Friday, December 28, 2012

Jay Chou's 12th Album: OPUS 12 十二新作

The next Jay Chou merchandise to be added to my collection is his 12th album entitled “Opus 12” which was supposed to be released on December 28, 2012 on but the release date has recently been postponed to January 4, 2013. Since I’m a devoted fan, the wait is totally worth it! A very nice thing Jay is going to do for his fans is to release all of his 12 new songs on the radio before the official release of the album so that everyone can be able to listen to them first. I have already listened to all 12 samples of the songs and I have to say that I’m quite impressed with album. Every single song in the album suits my tastes just perfectly. I’m also glad that Jay have persisted with including at least one zhong guo feng (Chinese style) song in each of his albums. The first zhong guo feng which has already been released on the radio a few weeks ago is called “红尘客栈”or “Red Dust Inn“ which will be included in this upcoming album. In the music video, I really like his intensive use of Chinese instruments, such as the erhu, combined with R&B and a bit of other Western elements because it makes the song sound really beautiful. He just knows how to mix the music well with different instruments. That’s because he’s Jay Chou. Here is the official music video of “Red Dust Inn”. The MV is really sad like most of his other zhong guo feng MVs, but nevertheless, it’s really touching and worth the watch!

Another zhong guo feng song which will also be included in his upcoming album is called "公公偏头痛" or
“Enunch With A Headache” which is a hip hop song combined with Chinese instruments. The MV was officially released a few days ago with a lot of positive feedback from fans. Notice that the zombies in the MV are supposed to belong to the Qing Dynasty and not the time period shown in the MV but Jay did that on purpose to make it more fun and creative. The storyline is very humorous and may be difficult to understand at first look but after watching the MV a couple more times, I believe that you will start to get the gist of it. The story actually talks about a corrupted enunch in the palace who pretends to be good and honest whenever the emperor is around but the truth is that he steals and lies behind the emperor’s back.
       Another special fact to know is that Jay actually choreographed some of the dance such as the shoulder up and down part.


The first ballad song Jay released is called “明明就" or “Obviously”. The melody sounds really beautiful. At first, I really thought the MV was filmed in San Francisco, California because the bridge shown in the MV bears a striking resemblance to the Golden Gate Bridge but further research proved I was wrong. Parts of the MV was actually filmed at Scotland. Notice that Jay’s hair is dyed blond which I find to be very cool. I was surprised when I first saw him with the blond hair because I haven’t expected him to dye his hair. The last time I saw him with blond hair was the year he released “Ye Hui Mei” album which was way back. It’s definitely a huge change from Jay and I’m expecting more of his surprises coming our way.

Another MV that was also released a few days ago was "大本钟" or “Big Ben”. I thought this song sounds different from Jay’s style of music but it’s great to hear something new. The MV features Lara, who plays the female lead. It’s great to see her again in the same MV with Jay ever since “Coral Sea”. Here is "Big Ben" MV:

Lara is also featured in another of Jay’s newest MV called "比较大的大提琴" or
“Big Cello” along with Gary Yang. I really enjoyed watching this MV because Jay’s choreography is definitely moving at another level. His dancing is getting more and more sharp than ever! The MV is not officially released on JVR Music yet but here is the fan cam of the MV that Jay had shown at the press conference yesterday. It’s very DIAO!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

