[Album] Cyndi Wang – Begin…

Cyndi debuted in 2003 and exploded onto the scene. While she had some experience from local dramas, her singing career was backed by the Taiwan division of Japanese label, avex. Her career soon took off and her acting also became popular. Despite constant comparisons to Jolin Tsai at the start of her career, Cyndi soon crafted her own image based around bubblegum pop. Begin… is her debut album.

begin
Released: February 24, 2003
1. Tears of Cinderella (灰姑娘的眼淚)
2. Beauty
3. When You (當你)
4. On My Way
5. I Thought (我以為)
6. Baby Baby Tell Me
7. Non-Soulmate (非soul-mate)
8. As Time Goes By
9. This… (這…)
10. Behind the Happiness (幸福背後)

While the title sounds like a ballad and the opening comes off as one, Tears of Cinderella is a dark dance/pop tune. The song’s music focuses a lot on weird synths combined with a haunting strings background. It’s actually a really interesting combination and in this case, it works surprisingly well. While the song has become a bit outdated, it’s just a catchy tune. The chorus is really fast-paced and has a nice beat to it, while the verses help to bring a bit of contrast with their calmer sound. A good starter and still one of my favourite Cyndi songs. Beauty does a good job of continuing this upbeat sound. This time, we have something a little more along the lines of hip-hop. The beat is really pounding and this is the type of beat I’m not quite fond of, especially when placed on the forefront. I quite enjoy the verses because they work well with the music, but it feels like the beat just does not match the more melodic chorus. Not bad, but not great. When You is the first ballad of the album and it’s pretty much what you would expect a 00’s C-Pop ballad would sound like. The gentle guitar and piano tied with the slight R&B beat is a pretty common occurrence at this time (and still happens today). Luckily, I love my generic Mandopop ballads and what this song does well is the melody. The verses are decent, but largely forgettable. It’s the chorus that shines with that bounciness as it gives this part a bit more energy. Not one of the best ones I’ve heard, but it’s decent. On My Way is a cover of a Korean ballad (by J). However, J is a much more interesting vocalist than Cyndi, which really shows when Cyndi tries to pull this song off. The music is very dramatic with its heavy guitar and percussion. While Cyndi is fine during the verses, she just gets a bit lost in the chorus. Her voice is too sweet for how passionate the music is and she just doesn’t give the right kind of emotion here. It’s a good thing the song itself is so nice. I Thought brings us back to the ballad route. It starts off pretty gentle with the keyboard mixed with touches of sparkling synths. The chorus brings us a light R&B beat and adds a little power to the song. While the melody is nice, the overall song is a bit of a snoozefest. Things do get a bit more interesting around the end, but the whole delivery is flat and there really is nothing that stands out about this one. Baby Baby Tell Me is a cover of an Uhm Jung Hwa song. It’s quite lighthearted and has a nice beat to it. However, there is just something lacking about everything. The background vocals in the chorus mixed with the melody just come off a bit lacking. I think some of it is partly because Cyndi’s voice just isn’t that strong and she doesn’t elevate the song very much. Another weak song. Non-soulmate is much more interesting. Here, we get back to the more upbeat dance style. What I enjoy most is that this song has a little bit more edge to it. The verses are rather sensual and work well to build up to that strong chorus. Cyndi’s voice actually sounds much better here and she works that funky melody really well. This is just a very catchy song. As Time Goes By is another cover of a Korean song, this time being Tasha (Yoon Mirae). It’s your standard laid back R&B tune that was popular in Korean in the early 00’s. The song itself isn’t bad, but it’s definitely the type of song that is largely dependent on the singer. Unfortunately, in this case Cyndi just doesn’t have the chops to really let it reach a higher level. Her runs are quite sloppy and her voice just doesn’t have the technique to properly hit those high notes, so everything comes off a bit weak. Once again saved by a good song. This… is the fourth Korean cover. This time, she covers Dana’s Diamond. I absolutely adore the original, so I was pleasantly surprised with this. Luckily, Cyndi’s voice works much better in this style. The song itself is an upbeat pop tune that is rather similar to the first track. It’s fast-paced and hides a lot of Cyndi’s vocal weaknesses, while helping to showcase her better parts such as her lower register. It’s not as strong as the original, but it’s a solid tune. Behind the Happiness ends things on a gentler note. Here we have a calming acoustic ballad. This song works so nicely with Cyndi’s voice. She isn’t struggling to hit the high notes and her sweet voice matches the music perfectly. While it does lose a bit of steam as the song progresses, I do like that it changes things up a bit on the ballad routee. Definitely one of the stronger songs and a good ending.

Overall: I wasn’t terribly impressed with this album. I was hoping for a few more stand out tunes, but there were really only two or three. In all honesty though, this is pretty much the level I expected as this is her debut album. There were a few solid tunes, but there were also a few duds. A large part of the album was made up of covers, which I found odd because quite a few of them just didn’t work with Cyndi’s voice and just seemed like they were thrown in for the sake of having some stronger songs.

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