she scores high in my "sonic checklist"... my only worry being that she is too "big" for sentimental ballads. she needs to subdue her power and dynamism and channel it into other departments like tenderness, sensitivity and delicacy.
bondy chiu hock-e strikes again! the follow-up to her successful debut "listen", this time it is called "listen, listen" will be out in late september!
i am certainly impressed with ms.chiu's fast-paced production. it shows that with money and dedication, one can churn out album after album... unlike yours truly who is still struggling with 2v1g's sophomore album :-(
the special edition of the album was on sale during this month's AV show in hong kong. this time bondy sings in mandarin.
hot and happening pop singers doing cover versions has so much more impact than unknown audiophile singers doing cover versions. to the new generation growing up on the internet and facebook, they just treat the songs as new songs and they can start discovering how the originals sound like. (i actually read one comment in the youtube on khalil's "red bean" asking who faye wong is!) it is really good for the industry.
so, is khalil's new album good? this is a difficult question to answer.
to a large extent, this is an entertaining and easy-listening album worth keeping with moments of brilliance. on the other hand, it falls short of what i expected of cover versions, especially on "big" songs like eric clapton's "wonderful tonight" and andy williams'"moon river".
true, khalil is extremely talented and his arrangement is, by and large, quite brilliant. i especially like "nothing gonna change my love for you", "kuang chao" 【狂潮】(by the biggest TVB's comeback queen susanna kwan， 【关菊英】 ) and "la bamba". these songs are fresh and well arranged. "la bamba" is really cool with its jazzy inclinations.
i am neutral on songs like "red bean", "georgia on my mind". i find khalil's r&b rhythm and bass lines too annoying and distracting, robbing all the attention away from the melody.
i totally don't like "wonderful tonight" and "bad" because the songs are bigger than khalil and there's not much he can do; not his fault at all.
taken all into account, this is a mixed bag. i find that after spinning a few rounds, i skip the rest and only listen to "nothing gonna change my love for you" and "kuang chao".
to me "kuang chao" tops it all as the best song of the album. this TVB theme song by susanna kwan is revived with so much freshness but keeping the arrangement retro and nostalgic (think RTM's orchestra in the 80s!) with clever introduction of harmonization and beautiful chords.
i have to admit that khalil is a much better english-languange pop singer than many chinese singers in the market today.
this ranks as one of the better cover version albums by a "hot" pop singer, alongside stefanie sun's "start".
i always have my regular survey on the music industry by visiting record shops...
andy, the store manager of victoria music, atria, confessed to me about the tough times facing the music retail market. there are no definite best-sellers in today's market - they just sell whatever that is saleable. they become opportunistic. a case in point, khalil fong was nobody 2 years ago. his records were untouched on the shelf. look at him now, warner malaysia actually released his latest cd on the same day as taiwan and hong kong! that i call opportunistic.
today the average sales of an album is 300 copies, mind you, that's nationwide figures! we are talking about first-tier artistes like jacky cheung, joey yeung and eason chan, and not some newbie or wannabes. ok, idol singers like jay chou and wang lee hom may command more but even then, they would not surpass the 5,000 mark. local chinese artistes are even more pathetic. in fact, andy commented that you will sell more if you sell thru your own channels, i.e. via your friends and relatives!
on the contrary, audiophile cds command steady sales. susan wong's (HK audiophile queen) debut sold over 3,000 copies and all her subsequent albums were in the sub 1,000 mark. quite respectable figure if you ask me. and the best thing is, audiophile albums don't have shelf life; they last longer than a tortoise! perpetual audiophile favorites like cai qin, eva cassidy, stacey kent, emi fujita get repeat orders every month.
andy observes that more and more commercial artistes like jacky cheung and khalil fong are already eyeing on the audiophile market as evidenced by the cover versions they do in their albums. as to whether the recording quality reaches the audiophile standards, i really don't think so.
as a result of fast declining sales figures, today's commercial pop artistes don't depend on album sales anymore; they produce an album more for their own portfolio, more like a name card, a resume to solicit more gigs, concerts, commercials and other sources of revenue. this also means that the album needs not be good anymore, that explains why the majority of the new album in the market (especially chinese pop) are forgettable trash that doesn't worth more than a glance.
andy commented that locally, the malay pop market elicits the biggest sales but unfortunately they can't go beyond malaysia.
against such miserable backdrop, andy lamented that he doesn't see himself quitting the retail industry any sooner but one thing for sure, his passion for the business is not there anymore.
just an update, my partner would like to take over the musictoxin blog, so there will still be updates for the blog.... i urge you to continue your support for musictoxin!
yes, we have shortlisted our chosen vocalist for the english audiophile album project!
she has expressed great interest in what we are doing and we will be meeting her to discuss in details on thursday... no, we are not jumping the gun, we have great anticipation that it would be a great partnership....
we have tentatively called this project "songs for heartbreak"for reasons only known to me... :-)
recording will be done in our new tutti studio using the state-of-the-art neve console board and top-line stage III concepts cables, AKG C12VR microphone plus high-end power conditioner.... equipment wise, it is a stellar line-up!
one night while listening to selena jones' singing "still" (a lionel richie classic), i conceived another idea to produce a totally refreshing english audiophile album with a female voice.
as usual, i want to do it differently, especially on song selections. there are just too many "over the rainbow", "fly me to the moon", "the look of love" etc etc, songs that are played to death by audiophile female singers.
if i were to produce a audiophile female voice, i would definitely avoid the above mentioned classics. instead, i would choose some fresh songs that i cherish for the last 2 decades. songs like "just once" (quincy jones), "love so right" (bee gees, and i would do it like what david foster did for michael buble in "how do you mend a broken heart)... there are just too many that the ordinary audiophile producers and female vocalists won't touch.
but the greatest problem is finding the right female vocalist in malaysia. you know what's happening in philipines? the so-called audiophile labels are making tones of female voices cd by hiring 2nd-grade singers from the lounges, karaokes and what have you and dress them up with different names. the price of this kind of cd in philipines is only RM20. they are a dime a dozen; absolutely no quality control.
but for me, my female vocalist must be real good. definitely no wedding singers or pub singers. i am looking for someone semi-established who needs that extra dimension in her career. i have consulted a few industry people and they offered me names like atilia, elvira arul and ida mariana, all good singers in their own right. i am going to call them one by one and see if they are interested.
if it happens, you are going to get a real treat from pop pop music. you bet i won't produce another "over the rainbow". :-)
anything from khalil fong is worth anticipating, what's more a cover version album! who says it is shameful of singer-songwriters do cover versions? i never think so.
khalil will be covering songs like red bean (faye wong), wonderful tonight (eric clapton), you are the sunshine of my life, moonriver.....
khalil was inspired by these songs when he was still a kid. now that he is an accomplished singer/musician, he feels that the time is ripe to pay tribute to all his favourite singers and their music. like khalil, the music lover in me always want to re-produce classic songs in my own way, that's why i love producing audiophile albums which deals mainly with cover versions.
musically speaking, the past 3 months has been really disappointing. truth be told, i am still listening to debbie hsiao's "stay", it remains my fave album of 2009.
the bunch of cds i bought from taiwan are all disappointing.
starting with valen hsu (ru yun). what a voice without a good producer! her latest album is plain and boring, typical of many of today's taiwanese mainstream productions. her decision to go all ballads is appreciated but her ballads are just too formulaic and lacking of ideas. after one spin, you would gladly put this cd away, it is that pathetic.
second major disappointment is janice vidal's "morning", produced by copycat mark lui. many have expected janice to re-produce another gem like her debut "day & night", sorry that's almost impossible. mark lui exercises his plagiarism skills to the extreme in this album. all the songs are familiar tunes in certain parts, with many chord progressions copied from many popular english pop tunes. mark lui must have thought all the listeners are idiots not to recongnize it! listen to the song "pretty" and you would understand why i mean.
there's a serious threat to cd as a favourite format in many parts of the world, including taiwan. sales are down and record shops are closing. the best cd shop in taiwan is jiajia, which carries almost all genres of music, including classical and audiophile. it was to my delight that i found 2v1g and zee avi on the testing racks!
no one really knows where the music format is heading, when cd is strugging to survive. some high-end audiophile labels like chesky records are already producing high-definition downloads but those are boring audiophile music.
locally, many record shops and music labels are reporting all-time-low sales figures, indicating that music lovers are not buying cds as often as before. michael jackson's case is an exception; it was just a transient effect.
also, local artistes have been complaining about the lack of gigs in kuala lumpur for the first half of the year... many artistes are now struggling to even get a steady income.
it has been a bleak first-half of 2009 for music. let's hope the pace picks up in the 2nd half.
thanks for coming to pop pop music, this will be our new label and new blog!