jay because the music is relaxing, but the melody still has enough energy to give a bit of punch. My only gripe is Jay’s vocals, which sound really lazy during the verses. Things get a little better for the chorus as this drowsy kind of style works nicely with the smooth melody. It’s a pretty decent opener anyways.

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Dad, I’m Home is another R&B/hip-hop song, but with a darker quality to it. I do quite like the inclusion of the strings to really give it that haunting sound. Unfortunately, I’m not a bit fan of Jay’s rapping songs (although that’s largely because of the music videos). This song definitely sounds better without the video, but it’s still not as intoxicating as the last song. The raps are really hard-hitting while the choruses are sung in that mumbling style and it creates a really odd contrast. It’s not as good as the last song, but it’s not bad.

I still think Simple Love is Jay’s best song. It has the light-hearted R&B touch, but has a stronger pop sound to it. Also, Jay’s voice is more active here and it works really well with the bouncy music. The chorus is also really catchy and sounds quite sweet. Everything works so nicely with the cute lyrics that talk about the feelings of being in love. Great!

Ninja is a bit ridiculous sounding with its odd hip-hop style. It tries to grab some elements from other world genres, but I’m just not a fan of this song. The chorus isn’t that bad, but for me it isn’t really that memorable. There are some fun parts to the song though like the weird sound effects that come popping up in the background. At least Jay’s rapping is better here.

Luckily, we swing right back to I Find It Hard to Say, which is a sweet-sounding ballad. This is one of the album’s biggest hits and it’s no surprise why. The song has a really nice build-up and while there are some weird sound effects again, the melody is really sweet and works really well with the combination of strings, guitar and light percussion. It’s definitely one of the album’s stronger songs and one of the best in his discography.

Shanghai 1943 is another gentle pop/R&B tune, but I don’t think it’s as strong as the last song. The verses are a bit drowsy and his singing just makes it sound like a drag to get through. The chorus is a bit better, but the melody just isn’t as memorable as the other songs that are similar to this one. The lyrics are pretty nice, but suffer from a weaker execution of the song.

I much prefer Sorry just because the beat and the guitar sounds really nice. It reminds me of American R&B from the early 00’s. I feel like the song would have benefited more without the rap for the pre-chorus, but it doesn’t detract too much from the song. It’s still a pretty cool tune and I feel like the layered vocals in the chorus help to bring an interesting edge that works nicely with the music. The breakdown in the middle is just strange though.

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William Castle starts off in a pretty haunting way and it instantly made me realize that this will be one of his R&B/hip-hop songs. The beat is really heavy and an odd contrast to the piercing organ-like refrain. I was thinking this song might be surprise me and it does get better as it goes along, but the verses are just not good. The chorus has a pretty cool idea with the background vocals sounding “ghost-like”, but Jay’s voice is just too mumbly that it ruins the energy. I’m on the fence with this one.

Nunchucks is a really big change in sound and sticks out like a sore thumb. It has a fast-paced pop/rock sound while Jay raps in the verses. It just doesn’t fit together. The music feels too lackluster in the verses and then the chorus comes along and it is just a bunch of messy chanting. This is the album’s worst song.

Luckily, things end well with Silence, which is a ballad. I love the piano at the start as it sounds really beautiful. Jay also sounds pretty good here and his tone does fit nicely with the sweetness of the tune. The chorus isn’t that strongest on the album, but the melody stills works nicely with the music. It really brings up the emotion. My biggest gripe is the ending though as Jay really strains to hit the notes.


Overall: This album is certainly better than his first. I quite like that the melodies were much stronger here and there are some stellar tunes, which I felt his debut lacked. With that said, there are some songs that are just boring or unneeded. Sometimes, the songs just lacked energy because of his voice and other times it just felt like the melodies were lackluster. Still, I feel like there were quite a few nice high points here.

B

[Album] Angela Chang – Aurora

Aurora is the second album released by Angela Chang. It was another success for the singer and spawned several hit singles.

aurora
Released: December 1, 2004
1. Mama Mama
2. Aurora (歐若拉)
3. The Sun in the Palm of My Hand (手心的太陽)
4. Floating Clouds (浮雲)
5. Straight Line (直線)
6. Starting Point(起點)
7. Easter (复活节)
8. Able to Love for a Long Time (可以愛很久)
9. Can’t Guess (猜不透)
10. Nothing Keeps Me Calm (靜不下來)
11. Adoration to Happiness (快樂崇拜)

Mama Mama opens the album on an upbeat note. This is one of Angela’s catchiest songs and the whole song is full of hooks. The chorus has a great melody and is easily stuck in your head. The verses are interesting as they have Angela rapping over a funky guitar. The thing about this song is that the music has some really great ideas with the guitar and odd synths blasting about. The only part that’s weird is the bridge as it brings a different kind of sound. Still a stellar song even after all these years.

