Love is perhaps the most exploited topic of pop music; it’s definitely a mysterious force that cannot be completely understood, which is why people like writing/singing about it so much.
In order to better express this topic, duets between a male and female artiste — that is, both parties experiencing this love — are then but inevitable.
Yesterday happened to be 七夕, July 7 on the Lunar Calendar, or Chinese Valentine’s Day (Qixi Festival). So, to all my readers, happy belated Chinese Valentine’s Day! Plus read the story behind it.
To celebrate this the C-pop way, we take a look at some romantic C-pop duets. Enjoy!
1. Juno Mak x Kay Tse’s【罗生门 Rashomon】
“Wait,” you squint. “Why does this look so familiar?” Because it is; it hasn’t been long since I just posted about Juno Mak’s most recent musical trilogy a while after its release. And from reading the review you might get that I, well, absolutely loved 【罗生门】like I still do.
This might be JUNO MAK x KAY TSE, but Kay Tse was actually the one who brought out most of the amazing song while Juno Mak took care of the beginning and harmonized with Kay a bit in the end. The Cantonese lyrics are incredibly sad, too, but it fits perfectly with the message: that love is filled with regrets.
My one problem with this song is: I STILL don’t get why it’s called “Rashomon”. >_< Having posted about the song, I went and searched “Rashomon” up on the Internet to find that it is 1) Show Luo‘s seventh studio album (because his last name is 罗, but also known as “Lover’s Puzzle”) and 2) the 1951 Japanese movie, which I already knew about. Through process of elimination I conjectured that it was referring to the movie rather than the album (although Show does enjoy a Hong Kong fanbase), and therefore did more research on “Rashomon”. It represents the struggle between good and evil, which, unless I missed a HUGE part of the lyrics does not have anything to do with this song.
But, whatever — it sounds absolutely amazing, their voices are perfect together, and it describes a lost relationship that still hasn’t completely lost its regrets. ‘Nuff said. (Listen. To. It.)
2. Juno Mak x Karen Mok’s【瑕疵 Flaws】
【罗生门】was actually the last in Juno Mak’s latest musical trilogy; the second was his collaboration with renown Hong Kong singer Karen Mok,【瑕疵】. Both are rather capable vocalists, so of course their voices sounded amazing together. As with “Rashomon”, Juno Mak begins the song with his own vocal array but Karen Mok quickly joins in — this time with Juno Mak. Karen Mok then wraps up the song with her own solo.
The song generally depicts how, despite the many flaws in their relationship, two lovers had made it through together. It reflects more hope through it’s melody and arrangement — that is, until Karen Mok’s solo at the end, where her true colors are revealed. Unfortunately, neither party is truly content, but that’s the thing with love.
Through Karen Mok’s solo at the end, I’ve come to realize that I easily get tired of her voice, despite and probably because of its unique quality. Admittedly her voice contains more power that Kay Tse’s, but that was ultimately why I preferred “Rashomon” over “Flaws”.
One thing I wonder is: how are listeners supposed tell what they’re singing about if different lyrics are overlapping each other? Don’t they get jumbled together? More on that later.
3. R-chord【爱不需要装乖 Love Doesn’t Need to Pretend】ft. Diana Wang
By now you should probably get that these are listed out opposite the order of release (from most recent to least recent). In early June, rapper R-chord‘s “Love Doesn’t Need to Pretend” ft. Diana Wang, along with his latest album, was released, and immediately started attacking the charts like crazy. It was also that one song that was always one spot ahead of JJ Lin’s “If Only”, but I’m just getting ahead of myself here. Such popularity is also reflected in the sheer amount of YouTube views it’s getting, although If Only still has more views hehehe, and it doesn’t seem to be that popular in the Mainland, where I vacationed for a bit over the summer, but didn’t hear at all.
All popularity aside, I can say that it’s definitely worth all the attention it’s getting; like a ton of other C-pop audiences, I quite liked it, and even excitedly showed it to a friend. Said friend was rather turned off because R-chord had so many piercings and tattoos, but thought Diana was really pretty. >_<
Anyhow, “Love Doesn’t Need to Pretend” is one of those rapper-to-vocalist collabs (obviously). However, for the first time, I found myself preferring the rap over the vocals, even though I sort of watched this for Diana,
who I found out via the “Frozen Kiss”. I felt that the repeating line “爱不需要装怪” came out too . . . flat. Nearing the end, Diana finally reveals that she’s rather vocally capable with more vocal acrobatics and even a whistle register. Let’s just bow down in respect to the composer for not including lower notes, because for once she actually didn’t sound so breathy.
Despite so, R-chord’s rapping was amazing throughout, Diana ended up picking up, and the lyrics were rather nicely written. Plus the MV was incredibly addicting to watch, too (if “Black Keys” didn’t exist . . .), especially with its array of visual effects and well-done editing. But we all knew that MVs coming from Warner Music are generally high-quality productions.
Final thought: It’s been years, yes, but I’m STILL. SO. JEALOUS. of Diana Wang. -_-
4. JJ Lin 【手心的蔷薇 Beautiful】ft. G.E.M.
Like the song, I thought this was just absolutely beautiful. It just was.
This was the one song off JJ Lin‘s latest album that I just went around singing everywhere (because unfortunately I’m not vocally capable enough the sing “The Romantic” or “Black Keys”), and kept putting on repeat. It was also the highlight of my rather short-lived period of being a hardcore G.E.M. fan. Yet at the time of its release (both in terms of the album and the music video), this was legit male bias + female bias, and I think I basically died of happiness.
It just sounds . . . amazing. Nowadays my perspective towards G.E.M. isn’t exactly from a fan’s, but to this day it’s still one of my favorite ballads ever.
As I really loved listening to both G.E.M. and JJ’s voices separately in their own songs, when put together they obviously would sound great, too. JJ is just absolutely talented at harmonizing, so no worries there. It was produced very nicely, too, so props to JJ Lin for being so talented.
I’d like to point out that this is the second duet I’ve heard where when the two singers overlap each singers’ lines are slightly different in terms of the lyrics (the third being【罗生门】and the fourth,【瑕疵】). However, they’re a bit careful about not getting the words jumbled together; the difference is merely G.E.M. sings “有你在/ You’re here” while JJ sings “有我在/ I’m here”. I don’t know, actually, if it wouldn’t seem to jumble together if it was quite different like in “Rashomon” or “Flaws” but was in Mandarin, a language that I have a much better grasp on than Cantonese.
The MV was so beautiful, too — I especially loved the scene where G.E.M. eats the pomegranate.
5. Jay Chou【怎么了 What’s wrong】ft. Cindy Yen
Cindy Yen I really don’t know that well; she works under Jay Chou in his company, which means she’ll get the chance to collaborate with him quite a lot. However, the only song I know by her (not w/ Jay Chou) is “Hedgehog’s Embrace”.
I actually heard this when this first came out, and found it to be rather flat. Still, I felt that it was one of the better songs off Jay Chou’s latest album, which was still mediocre. It’s quite catchy, though, so there’s that. (If you want good Jay Chou material, please take a look at his earliest albums.)
One thing this made me wonder was: did Cindy’s voice change or what? It seems to have improved/become more powerful/less thin, but doesn’t go well with Jay Chou’s voice anymore because it lacks that contrast now.
If anything, her hairstyle’s changed drastically.
As with the “Smile” MV (Jay Chou and Cindy Yen’s previous collab), it features Jay Chou walking and Cindy Yen standing. But, it’s in a more natural setting this time; Cindy’s standing under a tree here.
6. Harlem Yu 【哈你歌 Honey Song】ft. 小S
When I first found out that 哈林 was going to be dueting with 小S, of all people, I was rather shocked. For one, I’m not a big fan of 康熙来了 . . . at all, and she scares me half to death with her straightforwardness. In addition, I sort of got the impression that her singing was pretty bad.
Therefore being a 哈饭 made me rather conflicted, but in the end it actually turned out okay.
小S, or Dee Hsu, is kind of sort of a professional singer now (uh-huh), and goes by the stage name “Elephant DEE”. I actually listened to songs off her EP
(she writes all her songs, too! ). It’s . . . interesting.
But anyhow her EP wasn’t released until late 2014, so back in 2013 I was doubtful. In the end Harlem Yu somehow managed to harmonize with her and the song somehow sounded good, because he’s just a musical genius. Maybe I even secretly enjoyed the music video and found it cute?
One thing that I failed to pick up back then was . . . how straightforward the lyrics were. It might even be able to compete Elephant DEE’s own works [hopefully not].
Haven’t said goodbye to you
I’ve already started missing
I really don’t want to leave you
But the dog wants to go outside
7. Jay Chou【傻笑 Smile】ft. Cindy Yen (again!)
Having heard【傻笑 Smile】when it first came out, my impression of this was definitely much better than my impression of 【怎么了 What’s wrong】. Similarly, my impression of 【十二新作 Opus 12】was much better than the recent【哎哟，不错哟 Aiyo, Not Bad】.
Listening to this again, I can affirm that Cindy’s voice really used to be quite thin and wispy, which is probably why I never looked at her stuff until “Hedgehog’s Embrace” got really popular. Interestingly, that thin and wispy voice really went well with Jay Chou’s, but now that it’s actually not, it can’t harmonize with Jay Chou anymore. o.O
Unfortunately, that meant that when Cindy wasn’t harmonizing with Jay in “Smile”, I didn’t like it. I guess you have to sacrifice something.
You might notice that this MV seems really familiar. What’s different is that it incorporates the cityscape and the nighttime, too.
8. Harlem Yu x Momo Wu’s【我要给你】
Momo Wu was the runner-up of the first season of The Voice of China, and was under Team Harlem. A bit afterwards they then did a collaboration that Linfair Records released as the first promo for Harlem’s album【关不掉的月光】,【我要给你】. This legit sparked rumors . . . between a then 20-year-old and a
then 50-year-old forever 18-year-old, but, like, whatever.
Listening to this I quite liked it, and was absolutely fascinated by the music video. It also had the earworm effect, too, so sorry to everyone who got really annoyed with me singing “你就会闪闪发光” all the time.
It’s actually pretty good, actually, if you’re willing to accept Momo’s eccentric style of singing. Unfortunately their voices didn’t go all that well together, but when separate both parties sounded amazing. Momo really does add something special to【我要给你】.
If you’re wondering about the 世界末日 (apocalypse), yes, this was released in December 2012.
9. Eason Chan x Faye Wong【因为爱情 Because Love】
One of the few CDs I own is one containing Faye Wong‘s classics up until 2012, and one of my absolute favorites is definitely her collaboration with Eason Chan. Faye Wong I’ve basically grown up listening to (though I don’t really anymore :'(), but through【因为爱情】I began listening to Eason Chan, too. They’re both renown established Hong Kong artists known for their amazing singing abilities who sing in quite a lot of Mandarin.
It wasn’t until today did I find out that this is actually the theme song for some movie, though this counts as a classic now . . .?
10. Cindy Yen【画沙 Sand Painting】ft. Jay Chou (I swear it’s the first time . . .)
I’ll admit that this was the first time I’ve heard “Sand Painting”, but this is definitely my favorite out of all the Jay Chou and Cindy Yen collaborations. For one, Cindy Yen’s voice doesn’t sound so thin and wispy here, yet sounds okay when harmonizing with Jay Chou. My only problem is that in this song she had problem controlling her breathing, and it clearly wasn’t effortless singing this song.
Yet in terms of everything else, from the arrangement, background instrumentals to how the song was composed, it was definitely better than the other more recent collabs. It’s also far more memorable, too (“Smile” was fairly memorable but “What’s wrong” really wasn’t), and I even prefer this music video. >_<
Oh, and of course Cindy’s gone through yet another hairstyle change.
11. JJ Lin【小酒窝 Little Dimples】ft. Charlene Choi
This was actually how I found out about JJ Lin; that is, through “Little Dimples”. So considering my age I guess I’m an early fan?
