[Album] Coco Lee – Woman in Love

Woman in Love is the third album released by Coco Lee. It was her last album under the Fancy Pie label and was released just a few months after her first English cover album, Brave Enough to Love. It fared better than her previous ones and helped heighten her popularity as a relative newcomer.

womaninlove

Released: September 16, 1995
1. My Love is Yours (我愛的是你)
2. Woman in Love (Strings Version) (被愛的女人 (弦樂版))
3. You are in My Heart (你在我心上)
4. Immortal (不朽)
5. Can’t Learn to Love You More (學不會更愛你)
6. Forget It (忘了吧)
7. Turn a Blind Eye (視若無睹)
8. Woman in Love (被愛的女人)
9. Pearl in My Hand (掌上明珠)
10. Thankful (感謝)

Opening things with My Love is Yours, we get a pretty dramatic ballad. Coco’s voice sounds really beautiful here and although she focuses on her head voice a lot, she is still able to bring the right punch to fit the percussion. The song itself starts off quite slow and gently, but it soon gains energy and power during the chorus. I actually like the melody here because there is an intensity to it. The song is a bit too outdated sounding, but it is nice.

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The title track is yet another ballad. It doesn’t quite have the same intensity as the last song, but there is an almost sad quality to the melody that really helps Coco’s voice to soar. The strings version is pretty beautiful and Coco demonstrates her vocal control here. The song feels a bit more traditional in its delivery, especially considering the use of the strings help to make it more haunting. The original version of Woman in Love that comes up later on doesn’t have as many differences but the added percussion and guitar actually help it sound fuller. The final chorus is also much stronger and really pushes things.

I’m not sure what to think as You are in My Heart is the third ballad in a row. I mean, this one seems to have an almost 90’s ballad feel to it and feels like something you would hear from a movie around this time. This especially evident in the music with its classic strings, light R&B beat and sparkling synths. It’s a pretty song, although a bit generic.

Immortal continues the ballad spree, but it has a more dramatic sound to it. I like how it uses some really dramatic instruments to create this overwhelmingly intense feeling that is only pushed forward by Coco’s passionate performance. My only gripe is that it feels like it is continually building to something, but the final chorus doesn’t quite hit the mark.

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I’m excited to finally get an upbeat song with Can’t Learn to Love You More. This one has a funky guitar riff and brings a bit of rock into it. I like that it has a brighter sound to it, but it isn’t particularly catchy. I feel like one of the biggest problems is that Coco is singing in her head voice throughout the whole song so it just lacks any punch in its vocal delivery. It would’ve been more interesting had it been in chest or mixed voice.

Forget It brings us a heavier pop tune that depends on a pumping bassline and light rock influence. I feel like the melody to this song is something very similar to what would be heard in the 90’s. It’s a pretty cool song and even though I wish it had a bit more power to it, it is still a catchy tune.

Returning to the ballad route, Turn a Blind Eye is a classic pop ballad. I feel as though this one comes off as your standard Mandopop ballad, but that’s not a bad thing. The melody is pretty catchy and it feels like the type that would be easy to sing along to. I don’t think it is particularly impressive, but I like its lighter and more straightforward appeal.

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Pearl in My Hand is a reggae song, which initially made me worried due to Coco’s last attempt at reggae on her first album…Luckily, this song is better than that one. I don’t think it’s that interesting and Coco tries to sing in a higher pitch, which is odd. It’s easily the weakest song on the album as the chorus is pretty flat and quite forgettable. Not terrible, just lackluster.

Of course things end on a slower note. Thankful is a pretty ballad and while it doesn’t sound particularly interesting at first, the melody has some really nice quirks to it. It takes a bit of time to really get moving, but I really like how calm and laid back it sounds. I feel like this is a good way to end things.


Overall: This is easily Coco’s strongest of her Fancy Pie albums. There were still a few weaker tunes, but the general delivery was much stronger. The ballads were pretty decent overall and it’s easy to see why Coco would excel at them since she has such a good voice. The upbeat songs were hit or miss though. My biggest gripe would probably be the over-reliance on her head voice, which just felt too weak on certain songs that called for some power.

B

[Album] Jolin Tsai – Show Your Love

Show Your Love is the third album released by Jolin. While her first two were runaway successes, Jolin wanted to mature her sound and image. However, this resulted in the album not performing as strongly as the first two and the sales suffered as a result, with the album only selling 260,000 copies. Some songs were still rather successful and “Do You Still Love Me?” charted in the top 30 songs of the year.