Aurora brings a completely different sound and goes a more “ethnic” route with its more traditional-styled music. I really love this song as it is just as memorable as the last song while providing a really beautiful and touching feeling. The music can sound a bit odd at times as the instruments used do sound a bit too programmed, but there are some really great moments like the chorus.

The Sun in the Palm of My Hand is the first ballad and it’s one of my favourites on the album. It’s a pretty standard ballad, especially from this era of C-Pop as it features a flute and some synths that give the song a more traditional spin. The melody itself is quite beautiful and fits perfectly with the buildup in the chorus from the strings. Angela also sounds great and her piercing vocals don’t get too overpowered by the bombastic music.

Floating Clouds is a really interesting kind of pop tune. It has some pop/rock elements, but still has a dramatic arrangement the blends a lot of instruments. The melody is decent, but the verses are better as I was expecting the chorus to be a little harder hitting. It comes off a bit too fluffy, but it is still a pretty solid song.

Straight Line is a really odd song as it tries to bring in some Arabian elements into a pop/rock song. I think it has an interesting concept that tries to bridge some cool sounds, but it just doesn’t work out. The arrangement is rather flat and the melody is just messy. I feel like this could have worked out better if the chorus lessened the guitars and brought in some more instruments.

Starting Point is a lot better and has a great charm to it. It starts off sounding like it could be a ballad, but it soon gains some energy. The chorus is especially beautiful and while the music is nice, it’s the melody that really lifts the song. It gives this floating kind of feeling and works beautifully with Angela’s voice. I love it.

I find Easter to be a strange name for this song as the song itself is quite dark. It features a gorgeous Spanish guitar and some haunting strings. The chorus is easily the highlight of the song as it continues to build up the emotion. It’s sort of a slow burner, but I feel like the song’s quality is one of the best and the end result is definitely worth it. It gets better with each listen.

Able to Love for a Long Time is a pop song but has a bit of a Mediterranean twist to it to give it some character. I think it has an interesting sound, but I feel like it’s a bit all over the place. The music is sweet, but the strings just sound too overpowering and mixed with that odd electric guitar, it just doesn’t seem to have much focus. The song isn’t particularly catchy either.

Can’t Guess is another pretty standard Mandopop ballad, but it’s also another great piece. I like the feeling that this one tries to give as the melody feels a bit sad. I don’t think the melody is as memorable as some of the other ballads on here, but the music really makes up for it as it’s really beautiful with the gorgeous strings and Chinese string instruments. It’s simple, but nice.

Nothing Keeps Me Calm is a fun pop song with some rock elements. What I love about this song is that it is so bright and positive. It’s just the type of song that is fun to sing along to. It’s catchy and has an exciting arrangement and reminds me of something that Avril Lavigne might do. Angela’s voice also works nicely in this kind of track. Great!

Adoration to Happiness is a duet with Wilber Pan and I love it. It’s really outrageous, but still insanely catchy. It’s a funky pop song with some R&B and hip-hop elements. Wilber mainly raps and his rapping is really great here, while Angela focuses on the singing parts. It’s a great combination and one of the best upbeat songs on the album. My only problem would be that their voices are both edited differently so Angela sounds farther away than Wilber.


Overall: This is another great album. I actually like it more than her debut album, which also had a slew of fantastic songs. This album does have a few weaker songs, but the majority of the songs are quality tunes and there is a variety of sounds so things don’t get too boring. The melodies are pretty top notch and I love the more traditional elements that a lot of songs have in them. There were many great songs.

A+

[Album] Leehom Wang – If You Hear My Song

If You Hear My Song is the second album released by Leehom Wang. While his first album saw little success, Leehom moved record labels and was eventually promoted as someone with strong abilities in songwriter. This eventually led to his second album receiving moderate success and helping him to establish himself as a rising star.

