2010 is the year Hebe began a solo career out of S.H.E. as 田馥甄, and the year a veritable goddess arrived in the music world 😛 So naturally, I have to feature a track from her first solo album, To Hebe.
The boppy S.H.E. tunes I grew up with were only going to take me so far into adulthood, but when Hebe evolved into 田馥甄, she managed to walk with me into the next phase of life. In many ways, watching her career, her agency and creative choices unfold into discographies year after year allows me to earmark my own seasons. What I’ve always loved most about her is her commitment to a vision of her self in her art, and the patience she has on the journey to getting there. And even on the way, every version of her self she presents is honest and true, even if it’s forged out of a series of industry compromises. I respect this.
思念太猖狂 一個冷不防 these thoughts are too reckless, i didn’t expect it
一想起你 忙碌的生活變得空蕩蕩 if i think of you, this busy life feels empty
對心事說謊 把你想到多麼的不堪 i lie to my thoughts, remember you as the worst
偉大的你還想我怎樣 what more do you want from me
Soft Lipa 蛋堡 is one of the few Chinese rappers from the pre-2010s who preferred to straddle a strong sense of musicality and soft verses is known as the best jazz rapper in the music scene. Also known as a rap poet, 蛋堡 specializes in rapping extensively around the mundane and the everyday, usually with a soulful, reflexive, lyrical approach.
A rapper like Soft Lipa doesn’t get a lot of attention from a Chinese mainstream, nor does his performances “hold up” against the glitz and glam, or performed masculinity of many mainstream rappers. But Soft Lipa brings a strong sense of self, a conviction about what hip-hop is, and a clarity of thought to his music that many other performers never do. His performances feel interested in speaking directly from a place of self to the world, regardless of who’s listening. To his eternally loyal followers, that’s all they need.
he wanted to skip the current life, and never imagined he would become nostalgic
他很在乎承諾 沒想過多年後 沒比較多連絡
he was adamant about promises but didn’t know that years after there wouldn’t be more contact
他還不能看透 心裡的妒火 在多年後都只是路過
he hasn’t yet recognized that jealousy will all become part of the journey
他還沒法掙脫 懂的詞不多 沒法去對誰訴說
he hasn’t found out how to be free, he doesn’t know that many words, has no one to say them to
he wanted to forge a mature sample but didn’t realize he would miss his rose-coloured glasses.
This was the year the Korean mainstream music scene bloomed, which coincided with the world discovering the talent of IU. Looking through the charts, I feel excitement over every single pop, ballad, and rock that marked my high school days, which if you click play all, I could probably sing-a-long to every single one of them.
My pick for 2010 will always be 뜨거운감자 Hot Potato’s beautiful album. This was the year the duo was at its peak with its title song bringing them more public attraction. The two songs below are also by duos—a hip hop and a folk—and you could also argue that these songs are important markers of these artists’ career.
Supreme Team & 영준 Young Joon of Brown Eyed Soul – 그땐 그땐 그땐
An example of prime Korean hip hop days when Simon Dominic and E-Sens were booming in career (and still together). Their powerful rap collaborates well with Young Joon’s vocal, which are often for ballads and R&B. The fast-paced beat adds urgency and plea at the love that seemed so everlasting, but the love that betrayed, and the love that continues to break us.
내가 잘못했어 그 지겨운 말 “i’m sorry”, such tedious words
억지로 널 붙잡고 흐느껴온 날 that day when i forced myself to hold you and weep
내 진심을 다 알아버렸어 i realized my truth
그런 순간들을 모면하는 법까지 연기일 수 밖에 avoiding moments like those is probably an act
물론 넌 그런 나를 알고 있었기에 of course you already knew that i would be like that
얼굴 붉히는 일 없이 더 이상 no more things to make me angry
기회는 없을 거라고 단정하며 concluding we have no more chance
오히려 차분하게 날 떠났어 you left me rather calmly
나를 녹여주던 너의 그 눈물도 your tears that used to melt me
이젠 내 맘을 얼게 하네 now freeze my heart
빛을 담고 있던 너의 그 미소도 your smile that held so much light
졸린 내 눈에 가리워 지네 now obscured by my sleepy eyes
Just like Leessang in 2013, many early Korean hip hop artists mixed melancholic and heartbreaking lyrics into their songs—taking the sentiments of ballads into the more direct tone of rap. This approach, musically, balances out the aggressive pompous tone of rap, which touches on an intimate sensibility that I really love. I think I’m always going back to old school hip hop (and Supreme Team is one of my favourites) because so many male rappers nowadays are elevating that “masculine” performance as desirable and necessary in hip hop.
옥상달빛 Okdal – 하드코어 인생어 Hardcore Life
A love letter to the days we’ve felt the lowest, 박세진 Park Sejin and 김윤주 Kim Yoon Ju of Okdal debuts with an album full of honest vulnerability that deeply touches our heart. This song is one of my favourites, dedicated to those times we all have gone through. The softness of their voice echoing along the slow piano melody and simple drum beats immediately creates calmness—as if a moment of absolute surrender but a realization that we still have to move on. The 2:17 mark when the melodica kicks in, tranquility enters, like a consolation.
뭐가 의미 있나 뭐가 중요하나 정해진 길로 가는데 what is meaningful, what is important, when i’m walking on a set path
축 쳐진 내 어깨 위에 나의 눈물샘 위에 on top of my slumped shoulders, on top of my teardrops
그냥 살아야지 저냥 살아야지 i’m just living, trying to live
죽지 못해 사는 오늘 living today without dying
뒷걸음질만 치다가 벌써 벼랑 끝으로 shuffling my feet, and i’m already at the edge of the cliff
어차피 인생은 굴러먹다 가는 뜬구름 같은 anyways, life will pass like the floating clouds
질퍽대는 땅바닥 지렁이 같은 걸 like the sloppy worm on the ground
그래도 인생은 반짝반짝 하는 but life is still twinkling
저기 저 별님 같은 두근대는 내 심장 my heart is beating like the star over there
초인종 같은걸, 인생아 like a doorbell, that is life.
The beauty of music is that even if the lyrics were written and the melodies were created nine years ago, they are as relevant and impactful nine years later.