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Released: December 20, 2000
1. Show Your Love
2. Love is Near (快有愛)
3. Do You Still Love Me (你還愛我嗎)
4. Baby Face
5. If On That Day You Say You Love Me (如果那天你說愛我)
6. Reluctant (捨不得)
7. Fell in Love with a Street (愛上了一條街)
8. Pretty Pretty Day
9. See at a Glance (一眼就看見)
10. Feel Your Presence (感覺你的存在)

As with her last two albums, this one opens with an upbeat pop tune. I would say Show Your Love is better than her previous ones because it goes with a light disco sound that is reminiscent of pop in the late 90’s. The funky synths and beat work nicely and I like the energy of the music. I think Jolin sounds more confident and her voice is also stronger. It’s not perfect, but it’s a pretty fun opening.

Love is Near is a really cool song that combines some different sounds into a calming midtempo pop song. I am pleasantly surprised with this song because I really like the mix of the synths and the more light acoustic vibe. I do wish the beat was a bit different, but I feel like this song is really calming and works nicely with her sweet voice. It’s not particularly catchy, but there is a charm to its hypnotic delivery.

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The album’s hit song comes in the form of a slow ballad. Do You Still Love Me? is an R&B-lite pop ballad. I feel like it works nicely with Jolin’s voice and you can definitely hear her improved vocals in this song. The problem comes in with the chorus as there is a really weird jump transitioning into it that comes off a bit unnatural and sort of ruins the flow into the chorus. The melody is nice, but relies a lot on the power of the music as it comes off pretty forgettable later on. A bit boring to be honest.

I was really excited when I saw the title Baby Face because it made me think it might be an R&B song and I was right. This is her most aggressive song to date in terms of arrangement and it’s a welcomed change. The beat is pretty oldschool sounding and fits more in the 90’s, but I like how Jolin goes the whispery route. The chorus is surprisingly catchy and while it is repetitive, it is memorable. Pretty solid.

Bringing us another ballad, we have If On That Day You Say You Love Me. This one goes for a more acoustic sound as well, but what sets this apart from the other ballad is that the melody is stronger and more memorable. However, I wish the song was stronger near the end. It keeps feeling like it will build into something more powerful but it never reaches that point. It’s still a pretty song.

And yet another ballad comes in with Reluctant. This one is pretty standard and I find it matches the songs from her past albums more than this one. Unfortunately, that’s where it suffers. The melody isn’t bad, but there isn’t any power to it and it floats along, while the music is pretty bland.

Fell in Love with a Street is a really cool song and goes the midtempo route, but with a funky bassline. I like it’s dreamier vibe as it differentiates itself from the rest of the album in terms of vibe. The pre-chorus is a little odd with the focus on the “nanana”s, but I love how everything transitions into the stronger chorus. It has a slick R&B sound to it that I think would have benefited more from a stronger vocalist like A-Mei, but it is still pretty fun.

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The next song goes the fun and summery style. Pretty Pretty Day is a fun song with some light reggae elements, but it sort of lacks substance. I like the heavy drum and the energy of the melody, but the music is pretty bare and doesn’t have a lot of power compared to the vocal arrangement. It’s a bit weird and just not to my tastes.

See at a Glance goes the light R&B route, but it feels like a Mandopop ballad with an R&B beat. It isn’t bad, but it feels like it doesn’t totally blend together that well and there seems to be a bit of disconnect, especially considering the beat overpowers the vocals in the song. The melody is nice, but I feel like it would’ve been better if it wasn’t stomped on.

I do like that the album ends on a positive note with Feeling Your Presence. Here, we get a carefree and bright pop song it’s one of the stronger songs on the album just because it feels like one of the more clearly-focused songs. It also has a great energy to it despite not being particularly catchy. The odd talking parts that come in weren’t needed though.


Overall: This album wasn’t as positively received when it was released, but I think it is stronger than her first two. I didn’t feel a bit change in sound from Jolin here, but I do feel like the styles of some songs were different, like the added influence of R&B. I did like that more of the album was midtempo or upbeat and there were fewer ballads as they were the weaker points. The first half of the album started off quite strong but things started to teeter off by the second half and then we got some songs that sounded more fitting of her previous two, which was unfortunate. Still a stronger release.

B-

[Album] Elva Hsiao – Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the third album released by Elva Hsiao. It was another hit with two of the songs ranking within the top 100 songs of 2001.

