GOLDEN MELODY AWARDS NOMINEES
The nominees for Best Male Mandarin Vocalist for this year's Golden Melody Awards are a diverse bunch.
They are Hong Kong-born veteran Wakin Chau for The Younger Me; formerly New York-based J.Sheon for the R&B-and hip-hop drenched The Alley; Taiwanese singer-songwriter Ayal Komod for Gone Away; Malaysia's Namewee for Calling Asia; acclaimed band sodagreen's frontman Wu Ching-feng for his solo debut Spaceman; and Chinese newcomer Jude's Flee From The Ceremony.
The winner will be announced on Oct 3.
In this follow-up EP to his album I Am Ayal Komod (2013) - which won the Golden Melody Award for Best Mandarin Album - the Taiwanese aboriginal singer, also known as Chang Chen-yue, explores the theme of departure.
On the number Absolutely, he asks and answers: "Where am I going/As long as I can leave."
And he sings on the title track: "Gone away/Leaving is not easy/To give up completely is not easy/Was it simple for you?"
The sentiment may be bleak, but the mood is lifted by the music and the varied arrangements over the five songs, from the electropop of Absolutely to the lightly jazzy Never Forgotten About Her.
He sings poignantly on the guitar-accompanied Greed: "After making mistakes and hurting people, do I know to examine myself/I think my problem is I'm too greedy."
Older, wiser and as compelling as ever.
Calling Asia is the seventh studio album by Malaysian singer-songwriter Namewee and it is all over the map.
It goes from topical tracks such as 10-Year Challenge, which is inspired by the viral online challenge of posting photos taken a decade apart, to more conventional ballads such as Love You And Also Love Her.
His cheeky side is on display in JioJioMe, which merrily mixes Mandarin, English and Hokkien. The phrase "bojio" is used colloquially to express disappointment that one was not asked to go along for some activity.
But the cutesiness gets cringey on the English number about the zodiac cycle, Piggy Piggy: "Rooster's crowing good morning/Dog's pee pee on the street/Pig's still sleeping."
FLEE FROM THE CEREMONY
This Chinese singer-songwriter is so far under the radar, it is not entirely clear whether he goes by Jude, Chiu or Jude Chiu. (His Chinese moniker Qiu De is the Sinicised version of Jude.)
What is more important is that the 26-year-old has come up with a playful debut album brimming with ideas and surprises. There is a sense of vaudeville about the animatedly orchestrated title track and one can almost imagine it as the soundtrack to a black-and-white madcap slapstick clip.
He sings with dramatic flair about an awards ceremony: "Taking part in the competitive game/Happy to be nominated/Don't shock me with an unexpected ending."
He is no one-trick pony, though, and navigates different genres with aplomb.
Hokkaido Lovers paints a wintry scene of parting in English: "(Before) breaking up, shall we stay in Hokkaido/freezing up the sentences I will be told."
Meanwhile, Younger Brother is a breezy romp of a character study: "Blame me for being incapable, don't have cells which act cool/Not good with the opposite sex."
Whatever happens at the awards, one thing is clear: He is no longer Jude the obscure.
BAYBEATS ONLINE 2020
The annual local indie music festival has been postponed to Nov 6 to 8 because of the pandemic, but an online version took place over the past weekend - the original dates for the event.
Check out the clips on the Esplanade's website, which include an unplugged performance by singer-songwriter Charlie Lim and a gig by progressive rockers Anechois, part of the line-up for Chapalang Sessions.
WATCH IT AT: esplanade.com/offstage/art