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Released: August 7, 1996
1. If You Hear My Song (如果你聽見我的歌)
2. Call Me One Thousand Times (喊我一千遍)
3. Go Love (去愛)
4. Front Page Rock’n’Roll (頭版搖滾)
5. Stand By Me
6. It’s You (頭版搖滾)
7. Having You is Enough (有你就足夠了)
8. As Long As I Have You
9. Love is Difficult to Pull (情難牽)
10. Better Off Alone

Although I wasn’t too impressed by any songs off of his first album, the title track here, If You Hear My Song, is one of my favourite songs from him. It’s a slow ballad that has a very strong 90’s nostalgic sound to it. I love how it slowly gains steam before it goes into the chorus. The melody is really nice and I love how strong his voice sounds. It really complements the power the melody needs. It’s a great starter and one of his most emotional songs.

Call Me One Thousand Times is actually a funky pop tune and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I do find the verses really odd as the singing is a bit weirder and the background vocals are also very strange. I feel like this song isn’t my cup of tea because it just doesn’t have a more obvious structure and the whole song just comes off a little awkward. There are some interesting parts, but I’m not a big fan of the overall delivery.

Go Love is slow like a ballad, but has a brighter sound to it. It reminds me of something from his first album. I’m not sure what to feel about this song because the melody isn’t particularly memorable and it seems really choppy. The music is a bit soulful, but doesn’t quite push things either. I think it’s just sort of in an odd place.

Front Page Rock’n’Roll is a fun upbeat pop/rock and while it isn’t that catchy, it has a great energy to it. I also love the music as the rock elements work really nicely with the splashes of brass. It sort of reminds me of songs from the early late 80’s/early 90’s that would be featured in some fun movies. It’s just a lot of fun and Leehom sounds like he is having a blast as well.

Stand By Me is a contemporary cover of the Ben E. King classic of the same name. This is a great song and I love the song in its original form, so I was interested in Leehom’s take. He tries to make it a bit more R&B and hip-hop, but I’m not quite sure if those choices were great. He uses some really odd instruments like a freaky squeaking sound that just distracts things at the most crucial point of the song. It’s unfortunate because Leehom sounds great singing this.

It’s You is a slower ballad that focuses a lot on a gentle guitar. I really want to like this song, but it’s just too slow and sleep-inducing. It is nice and soft, but feels more like a lullaby. The music doesn’t really do much and just keeps this gentle quality going. Sweet song, but just not for me.

Having You is Enough is another slow acoustic ballad and I’m not sure if I can get through this one. I do feel like it doesn’t have that dreamier quality of the last song, so it has a bit more power and I quite like how Leehom’s voice sounds here. With that said, it just feels so long and like it doesn’t really go anywhere. These kinds of songs are always hit or miss for me.

And…As Long As I Have You is the English version of this song. I’m surprised they put it right after the original because that’s three really slow acoustic ballads in a row and two of them were the same song. An odd choice.

Love is Difficult to Pull is another ballad, but finally we get something with piano. I quite like the feeling of this song because the verses always feel like they are trying to show that something good is coming in the chorus. The chorus’ melody actually isn’t what I was expecting, but it’s not that bad. I was expecting something bigger and more grand, but this one goes through little bursts of power and an unpredictable melody.

Better Off Alone is another English song, though I’m pretty sure this is an original. It has a jazzier vibe to it that sets it apart from the other songs on here. I mean I do like the sound of it, especially the chorus, which is more energetic and quite catchy. I was not expecting that power as the verses are quite slick. I didn’t like it at first, but this song definitely grew on me.


Overall: To be honest, I was a bit surprised coming out of this album. The first song is amazing and one of his best songs ever, but the rest of the album just fell flat for me. His first album didn’t have many stand out pieces, but the songs were on a more consistent level. He played around with his sound more often on here, but it was just hit-or-miss. The slower acoustic songs were especially disappointing for me.

C

[Album] Cyndi Wang; Cyndi Loves You

Cyndi Loves You is the second album released by Cyndi Wang. This was another successful album by the rising star and contains some of her most well-known upbeat pop tunes.