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Released: April 21, 2001
1. Tomorrow (明天)
2. Secret (秘密)
3. Let It Go
4. Angel That Temporarily Left (天使暫時離開)
5. To Make a Long Story Short (長話短說)
6. I Love You So Much (我愛你那麼多)
7. The Next Love (下一次戀愛)
8. Love Beauty (愛情美)
9. Promise Me (答應我)
10. Love for the Third Time (愛第三次)

I didn’t really like this song at first, but the title track has slowly grown on me. Tomorrow starts off as a ballad before coming in with a dance beat and some distortion on Elva’s voice. The verses are pretty cool, but it’s the chorus where things end up being flat. The music has a fun beat and some Middle-Eastern elements to it, but the melody isn’t particularly catchy. It’s not bad, just not particularly memorable and doesn’t have a strong hook and feels a bit empty. Not a bad start, but doesn’t wow me as an opener.

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Secret goes the slower route with a sultry R&B tune that has a wicked bass-line. I really like how it sounds, although it feels more like a late 90’s song than something from the early 00’s. The verses are pretty sweet and I love Elva’s voice here as she sounds her most comfortable. The chorus melody is fast-paced, but it’s actually really wicked when tied with the bass-line and vocal riffs that fly over it. This is definitely what I was hoping to hear.

Featuring Stanley Huang, Let It Go brings us back to the upbeat style with this dance number. I was hoping for something a little stronger, but this song is pretty forgettable. The verses aren’t that great to listen to and the chorus just falls flat. The hooks are weak and there isn’t enough energy to really make it stand out. Stanley’s rapping is pretty fun, but that’s it.

Into the ballad-zone we go with Angel That Temporarily Left. This is a pretty pop/R&B ballad but it just comes off a little odd. The verses are bland and the chorus just isn’t much better. It sounds like a late 90’s pop ballad that with a strange melody that doesn’t quite know what it wants to do. The melody doesn’t quite want to sit on any notes and it makes Elva sound off-pitch.

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To Make a Long Story Short is another R&B tune, but it’s one of the stronger songs on the album. The melody is much catchier here and I love the touches of Spanish guitar in the music to help set it apart. I don’t like the verses, but the song does get better as things progress into the chorus. Even Elva sounds more confident in this song than the last.

The album’s biggest hit was I Love You So Much. This is yet another slow song, but loses some of those R&B elements is more classic in its style. I like the music as the touches of traditional Chinese instruments really help bring some variety. However, the song is just boring. It’s too slow. While the ending is a bit better, it just doesn’t quite interest me that much in the long run.

I’m always happy when we get another R&B track. The Next Love brings it back but with a happier style and is a cover of SAKURA’s “One” (she is also featured in the song). I like the beat to the song, although the verses aren’t particularly interesting. The chorus is a bit better and while it doesn’t quite have the hooks of the other R&B songs on here, it’s still pretty nice to hear something a little brighter. Compared to the original, it’s a little lacking, but it’s still a decent cover even if the production sounds cheaper.

Love Beauty finally gives us an upbeat song, although I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. This one definitely sounds like a Britney Spears kind of pop song. The beat is heavy and there is a splash of synths everything to make it more futuristic in sound. The chorus starts off pretty good but sort of falters as it goes on and just lacks a strong melody throughout. It’s not bad though.

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Now we get back to the ballads with Promise Me. This song sounds more like a Chinese ballad from the 90’s with its focus on the keyboard and softer delivery. It’s not the most exciting song, but I do think it’s the best of the classic ballads because the melody is much nicer and Elva sounds more comfortable singing it. The music also has a bit of power to it that works well to push the chorus.

To end things off, we get the latin-inspired Love for the Third Time. It’s a bit of a surprising transition, but this one is at least more promising than the last. I would say this is the best upbeat song on the album because it actually has a catchy melody and the music is fun and helps to bring some edge instead of the usual dance/pop. It’s a weird ending, but at least it ends things off on a good note.


Overall: This her weakest album yet. While her debut and second album had some weak tunes, there was still a variety of great tunes among a group of average ones. Here, there was quite a handful of weaker songs and a lack of standout songs. I would say there was only one song that really stood out and maybe two solid ones at best. The melodies were just lacking here and the music in quite a few songs just felt lacking and empty.

C+

[Album] Christine Fan – FanFan’s World

Christine Fan burst onto the scenes in 2000 and garnered a decent reception. Her warm vocals and gentle ballads were a hit and she gradually became a rising star. FanFan’s World is Christine Fan’s debut album.