But seriously — this thing was just extremely popular, or at least popular enough that a little girl not living in Greater China had heard it a bit after it’s release. It’s one of those 口水歌s that you always have to sing at the KTV. Despite Charlene Choi‘s inability too, well, sing, it’s just so so cute and catchy and everyone loves it. XD
Admittedly this wasn’t the song that made me a JM, but you kind of get the reason why the general populace totally dug this. Plus you get that beautiful line, “我永远爱你到老”! ❤
12. Jay Chou 【珊瑚海 Coral Sea】ft. Lara
If “Little Dimples” wasn’t the most popular duet of the decade, then it was a close second to Jay Chou‘s “Coral Sea”. This thing is definitely what you would call a “renown classic”.
It’s your typical Jay Chou ballad, sounds really good, etc., except for the fact that I find Lara’s voice to be too whiny, and her parts came out a bit flat. Jay Chou did an amazing job carrying it out and they harmonized quite nicely.
The version I’m actually accustomed to hearing is the one JJ Lin sang with Lara (*covers mouth*); compared to JJ’s voice, Lara sounded discordant, but compared to Jay’s voice, she sounded whiny (sorry . . .).
Why am I always preferring Jay Chou’s older MVs?!
13. 金莎【被风吹过的夏天 Blown by the Summer Wind】ft. JJ Lin
This is actually the first duet JJ’s ever been a part of, and the first duet he’s ever composed. However, it wasn’t until June 2015 when OB finally uploaded the thing on YouTube.
Just considering Ocean Butterflies, JJ’s previous company, however, this was more than likely a promotional device to promote this 金莎, whoever she is. (Actually I think she’s an actress, too, because I vaguely recall her with my BB Hu Ge or something. o.O)
Back in 2005 OB was clearly way more affluent then nowadays, though, but because they’re just so professional of course we’re getting this in the glorious 240p. I kid you not.
But, whatever — JJ is just too adorable, their voices both sound pretty (although if I heard 金莎’s voice for the length of an entire song without JJ harmonizing I would get really tired of it), and the melody is written so beautifully. The MV is rather cute, too. And because summer is going to end really soon, this song really just hit me and has made me so . . . nostalgic. For me, this almost brought tears to my eyes because I don’t want summer to end so soon. 😥
14. Jolin Tsai 【布拉格广场 Prague Square】ft. Jay Chou (ft. little children)
2004 was definitely a renaissance for Mandopop; Jolin Tsai‘s collab with Jay Chou,【布拉格广场】, was definitely among the representative works of the time.
(If you didn’t know: Jolin and Jay dated back then, and their ship name was “Double J”. Unfortunately nowadays they’re probably not going to collab, like, ever because you know. However we all pray for Double J to appear on the same stage just because.)
Strictly speaking, this isn’t necessarily a straightforward love song, but emits nostalgia and a mysterious feel. It also incorporates more Renaissance-like European instrumentals, which apparently doesn’t happen anymore. 😥
This is definitely my favorite Jay Chou collaboration of all time; you have Jay Chou doing his Jay Chou rapping, but then little children join in rapping. Jolin then sings the chorus; there you get the line, “那画面太美我不敢看/ It’s so beautiful that I don’t dare to look”, which is now a popularized online saying. Let’s congratulate Vincent Fang here for his genius.
While Jolin doesn’t really show her voice all that much (it’s definitely had to have improved), it still sounds amazing. When you’re a musical genius like Jay Chou, it’s then possible to not be able to sing very well and yet have good songs.
The music video was actually really artistic, too . . . again, what the heck happened to Jay Chou’s MVs?
15. Jeff Chang, Carina Lau【有一点动心】
The oldest C-pop duet that I know of is Jeff Chang and Carina Lau‘s【有一点动心】, which was released all the way back in 1994. Obviously I didn’t hear it back then, but Jeff Chang is another one of those artists I grew up listening to as a little child, so I’ve heard this for a while.
Jeff Chang has an amazing voice, though he’s a bit old now, and it’s at the same key as Carina Lau’s (who I thought was only an actress). Listening to this, it’s quite obvious it’s not from this century, what with those instrumentals. It still sounds quite nice, though.
Today was the first time I saw the music video, which is also in that glorious 240p. It actually has plot, too. That dolphin though . . . how dare someone hit it?!