If you ask me, Wei is like the residential nice guy on the scene, at first a newbie with a lot of talent, but not really seeming like a breakout artist in the music scene. But he has an almost lethal weapon that has brought him critical acclaim and success ever since his debut, making people, even the likes of one of the largest successes in the music industry, David Tao, take notice of him. What would that be, one might ask? And I have to say, it’s his niceness. To elaborate further, I feel that it is his genuine love for music, and the honest, feel-good vibe that he has going for him that has won him the admiration of many a fan, and not to mention the Best Newcomer Award at the 2011 Golden Melody Awards.
Before I was introduced to Wei’s music, I had no idea that Folk Rock could be transformed in the way that he transformed it. I didn’t know how much I would love it, or how happy it would make me until I heard him sing, and that was enough for me to gain interest not only in the genre, but in Wei as an artist. It’s hard to imagine how large an impact an unassuming nice guy such as Wei could make, with just a friendly smile and his acoustic guitar, but a single song could change even the meanest cynics’ opinion. In the midst of the Yen-J vs William Wei debate for the 2010 winner of the prestigious newcomer award at the Golden Melody’s, I as a Yen-J fan and having never heard Wei’s music before was slightly miffed when he won. On an impulse, I bought the album and I have to say, he had me entranced from the word go. From the first sentence of the first song <我没有> , “Turn off the radio” it was like he had cast a spell on me, the melancholy soulfulness of his voice being unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was a little like déjà vu hearing that song, as if I had heard it in my dreams. Through this simple melody and arrangement, I feel that Wei has captured a sliver of pure, unadulterated human emotion with a superhuman precision that is rare even within the most talented artists.
I think he really gets what it’s all about. Music is about touching people, spreading a message. It is altruistic, and a reflection of each performer’s innermost thoughts that can be transferred to others. Unfortunately, a lot of people forget this in today’s music industry, but not Wei. He knows it, and never takes music for granted. Every single song he puts out is done with love and care, coaxing each melody as a nice guy would, making it talk to him, and he to it. The way that he communicates and understands music is a phenomenal skill, making each and every piece a unique reminder to himself and to his listeners of who he is and what he’s set out to do.
But while his songs urge us to find ourselves in more ways than one, his voice as the glue holding it all together is comforting, yet motivating at the same time. The genuine honesty with which he sings all his lyrics,that little bit of humor and that ever-present warmth gives listeners such as myself so much happiness and comfort.
Wei is an outstanding singer that reaches out past the microphone and past the recording studio into the hearts and minds of listeners; his genuine love and passion for music is an inspiration to listeners everywhere and I have absolutely no doubt that he will go far as an artist and performer.
Yen-J keeps one thing in mind whenever he is in the studio making his music; and that is to “kill it with creativity”, and that he does. He is a true pioneer in the Taiwanese music industry, being the first mainstream artist to push out his own brand of jazz-pop fusion which has helped him to rise to the top of the charts with his unique arrangements and his constantly refreshing ideals. For me, his appearance on the music scene in 2010 was so instrumental that it lead to people becoming more accepting of Jazz as a mainstream music genre. With the backing of superstars such as Wang Leehom and Xiao S, his debut became a kind of catalyst for other artists to express their interest in Jazz music including the likes of Jam Hsiao, Yoga Lin and Gary Chaw who each subsequently released their own jazz cover albums. Coincidence? Maybe, but either way, his creativity as an artist is his biggest selling point.
I have never seen an artist who could make his song rise to the top of the charts by using the sound of a sneeze in a hip-hop remix, but yet Yen-J pulls it off finely and with aplomb, as he does with each and every one of his songs. For him, the world is his stage and he doesn’t limit himself to one genre, one instrument, one signature sound. For me, the signature sound of Yen-J’s music is creativity. He’s risen above the rest to bring us music that truly shows who he is as a person, an artist, and a musician. In the short span of four albums that he’s released to date, he has tried many genres that some artists only even dare to try their hand at after gaining acclaim with a bunch of love songs or one specific genre that they are familiar with. Hip hop, rap, jazz, pop, folk, rock, RnB, you name it, Yen-J’s done it. As an incredibly versatile artist, the only flaw I would say he has in his vocals which could do with some work, but his creativity and dedication as well as his skill more than makes up for it.
The guy has a vision; he knows what he wants from every single song and nurtures its creativity, creating all kinds of weird and wonderful fusions of song genres which when coupled with his catchy melodies, are a true pleasure to listen to. Each and every song is a piece of art; no repetition, each a unique gem in itself, bursting with innovation and hard, precise work.
This post is probably going to be a short one, but I just have to give props to Rachel Liang for being the most consistent singer that I have ever seen. And we are talking to the point of her voice being unchangingly spectacular every time you hear it. I don’t know how she does it, but this girl never produces a performance that won’t make her fans proud.
Rachel once likened her role as a singer to ‘colouring’ in an image and adding vibrancy and emotion to it, and that she does successfully. Labelled as the ‘ballad princess’, those impossibly high notes never faze her, as she injects the same amount of love and emotion with calculated precision into each of her songs every single time.
Failure is never an option for Rachel; whose tingling high vocals are the star of any show, never eluded or hidden by the arrangement no matter how messed up. Her voice gives her and her music a strong sense of direction, and is always confident in leading every song with a confidence that you can’t resist.
Amidst all the gossip within the Chinese music industry, Gary seems to be the most popular target and has previously been labelled by the media as the resident bad boy, especially due to his brawl with friend Justin Lo a few years back, and also with his drunken outburst at the riverside bar and café earlier this year. But Gary has been my idol since I first started listening to Chinese music 7 years ago, and I’m not about to give up on him just yet. Throughout the ups and downs, I applaud Gary for his honesty throughout the years.
After the infamous brawl, Gary did not shy away from it, but instead took the situation head on and explained himself in a press conference almost immediately after it hit the news. Gary has always had an honest relationship with his fans as I see it, and has always been the first one to apologise when he knows he is in the wrong.
One of my favourite quotes from his song <你的歌 Your Song> sums up nicely how honest he is:
and his sensitive honesty has won him many a fan in the years past.
Chaw even reflects his honesty through his music 100%; although some albums may have been better than others, I appreciate and can feel the heart and soul that he put into each of his songs, with earnestness and the pure intention of making others happy. I can never say that I’ve ever heard a song by him that didn’t touch me in one way or another; they don’t call him "悲歌王" for nothing. Each of his songs is an honest, unabashed reflection and collection of his life stories; each one of them full of purely human emotion. Gary reminds his fans that he is human just like everyone else and he does this through his music too, reflecting on crippling loneliness, sadness, love and life all with his ability to reflect on the human psyche.
His honesty influences my life everyday, in every single way. Because of him, I learnt to be honest not only with others, but with myself. I learnt to face situations head-on when I would have otherwise cowered and ran from it. Despite his bad habits, Gary is still the artist who inspires me most of all; his stories, his music and his words have given me so much encouragement and strength in my daily endeavours. Gary may have his demons, those past and present, but I believe it is his attitude pertaining to honesty which has got him this far and will continue to be the foundation of his success in the future.
Anthony Neely is one of the most outstanding artists that I know, mainly for the precision with which he makes his music. He gets a good idea, pinpoints exactly where he wants to go with each song and follows through 100% to get the best possible results. Many just see him as a pretty face, but beyond that pretty face is a person who really knows what he’s doing. Like a sniper, he focuses on his target, aims and with one shot, creates a tremendous impact on each of his listeners.
His albums, each of them are ranked highly in my favourite albums list and he really does fulfil each and every target that he sets for himself. For his second album <Wake Up>, he expressed that he wished for listeners to be able to pick up something new about each song every time they listen to it, and wanted it to be a timeless album that could be listened to for years to come. And I have to say, I have listened to that album without ever tiring of it regularly since I got my hot little hands on it. And each and every time, I am in awe and so proud of what he has achieved, because that album is just the epitome of perfection for me. The emotional capabilities of this man’s voice are not to be underestimated, nor should his lyrical abilities.
Although he has been in Taiwan for a few years, he has still been able to contribute self-penned lyrics as well as melodies to the album without any compromise at all in quality, which is amazing, considering the before and after picture of his language abilities.
Each song has a perfect story behind it, arrangements that completely complement the lyrics , and of course his voice which could make your ‘feels’ meter go through the roof every single time without fail. Of course we have to leave some credit to the lyricists and producers whom he’s worked with, namely best friend Will Peng, Skot Suyama and 陈信廷 to name a few. But it is his ability of foresight and precision I feel that has made him so successful. If it was any other artist that tried to make their fans send in videos of themselves singing, I don’t think they would be able to pull it off with such conviction to the extent of receiving 800-900 entries.
So if you haven’t listened to his music before, don’t be a tool and click over it on youtube, listen to it! Who knows, maybe you’ll find something special!
#01 Hebe Tien
#02 Elva Hsiao
#03 Wang Lee Hom
#04 Lara Veronin
#05 Anthony Neely
#06 Gary Chaw
#07 Rachel Liang
#08 Yen J
#09 William Wei
#10 David Tao
#11 Kimberley Chen
#12 Peggy Hsu
#13 Magic Power