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Released: March 26, 2004
1. Love You (愛你)
2. Moonlight (月光)
3. See You Tomorrow (明天見)
4. Rhythm of Love (戀愛節奏)
5. Sugar Jar (糖罐子)
6. Love Set (愛的套餐)
7. First Person I Loved (第一次愛的人)
8. Hold You and Cry (抱著妳哭)
9. Kindred Spirit (心心相印)
10. Feather (羽毛)

Love You is a cover of a song by Korean girl group, Papaya. It’s a cute tune with some reggae elements to it. The original (and other covers) is already great, so this song is a solid starter. It’s one of her biggest hits and it shows. It’s catchy, simple and works really well with Cyndi’s sweet voice. It’s the type of song that is easy to sing along to.

Moonlight is another cover, but this time of a song by the Village Singers (later covered by Shimatani Hitomi). I quite like Shimatani’s cover, so this is another nice version although it replaces the latin sound for something more laid back. It starts off with a gentle acoustic vibe and Cyndi sounds great here. As the song goes on, it gains some other instruments that give a fuller sound, but it still retains that more traditional style to it. It’s a really charming tune.

See You Tomorrow is the album’s first ballad and it’s a sadder one. I love how the song starts with the piano and rain and sets a nice atmosphere. It sort of builds up from there before bringing in the strings for the chorus. It’s not the catchiest melody for a ballad from her, but it does get the job done and it works nicely with the music. Cyndi also gives a pretty decent vocal performance and one I wasn’t expecting from her.

Rhythm of Love is pretty cool with its R&B elements. It does sound like something from 2000 and not 2004, but there are some fun parts to it like the verses. I don’t think Cyndi’s sweet voice really works here though and it lacks a bit of impact. It’s a decent song and the chorus is catchy, just not as strong as the first three tracks.

Sugar Jar is a midtempo pop/R&B and I think this works much better with Cyndi’s voice. Unfortunately, at this point, this is the most boring song on the album. It isn’t bad, but the melody just isn’t as memorable and it sort of lulls about. I think it would have been better if there was a more drastic transition into the chorus.

Love Set opens with some super odd background vocals, but soon transitions into a fun and bright pop tune. This is a cover of a Korean song by Hyun Zoo, but I’m not that familiar with the original, however this tune definitely has qualities of an early 00’s K-Pop song. It is catchy, although it does come off a bit more outdated than some of the other songs.

First Person I Loved is a cover of M2M’s “The Day You Went Away”, which is originally a great pop tune. Cyndi does this song justice although there are times where her singing is a bit off for the song’s atmosphere. It’s a catchy ballad and has a stunning melody that works beautifully with its melancholic atmosphere. I think my only major problem is the editing, which makes things have a bit of a disconnect between the vocals and music.

Back to the Mandopop ballad sound, Hold You and Cry just starts off very boring. The verses have nothing particularly interesting and I’m lulled to sleep. The chorus is a bit better as the melody has some power to it, but the overall delivery is on the dull side. It’s so weird because I usually like songs like this, but verses are actually a negative aspect to the song.

Kindred Spirit starts off in a way that makes it sound like its setting up for something and it is as around a minute in, a dance beat comes stumbling in. I’m not quite sure if I like this song though. I was expecting something a little more exciting as the beat is quite light and the delivery is a little flat. The only thing keeping the song afloat is the melody and even doesn’t have anything helping to push it forward.

Feather is light R&B/pop ballad, but it does what the last ballad did, which was use a boring verse to set up a slightly more interesting chorus. It just makes the song feel so slow and harder to get through. The chorus also lacks a bit of a strong melody as it sounds more like Cyndi is fitting in as many words as she can into it. Just meh.


Overall: I wasn’t really expecting a lot from this album and its delivery was actually a bit lacking. There were very few songs that stood out to me. Sure, there were a few decent tunes and one tune I would revisit, but the rest were forgettable and made little impact. They weren’t terrible to say the least, just dull and did little to enhance the album’s sound. I think I actually preferred her debut album, which had higher highs.

B-

[Album] A-mei Zhang – Bad Boy

Bad Boy is the second album released by A-mei Zhang. The album proved to be an even bigger success than her debut and many of the songs on the album are still regarded as classics. It was so popular that it eventually became the best selling album in Taiwan, with over 1.3 million copies sold.

