It was a year of slow songs and ballads but the lyricists really came out in full force and punched hard. Most of the songs I ended up looping weren’t necessarily musically all that unique or interesting, but spoke through their interesting lyrical structures to my sensibilities as a listening poet.
1. 傻子與白痴 Fool and Idiot – “夜長夢少 Morpheus”
傻子與白痴 is a new 5 piece band that debuted this year (although they had released demos in the past and had a following. They, like most indie bands, are a whole package: writing, composing, recording, producing. Lead vocalist 蔡維澤 is also their resident songwriter, displaying pretty spectacular grasp of language while being only 22 YEARS OLD.
而我依舊 攀不上and still I cannot aspire to
理想生活 看不起the ideal life, still don’t look toward
眾望所求 夜長而the expectations of others, i fall through the night long and
夢少後遺落 清醒前尋獲 with few dreams, ready to look again when i wake up
2. 楊丞琳 Rainie Yang – “刪捨 Delete, Reset”
I don’t really follow 楊丞琳’s [Rainie] discography in particular. She’s been a staple of the Mandopop scene for 19 years now and her sound continues to mature and evolve as she shifts through a number of personas with time. This song popped up on my YouTube recommends so I clicked in just planning to do a casual-listen-and-move-on and yet it stuck. This made a lot of sense when I looked into the song because it’s written by 陳珊妮 Sandee Chan who is one of my loves, and has written so many songs that are near and dear to my heart. It turns out I vibe quite well with Rainie’s current season of exploration.
那女孩 小小的眼袋 that girl with the little eye bags
預測青春的加速崩壞 predicting a youth that would collapse faster
每一天 都不敢懈怠 spent her days too afraid to slack off
急著把未來都裝進口袋 impatient to store the future in her pocket
3. 六艾司（小冰）Lilice & 楊碧琪 Becky – “相約在地平街 Meet at the corner of the horizon”
This song was composed, produced and then performed on a Taiwanese Singing Competition. It’s this magical duet between two ridiculously talented young people who fused their unique approaches to music together both in the form and content of the song.
現在 我只需要 all i need now is
你的微笑 在月光下 your smile, under the moon
路過星宿 什麼墜落 passing the constellations, whatever falls
都不重要 is not important
鬆綁 你的煩惱 relax your frustrations
化做雲霄 星羅飄渺 turn them into clouds set them adrift in the net of stars
只能盼望 一次相擁 卻抱不到 you hope for one embrace, but it doesn’t happen
穿越銀色的時間不停靠 leap through silvered time, don’t moor
落在遠距離設下的圈套 land in the trap of distance
我們 躲避 卻躲不了we avoid but cannot hide
相約在地平街角 we promise to meet at the corner of the horizon
Watch their live performance!
One of the biggest trends in Korea this year was “newtro” (new + retro). Millennials looked back to the aesthetic of previous decades that they have never experienced and interpreted it through a new perspective. Artists began remixing or adopting retro sounds like “city pop” which became a huge trend. Amongst this energy, I found myself more attracted to artists who were staying true to their own colour, such as Sunwoo JungA. Including her song, my top three are representational of the respective artist’s style. These artists have also caught my interest since their debut and my love for them is ongoing.
1. 장범준 – “흔들리는 꽃들 속에서 네 샴푸향이 느껴진거야 Your shampoo scent in the flowers”
I played this song almost every day since its release in autumn. I’ve been a fan of Jang Beom June since Busker Busker days with his cringy honest lyrics and simple guitar acoustics. I also happen to have fallen in love with “멜로가 체질 Be Melodramatic” so the combination is just too perfect for me not to adore this song. (Also, another trend this year seemed to be long song titles…)
“흔들리는 꽃들 속에서 네 샴푸향이 느껴진거야
스쳐지나간건가 뒤돌아보지만 그냥 사람들만 보이는거야
다와가는 집근처에서 괜히 핸드폰만 만지는거야
한번 연락해 볼까 용기내 보지만 그냥 내 마음만 아쉬운 거야
걷다가 보면 항상 이렇게 너를 바라만 보던 너를 기다린다고 말할까
지금 집앞에 계속 이렇게 너를 아쉬워 하다 너를 연락했다 할까
i felt the scent of your shampoo amongst the swaying flowers
did you pass by? i turn around and just see crowds of people
almost home, i keep fidgeting with my phone
should i call you? i try to gain courage but i’m just in regret
should i tell you, when i’m walking, i always look at you like this, waiting for you?
should i tell you, i’m in front of your house, i gave you call because i missed you?
2. 백예린 Baek Yerin – “그건 아마 우리의 잘못은 아닐 거야 Maybe it’s not our fault”
I was caught by Yerin’s delicate ethereal voice that rings against the melody from her first solo album. She has a tone that eases your busy mind as you melt into her groove. Her second album [Our love is great] cemented her style. Each song is written and composed by her (sometimes co-) and an easy listen — which could be a weakness but also a strength that never ceases to tire you and gently carries you deeply into her world. I especially love the poetics in this song’s lyrics moving through the dreamlike sounds.
사실은 나도 잘 모르겠어 honestly, i’m not sure
불안한 마음은 어디에서 태어나 where this anxious feeling was born
우리에게까지 온 건지 and how it came to us
나도 모르는 새에 피어나 it bloomed without me knowing
우리 사이에 큰 상처로 자라도 and if it grows into a large wound between us
그건 아마 우리의 잘못은 아닐 거야 maybe it’s not our fault
그러니 우린 손을 잡아야 해 that’s why we have to hold our hands
바다에 빠지지 않도록 so we don’t fall into the ocean
끊임없이 눈을 맞춰야 해 we have to keep our eyes locked
가끔은 너무 익숙해져 버린 even when sometimes we’re so familiar
서로를 잃어버리지 않도록 we need to make sure we don’t forget each other
3. Stella Jang [유해물질 Hazardous Materials]
This album is brilliant. Not just the composition of each of the songs and the expressive range of Stella’s voice, but also the concept behind this album. Stella experiments with genres, sounds and even languages to create a collection on things that are harmful to us, which are explored as metaphors to human relationships. She begins the album explaining substances dangereuses in French as mysterious calling echoes in the background like some spiritual mantra, followed by songs on carbon monoxide, fine dust, alcohol, caffeine and people, each in their own genre, yet unified altogether.
넌 술인데 물인 척 나를 속여와 you’re an alcohol, pretending to be water to trick me
난 물인 듯 술을 들이켜다 so i drink it like water
뭔 술인지 물인지 알 수 없어 but i can’t tell if it’s water or alcohol
난 이제 취해버린 듯해 i think i’m a little tipsy now
You’re a cocktail
달달하게 넘어가 going down so sweet
또 소주 같애 you’re also like soju
씁쓸한 뒷맛을 남기고 leaving a bitter taste in my mouth
날 비틀거리게 making me stumble
판단력을 흐리게 해 blurring my judgement
나 어떡해 what should i do
This acoustic version is so great: