SINGAPORE - A good cover song should bring new life to the original tune. The Straits Times finds out how 10 Chinese works that have been given a fresh spin measure up to the originals.
The songs are available on music streaming platforms such as KKBox, Spotify and Apple Music.
YOUR NAME ENGRAVED HEREIN
Since Crowd Lu's Your Name Engraved Herein was released in August 2020, several artistes, such as his fellow Taiwanese singers Weibird Wei, Eric Chou, Jolin Tsai and Hebe Tien - as well as amateurs with a YouTube channel - have covered it.
One of the most touching renditions comes from Singapore-based singer-songwriter Isaac Yong, who captures the song's sense of melancholy and helplessness accompanied by just a guitar.
This EP of cover songs by Taiwanese singer Jia Jia gives a new soul to many classic songs with its less-is-more instrumentation.
Mayday's angsty rock number People Life, Ocean Wild is stripped down to a chill track backed by electric basses and shakers; while A-mei's electronic-heavy Summer Wave is now accompanied by percussions and piano.
BACK SEAT THEATER
On his album Back Seat Theater, Chinese singer Jackson Yee brings his trademark broodiness to old songs.
Teresa Teng's Proverbs Of Love is now a moody ballad but retains its original charm, while there is a dark edge to the catchy Allen Lin dance classic Love Birds.
The original version of the ballad Personal Angel by Tank was the ending theme song of Taiwanese idol drama Hanazakarino Kimitachihe (2006 to 2007), which is set in a school in Taiwan.
In time for Christmas last month, Taiwanese singer Chang Ruo-fan released an urban R&B rendition, replete with Yuletide chimes and accompanied by a music video mostly filmed around a pretty Christmas tree.
In this EP, Chinese singer Chen Chusheng covers five iconic songs from the late 1980s to 1990s - Andy Lau's Afterlife Love, Jacky Cheung's Goodbye Kiss, Faye Wong's Chess, Beyond's Cold Rainy Night and Angus Tung's Can't Forget.
Alas, he sings them all in the same bland style. What a yawn.
THE AFFECTATION OF LOVE
Over the last 25 years, Malaysian songwriter-producer Percy Phang has written many radio-friendly tunes for other singers, such as Gigi Leung's Love Turns Out To Be Hurting So Much, Yoga Lin's Admirer and Victor Wong's Meander.
In the album The Affectation Of Love, he sings his own versions of these songs. A standout is his dramatic cover of Leung's ballad, which now has a new title Love Hurts and lush instrumentation.
GIRL TOLD ME
This is one cover song that outshines the original. With her soft, honeyed delivery, Taiwanese singer Arrow Wei makes Singapore singer Huang Yida's original song sound wooden and stilted. It has a gorgeous and romantic music video to boot.
8. DANCE / POP
Australian singer Tones And I's 2019 electro-pop English number Dance Monkey was given a disco remake last year by Taiwanese singer Jam Hsiao, who added dollops of 1980s synthesiser sounds.
The pumped-up Mandarin versionis bound to get you on your feet and your hands in the air.
SORRY IF I HURT YOU
Malaysian singer Meer Nash's new song is a Mandarin cover of the Malay song Peluang Kedua by Nabila Razali.
Meer Nash, whose real name is Muhamad Shahmeer Mohd Nashrul, has a Malay father and a Chinese mother, and is proficient in Malay, Mandarin and Hokkien.
But his version fails to capture the emotional oomph of the original song.
10. RETRO POP
WHO CAN UNDERSTAND ME
Included in Hong Kong Heavenly King Andy Lau's album, Act • Sing, which was released last month, are a handful of Cantopop covers.
One of them is George Lam's Who Can Understand Me, which is about chasing one's ideals.
Lau's rich baritone gives the song a more full-bodied, rousing feel, and his version is the ending theme song of the Hong Kong movie Find Your Voice (2020), where he plays a conductor leading a student choir.