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Released: October 7, 1997
1. Can’t Cry (哭不出來)
2. Whenever I Think About You (一想到你呀)
3. Lonely Tequila (孤單 Tequila)
4. Dancing Alone (一個人跳舞)
5. Listen to the Sea (聽海)
6. Bad Boy
7. Sweet Words (甜言蜜語)
8. Lover? Enemy? (情人?敵人?)
9. Love, Not Too Early or Too Late is Better (愛,不太早不太晚,剛好)
10. Loved You (愛過你)

It’s a bit of a surprise that the album starts with Can’t Cry, which is a ballad. Although she did it with her debut, this one is a bit different because it is more of a slow builder. The song starts off pretty gentle with just A-mei, a piano and light synths. The chorus is definitely the highlight as the melody does a great job showing off A-mei’s soaring vocals. The song only really starts picking up after the second bridge where A-mei hits a huge note before slamming into the final chorus. It’s exhilarating and a strong start.

Whenever I Think About You is my favourite song on the album. It’s the first upbeat song but it has this carefree nature about it that I absolutely love. Not to mention that it is really catchy. The music itself is a bit oldschool, but I think it still holds up rather well because the stomping beat and funky guitar really give it some great energy. With that said, I love how fun the song sounds and it is the kind that is easy to sing along to.

Lonely Tequila is a bit off an odd song as it has a jazzier aspect to it. The synths and saxophone here make the song sound totally 90’s, but it still does a great job of bringing a more mature style. The beginning is nice, but it isn’t as interesting as the second half the song where the song becomes more dramatic and intense and fits the lyrics that delve into needing someone. This song fits perfectly with the raspy quality of A-mei’s vocals and it is another stellar tune.

Dancing Alone continues the jazzier sound, but brings something a little more upbeat. I love the funky bass and it sounds great in this sexier number. I think one thing I love about the songs on this album is that A-mei’s voice is just so versatile and her vocal abilities allow her to really take over a song even if she doesn’t belt it out. This song isn’t as strong as the other songs, but I still love it because it has a great 80’s vibe going on and it is still really catchy.

Listen to the Sea is probably the album’s biggest song and one of A-mei’s signature hits. This one is a bit like the first song on the album because it starts off pretty gentle. The chorus is once again the highlight with its soaring notes and does a great job of matching with the heartbreaking lyrics. A-mei’s voice sounds especially great here as well.

The title track, Bad Boy, is a fun latin-inspired upbeat pop tune. I wasn’t a big fan of this song when I first heard it, but it has grown on me tremendously. The guitar tied with the pounding beat and A-mei’s raspy vocals is a really great fusion. The hooks are a bit repetitive, but it still works out nicely and it is easy to get stuck in your head. With that said, I actually love the verses more. Solid tune.

At first, I found Sweet Words to be boring because it focuses a lot on just A-mei and an acoustic guitar. However, the song is really beautiful and A-mei’s voice when that opening chorus line comes in is absolutely stunning. I also love the music as the percussion gives subtle, but much needed boosts of power while piano and guitar seem to play off of each other. It’s not one of her usual power ballads, but it still works wonderfully.

Speaking of power ballads, Lover? Enemy? comes storming in. This is a dark and dramatic ballad, but it shows A-mei’s versatility and how she can handle all different kinds of songs. With that said, whereas the last song is more timeless in its sound, I find the music to this one totally stuck in the 90’s with its synths. With that said, I love it and it is a favourite of mine. A-mei’s voice is at her most powerful and the music does a great job of really helping her voice soar.

Love, Not Too Early or Too Late is Better is my least favourite song on the album. It is an upbeat song with a pop melody, while the music is a weird mix of pop and rock. It’s not a bad song per se, just weaker than everything else on here. It is relatively catchy, but it just doesn’t have the same attitude or hooks the other upbeat songs have nor does it have the emotional power. With that said, there are some really great parts to it like the bridge. A good song, but just outdone.

Finishing the album on a powerful note, I Loved You is probably the most “Mandopop” sounding ballad on here as the melody reminds me of other songs that were released around this time. It has a really powerful accompaniment and I do like the energy that it brings, but I wish the melody stood out a bit more. With so many strong ballads on this album, it sort of sits in the shadow. It has its charms though.


Overall: This is one of my favourite albums, if not my favourite. I love almost every song and the first eight songs are all strong while still giving a variety of sounds. While some of the songs are a bit outdated in the music, I find the melodies to be timeless and A-mei’s voice really helps keep the songs really engaging. Back in the day, I only liked a few songs from this album and would have ranked her first album higher, but this is definitely an album that is both cohesive, but full of individual hits.

A+