My first Western Concert- Barry Manilow

Growing up, I have never really taken any interest in anything that is Western-related such as Western movies or music even though I was born in America. The things I only found interesting is if it’s Asian-related. I guess the reason why I’m Asianized is because I grew up being surrounded mostly with Chinese movies, dramas, and music which my parents would watch and listen at home. However, thanks to a friend, my view towards Western media has recently changed as I started to become interested in Western music. It’s good to try something that you were never really interested in because you might end up liking it. My interest in Western music initially sparked from a blog post my friend had written about in which she talked about Barry Manilow, a legendary American singer who was really famous back in the 1970’s, when I didn’t even exist yet. She had talked about how one of Barry’s song “Somewhere Down the Road” was very memorable to her. Like always, curiosity got the better of me so I decided to google up this guy and tried listening to a few of his songs on Itunes. I find his songs to be very romantic, something that would remind someone of their first love. My personal favorites are his hit songs, “Can’t Smile Without You”, “Copacabana” and “Somewhere Down The Road”.
When I heard Barry Manilow is going to come perform at my hometown, I decided to give it a try since I wanted to learn more about who this legendary singer is and also on behalf of my friend who was not able to make it to the concert. On the day of Barry’s concert which was held at HP Pavilion, San Jose on December 6, 2012, when my dad and I arrived at the HP Pavilion an hour before the concert started, the line was already formed with a lot of people from the older generation. I was probably one of the youngest fans there. Well, you’re never too young to listen to Barry Manilow, right? Age difference doesn’t really matter; what matters is doing whatever makes you happy. They were selling Barry Manilow merchandises: CDS, T-shirts, etc. I would’ve bought something if the line wasn’t so long. Also, they were selling green glowsticks which I find interesting since glowsticks were very unusual at a Western concert. I wonder why Barry chose green; maybe it was to match the Christmas theme?
The stage was covered up with a red curtain which reminded me a Broadway play. When the concert officially started, the curtain opened up with Barry Manilow appearing in the spotlight; everybody was screaming, cheering, and throwing love out to him. I was touched by how many people of the older generation is still a fan of him after all those years. I don’t recall what Barry’s opening song was but I remembered it was a very romantic song. He first appeared in a red suit which goes along with the color of the curtain and the green glowsticks. Ha, I guess I was right about the Christmas theme.
One of my favorite songs from Barry is “Can’t Smile Without You” which he has performed at the concert. This was actually one of his top hits from back in the days and is still famous as of today. Almost everyone was familiar with this song since they were singing along to it, including me! The song brought a smile to my face when a happy face appeared on the screen during the performance. I liked how Barry said that he likes to make positive and uplifting songs to lift up people’s spirits since he thinks life sucks and it really does. He was full of energy and enthusiasm and was able to interact well with his fans. If I didn’t know he is 69 years old, I would think he is in his 50s since he still looked very handsome as of today. Another thing I liked was how he cracked some jokes to make the audience laugh. The one that really got me was when he said he was the Justin Bieber of the 70’s which I have to agree with him on. Here is a performance of "Can't Smile Without You". Look at all the green glowsticks!

Another one of his hit singles I liked was “Copacabana” which was the cha-cha dancing song. Everybody became more livelier when he performed this song. Here's a fancam of "Copacabana":

There were a few songs he played on the piano and on the keyboards such as "Weekend In New ngland", “Trying to get the feeling”, “I’m your child”, and “Mandy”, which were also his top hits. He played all the songs very beautifully and smoothly. Here is a fancam of his performance of "Weekend In New England" at HP pavilion:

The part that was very enjoyable to watch was the part where he and his band took turns playing the piano, rotating after one another. When he played “Mandy” on the grand piano, at the same time, a video clip was shown on the screen of him performing the song back in 1975 during one of his concerts. I thought he looked really handsome back then with the long hair and his prominent, sharp nose. With his good looks, I bet a lot of fan girls fell for him. If I existed during the 1970s, I would probably went crazy over him too.
Another interesting thing was when Barry showed us some of his previous album covers on the screen. The first album cover showed a picture of him in his 20s when he first debuted. It was hilarious when he said a lot of people thought he looked like Mona Lisa in the picture. Another thing Barry talked about was how his grandfather was the one who had made him into a musician. It was his grandfather who first saw music in him. In dedication of his grandfather, he played a song on his piano with a picture of him and his grandpa shown on the screen. Some people are just born talented; I wish I had that kind of talent too.
A very nice thing Barry did was starting a charity to help music schools to get more instruments. He told us that if we have any instruments we don’t use anymore which is lying at home and collecting dust, then we should do a good cause by donating them to his charity club. This reminds me, I have my older keyboard lying at home which I will probably donate later on. Overall, the concert was very satisfying. Although the concert lasted for only an hour and a half, which was shorter than expected, it was still a very satisfying experience. I have to admit that I have learned quite a lot of Barry Manilow now than before I attended the concert. The next time he comes back, I would be very likely to go again!