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Released: November 8, 2000
1. My First Century (我的初世紀)
2. Because (因為)
3. Think Too Much (想太多)
4. Everyday (每天)
5. If I Had an Angel Wand (如果我有一支天使棒)
6. Mysophobia (潔癖)
7. You Have a Black Heart
8. Can’t Reach (到不了)
9. We Are Friends (我們是朋友)
10. Don’t Want to Cry (不要哭)
11. Bye Bye (拜拜)

I love how the album opens on the pop/rock tune, My First Century. This is a very early 2000’s sounding song and reminds me a bit of something from Michelle Branch. It has a really positive attitude to it and that’s especially heard in the light guitar riff that flows throughout the song’s background. The verses are quite nice, but it is that punch from the chorus that really brings the much needed energy to the song as the melody ties wonderfully with the added percussion and electric guitar. A great opening.

Because brings something a little on the gentler side with its relaxed acoustic sound. I’m usually not a huge fan of these kinds of songs, but Christine has the perfect voice for this. The airy deepness to her voice is able to bring a sense of warmth that matches the gorgeous melody. The highlight of the song is that touching melody with its ability to showcase her light vocals.

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Another pop/rock track come thumping in with Think Too Much, but this time it is more on the midtempo side of things. This is another very 2000’s pop/rock tune, but it is still a solid tune despite not quite hitting the same charms as the last two songs. It isn’t as explosive and the melody isn’t as catchy, but there are some really nice points to it like the subtle hints of guitar in the backdrop and its powerful beat.

Everyday opens in a weird way as it starts off sounding like an opera. The actually song comes in after and is a sweeping piano ballad. This is a pretty beautiful song in regards to its music. I really love the inclusion of strings as it really amps up the melancholic quality of the melody. However, the song can get a bit dull. The melody isn’t particularly strong, although there are a few areas where its unpredictability works in its favour.

The next song is actually a cover of a Melanie C song. If I Had An Angel Wand is a bit of an odd song with its bouncy piano and sillier attitude. At first, I find this song a bit ridiculous, especially considering the seriousness of the first four songs, but this is a great break and is a fun tune. The chorus is really catchy and it is easy to sing-along to. There are some weird choices that pop up here like the random autotune and the odd vocal performance at the end of the song, but the craziness gives it a lot of energy.

Mysophobia is my least favourite song on this album. It has a darker sound to it that mixes pop, rock and some dance. The chorus is absolutely terrible because it just explodes but with some of Christine’s worst singing. She just sounds like she is singing really lazily and loud. The verses aren’t much better either as they are quieter and frankly, quite boring. This song does match its title really well, but it is just too weird for me.

You Have a Black Heart is better with its laid back acoustic pop/rock vibes, but while it isn’t the most exciting song, there are some really nice parts to it. The opening of the chorus is quite beautiful and I enjoy the melody here. I just wish the background vocals were tweaked a little more as they comes off a bit overpowering at points and don’t quite work at times. It’s a surprisingly sweet sounding song considering the title though.

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I would say that Can’t Reach is the album’s high point. It’s the most mainstream sounding ballad on here, but it does its job. It starts off pretty gently with its focus on the piano and strings. The verses are especially calming, but when that chorus comes sliding in, things are just taken to another level. It’s not a punch of energy, but there the softness of the melody tied with Christine’s voice just works together so well. The final chorus has things amped up a bit more with some more percussion that really heightens the emotional aspect of the song.

We Are Friends is a midtempo pop song. This song starts off pretty mainstream sounding as well, but once the pre-chorus comes in, it really starts to get its shine. It focuses more on the acoustic guitar and the melody is surprisingly catchy. I wasn’t really expecting a song like this, especially in the second half where the percussion and electric guitar really give the song a lot more power.

The next song is a duet between Christine and Zuo An-An. I Don’t Want to Cry is a pretty standard sounding Mandopop ballad from this time, but it doesn’t quite hit the spot for me. There are some really nice points to it like how both of them blend well with one another and the softness of the melody, but the overall delivery of the song is rather bland.

To end things, we get very late 90’s sounding pop/rock song, although this time Christine is channeling the sound of Alanis Morisette. The melody of Bye Bye is reminiscent of Alanis’ monster hit, Ironic, but it doesn’t have the same power and instead opts for a more straightforward performance. It’s a solid tune and I quite like it even if it can be a little forgettable.


Overall: This is a good debut album. It is a bit outdated sounding with its late 90’s, early 00’s pop/rock sounds, but there are some really strong melodies on here and Christine’s voice sounds great on a number of songs. There are certainly a few weaker and more forgettable songs on here and one song in particularly I wish was not on here, but the majority of the songs are pretty nice. With that said, while she is my favourite C-Pop artist, this is one of her weaker entries for me.

B+

[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.

Print

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-

[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