Haha, so the news was that I attended Wakin Chau’s concert last week with my mum. I was actually more looking forward to Joanna Dong’s pre show than his concert. I guess, I was just expecting an old man singing old songs in an old style. Not that it is bad, but that was what I was expecting; eighties/nineties sound, an extremely clear voice.
Turns out, when he opened the concert with his 有没有那么一首歌会染你想起我, I was blown away! The song was so full with the saxophone adding such a nice colour! His voice was incredible. Not only was his voice controlled and clear, when he wants to have grit in his voice, whenever he sings “有没有…” he can do it! It was so rock! I love it!
He also had such a nice charisma on stage, knowing what to say and what jokes to crack. It was very nice to be in the national stadium and just enjoying myself with this amazing singer!
I only knew about 2-3 songs in the set list, but I was entertained by every single song. From the songs from old wuxia dramas to the nice ballads, he killed it! It was just amazing! Of course I was very excited whenever I hear Jonathan Lee’s songs!
One thing I realised about his voice was that it had this canto accent! Like even though he was clearly singing Chinese, it seems as though phrases like, “爱你够不够多，爱你够不够好” just has this accent that made me think that he was singing canto.
After the concert I was checking out this song, 其实不想走. The concert ended with this song, it was really dope. It started really slow, then they went double time and it was very cool! I checked out the original song, they did not go to double time at all! So cool, I wonder how did the decision of going into double time come about. Could it be someone just, “hey maybe we can try playing it double time!” Then he was, “WHOA, it sounds great!”
It was very interesting to know that even though the song may be very old, it still has new life when played today.
I then bought his best of album, 1987-2002. You will be surprised to hear how dated his songs are! HAHA! I would really love to have a live concert 2018 version. I want! HAHA! Just so we can hear the modern updates to the old songs.
I actually have a slight pet peeve when it comes to Chinese music. I do get a bit irritated when people tell me that Chinese music has not progressed. It is people like Wakin Chau that I can prove that Chinese music has come a long way!
You listen to Wakin Chau’s album and you can hear all the funny eccentricities of old Chinese music production. Things like using funny percussion in their songs. It is almost a given. I have been hearing songs from Jonathan Lee, Liang Wen Fu and Wakin Chau and all three have the same funny percussions that we would not even consider using in our tracks.
You will also hear very funny mixing techniques like have one guitar part be cut to the left for one note, then get cut to the right for the other note. Things that we would definitely not do today because it sound funny and distracting.
You will hear the kick drum pretty high pitched! Wonder why? From what I know, the old analog recording do not hold Low lows and high highs very well. So very often Engineers have to high pass the track before going into tape. In fact because there were so many limitations to analog recordings that almost everything gets high passed before the master.
However such “dated” tracks are still beloved to many because it was the best or most interesting sounding tracks to them back then.
I remember buying the Beatles album and I was finding it VERY hard to listen to it. Sometimes all the vocals will be on one side and all the instruments on the other. I was thinking of how much better music sound now. Then I had an epiphany; stereo music was probably the most interesting music back then! Being able to hear things panned was probably very cool for the consumers back then!
Can you imagine being in the era when stereo mixing first come out Just think of how much people were experimenting with panning instruments left and right! Can you imagine a world without any set rules on panning instruments? How cool is that!
Now when I play Wakin Chau’s music, I guess it is fair to compare to the more modern sounding tracks of that era, Michael Jackson for example. Old Jackson 5 tracks also had its funny panning eccentricities, but it was definitely more modern. However, I would argue that Wakin Chau’s tracks may not lose in terms of it being modern sounding. They were experimenting then too, perhaps adding their own flavour on top of what they try to learn from English music. The fact that I can say that Chinese music of that era sounds like this (funny mixing decisions and funny sounding percussion) means that the Chinese industry has already defined a certain sound during that era.
Today Chinese music sound very modern. Every track is almost mixed the same way. Drums are recorded with close mic-ing and panned according to their position like the drumset, either in drummer or audience perspective. Guitars panned to the side. Lead vocal in the middle. Etc etc. Perhaps learning from English music, we now also have a wide variety of Chinese music of every genre. Rap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Ballad, Rock just to name a few. However, I think that we as Chinese have a unique quality of our own in our music. Our Chinese music somehow captures a few things A LOT better than western music. I think our music captures youthful spirit and emotional heartbreak very well!
I have yet to find an English band/singers that would bring me on an emotional or sentimental journey as well as Chinese bands/Singers do. Perhaps I am a bit biased because I am Chinese myself! HAHA!
I wonder how the music industry would progress 30 years later. I wonder how dated will the tracks that I love sound next to the modern tracks of 30 years later. Will it be a huge difference? I wonder!
Lord, thank you for blessing me with so much!