[Album] Jolin Tsai – Don’t Stop

Don’t Stop is the second album released by Jolin Tsai. It continued the girl-next-door image that Jolin became known for. The album proved to be an even bigger success as it sold over 400,000 copies.

dontstop
Released: April 26, 2000
1. Don’t Stop
2. Are You Happy? (你快樂嗎)
3. What Kind of Love? (什麼樣的愛)
4. You Gotta Know
5. Eternity (永恆)
6. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (Hi) (嗨)
7. Words of Loneliness (孤單的人總說無所謂)
8. Floating (漂浮)
9. Love Song for You (唱這首歌)
10. Sugar Sugar

The album opens with Don’t Stop, which is a cover of S Club 7’s Bring It All Back. It does try to change things up because it adds a bit of guitar throughout the song to give it a pop/rock edge to it compared to the poppier original. It’s a catchy song and this version still retains that. I don’t think I’m in love with it because it just doesn’t push things to the next level, but Jolin does sound more confident than on her first album.

Are You Happy? is the album’s main ballad single and it is the best song on here (and stronger than anything on her debut). First, the song has a great melody and it is memorable. It’s the type of song that is easy to sing along to. Also, Jolin’s voice sounds much stronger and she has better control over her voice. She still isn’t the strongest vocalist, but she does handle the ending note change much better at the end.

What Kind of Love? is another ballad that is quite similar to the last song. I don’t think this one is as memorable, but it is still a nice tune. It’s a bit calmer and less passionate sounding, but the energy does pick up a little more later on. It’s not that bad, but it does come off a bit boring because Jolin’s voice is a bit monotone throughout.

You Gotta Know comes in and it is an upbeat pop tune with some light rock elements. It sounds a bit like a cover, but I’m not sure. It really reminds me of songs from the mid-90’s, but not as catchy. The way the vocals are edited is a bit off and it just comes off dull and while the music has energy, but the melody just doesn’t hit that spot. Not bad, but just incredibly average.

Eternity is yet another ballad. It starts off very similar to the last ballad with its gentle sound and gradual push. I must say that I like this song more than the last song because Jolin’s sweet vocals work really nicely with the music. Unfortunately, the song tries to step things up at the end and it just doesn’t work. It’s a bit of a mess vocally.

Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (Hi) is a big change as we are given an upbeat reggae tune. The song isn’t terrible, but it is a nice change of pace and sound. I don’t think the hooks are as strong as I want them to be, but I like the vibe the music gives. The odd background vocals do ruin the song a bit though and I don’t quite like how Jolin’s voice is edited. Could be better to be honest.

Words of Loneliness is a darker sounding ballad and the music nicely fits the music and lyrics. This one really reminds me of something from the mid-90’s in C-Pop, which is a nice change as the ballads always came off a bit more emotional at that time. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t really change much throughout and keeps up at a pretty steady sound and atmosphere. I wish it did get a bit more powerful as it is a longer tune (around five minutes). Still a nice tune though.

Floating is an upbeat song with a bit of a heavier bass background. I quite like the more laid back and carefree vibe of the song and the odd fusion of instruments that come in is an interesting surprise as well. The melody isn’t particularly catchy, but there’s a charm to its unpredictability that is a nice change from some of the other songs.

Love Song for You is a cover of a Lee Soo Young song. I’m not as familiar with the original, but the chorus does sound more like a Korean ballad. It’s a nice tune, but I don’t think it’s as powerful as it could be. The music sounds more like the karaoke version due to the instruments used and Jolin’s voice just isn’t as strong as Lee Soo Young’s.

Sugar Sugar is a cover of the famous Sugar Sugar song by The Archies (yes, the comic). I like that it tries to update things but bringing a dance beat and some more computerized sounding synths. It’s an interesting twist and I think it is one of the catchier songs on here. The weirdest part though is that there is a rap that was used here that is also featured in Kim Hyun Jung’s Breakup With Her.


Overall: This album was much better than her debut album. There are actually some good, memorable tracks on here and Jolin sounds much stronger. Unfortunately, the album is still weak in some areas. I feel like many of songs just didn’t take things to the next level or the way the music was done was just not as interesting. The covers were mostly weaker than the originals because the changes in music made them feel more like karaoke versions. It is a step up, but it could be better.

C+

Advertisements

[Album] Jolin Tsai – 1019

Jolin Tsai debuted in 1999 and instantly became a teenage heartthrob. While she has later become famous for her more upbeat dance tunes, Jolin’s debut was more grounded in bubblegum pop with a sprinkle of ballads. Her first album, 1019, was a big hit and produced a number of hits.

1019
Released: September 10, 1999
1. Because of You
2. I Know You Feel So Sad (我知道你很難過)
3. Guessing (猜想)
4. Who Are You (你是誰)
5. Living With the World (I Can) (和世界做鄰居(我可以))
6. Out on the Street (上街)
7. Blame It on My Youth (怪我太年輕)
8. Good-Bye
9. Emptiness (空白)
10. I Know You Feel So Sad (Karaoke Version)
11. The Rose (Bonus Track)

1019 opens with a cover of a 98 Degrees song, Because of You. I think it is an interesting choice to have, but it surprisingly works well with Jolin’s rather unrefined and sweet vocals. I do feel the whole cover as a bit outdated though as the changes infused into this one sound a bit odd like the strange background vocals. While I would of preferred an original song, the chorus is really catchy and during this period, it isn’t surprising to see lots of covers on C-Pop albums. I think Jolin sounds fine, but her vocal weaknesses are apparent here when she starts to belt it out. It’s a cute song, but nothing particularly original.

Probably the biggest success from the album, I Know You Feel So Sad, is the first ballad to pop up. The overall arrangement is very reminiscent of the late 90s sound in C-Pop, which means that while the song could easily be updated to today’s standards, the production is very oldschool. What I do enjoy about this ballad is that while the chorus does gain some steam as the song progresses, it does pretty much stick to this more laid back melody. Jolin does belt it out in a bit at the end, but the atmosphere of the song generally doesn’t change. I don’t think it is as strong as some other ballads from this era, but it’s a nice tune.

Guessing is a midtempo pop ballad and a cover of Boyzone’s A Different Beat. It has some interesting aspects to it. I like the use of the background vocals in the chorus and there are some cute synths that pop in and out of the song. However, it is extremely dated sounding. This isn’t necessarily bad, but the song isn’t the strongest either. It sort of just keeps dragging along.

Who Are You brings up the tempo a little and this time we get something a little more R&B influenced. I like how bright the song is and the music is quite cheery and reminds me a bit of summer. However, it does sound rather empty at times, too. I wish the chorus was fuller because it doesn’t really work well with the melody. The melody itself is also rather odd and doesn’t have too many strong hooks that keep it exciting. A bit weak.

Living With the World (I Can) was released as the first single off the album. As it starts, it has this very mysterious and airy quality to it. It starts to gain some steam as it enters the chorus and I’m very impressed with how strong Jolin’s vocals are. She wasn’t that strong of a vocalist at this time, but she was able to work around this song. The music arrangement is a bit bare, but I enjoy the interesting background vocals and everything works well.

I cannot deal with Out on the Street. This is the most upbeat song up to this point and it has a stronger hip hop sound. Basically, Jolin is rapping here with some other guy. She isn’t good at it. I do this the musical arrangement is a lot of fun, but it just gets overshadowed by the ridiculous chorus and Jolin’s “rapping”. It’s just a weird song, but it is a little catchy at times.

Finally back to the pop ballad style, Blame It on My Youth has the same kind of sound I Know You Feel So Sad. However, I don’t think the melody is as catchy as that one. The chorus does seem to drag on for quite a bit longer than I expected. With that said, it does have some nice aspects like the cool guitar solo and Jolin sounding great during the verses. Unfortunately, it comes off as your standard C-Pop ballad. Just not as catchy.

I really don’t like Good-Bye that much. It does give us something a little more midtempo, but there are some really weird aspects to it. The gospel chorus just doesn’t work well here and the melody is quite weak and at times, a bit annoying. The melody is just very sloppy and Jolin’s voice does not sound very pleasant during the choruses. Probably the weakest song.

Ending the album on a slower note, we have Emptiness. I really love the verses to this song because they are much darker than anything else on the album. The song itself is pretty much your standard C-Pop ballad, but at least this one is done much better. The sweeping strings really give the song a bit of life and I enjoy the odd synth refrain that comes into the song during the instrumental break. The melody is much stronger on this song and is a little more streamlined. It’s catchier. I do feel like it has the backing to really become a powerhouse song, but it tends to keep to a pretty moderate level.

A bonus track was included on the CD edition, which is a cover of Bette Midler’s The Rose. It’s basically a more ‘pop’ rendition of the song and unlike the other covers, it is sung in English. Jolin’s English is decent and she does get through most of the song pretty well. So many people cover this song and while I do enjoy the music to this, I don’t think Jolin’s vocals do it much justice. It’s a bit naive sounding, but her vocals just really capture the emotion in it.My major issue with the song though comes with this weird rap that just decides to bust itself in around the three minute mark. It really disrupts the song because there is a key change and it just sounds so out of place. Really really weird.


Overall: This one of the weakest albums that I have ever listened to. I really like Jolin and her music later on is much stronger, but I was really hoping for something a little better than this. A lot of the songs are your standard C-Pop sounding tunes, especially the ballads, but they neither have the vocals or anything interesting in the arrangement to help them stand out. A lot of these songs were really forgettable and very basic. There were a few decent tracks, but there wasn’t one that I would really come back to.

C-