[ALBUM REVIEW] Joey Yung — J-POP

Disclaimer: J-POP is actually a Cantopop album. You’re welcome.

(Though Joey Yung is undoubtedly an A-lister, claiming the name of an entire brand of pop is just far-fetched, especially given the state of the Cantopop industry. So just take it all in with a few grains of salt.)
JPOP_JoeyYung

Unlike the often simple and clean-cut album covers of yore, Joey Yung’s latest J-POP presents a myriad of details. It promises to be a cute and fun experience — yet also modern, sophisticated, and metropolitan.

An album worthy of encapsulating a style of pop, however? It depends.


TRACKLIST:

01. Coffee Or?

02. Evening Jukebox | 黄昏点唱机

03. GOTTA GET HIGH

04. Gimme A Call

05. Available | 我好得闲

06. Parvenu | 新贵

07. The Gemini That No One Knows | 无人知道的双子座

08. Player | 玩家

09. Socks Like Ducks | 鸳鸯袜

10. Flippin’

11. Flashbang | 闪光弹

12. 呢度.依然系


I listened to the instrumental overture “Coffee Or” a couple of times — then decided there wasn’t much to write about.

(The light beat of the drums creates the base of the 22-second track. Brief jazz takeover ensues. Somewhat soothing, perhaps worthy of playing in a coffee shop.)

It does, however, prepare for the jazz and R&B fusion of “Evening Jukebox” (my personal, non-official translation of 黄昏点唱机).

In the MV, Joey and fellow collaborator 林海峰 cruise down the streets of Hong Kong in a vintage model Porsche. Disregarding the steering wheel (we all know the traffic sucks), they flip out and reminisce classic 80s and 90s Cantonese albums, wave around those antique spinning disk things (yes, I’m an ignorant millennial. Deal with it.), and read old handwritten letters. It’s all part of the nostalgic experience.

Similarly, the track itself gives off a 90s vibe — what with the freestyle vocalizations and emphasized sound effects. Yet overall it’s a mellow, soothing track about loving the city amid the constant changes while reminiscing the past.

Joey’s own vocals are soft yet evidently skillful — perhaps the quality of the voice creates an almost surreal, sexy feel that add to the track. Her attempt at low-key rapping is a commendable effort, greatly contrasting with the harshness and hoarse quality of 林海峰’s rap.

Still, I personally dislike the other dude’s rapping — a bit like MC Hotdog‘s, no? It’s most definitely why I can never get into the rap genre.


Literally stylized “GOTTA GET HIGH”, the track is already just obnoxiously in-your-face. The song itself isn’t bad — a mix of bass, trumpets, and light EDM. It’s a lightly sung and decently catchy melody — which may or may not get borderline annoying, given the number of times it’s repeated.

Accentuated by synthesizers, the bridge serves as both a point of interest and a purely cringe-worthy moment. Overall, not horrible, but mediocre at best — definitely not something worth getting high over.

“Gimme A Call” brings the electro-pop (and that beat drop doe~) into the house. Just when one starts swaying along to the beat, Joey’s own vocals come in — and it’s annoying. Like, is it wrong if I just wanna listen to the arrangement itself? 😂

Trumpets may blare, but the electronic synthesizers reveal the truth. “Available” is a fun and catchy — though typical — EDM track about running out of time. It’s incredibly smooth and its transitions (such as to the piano) are seamless.

The MV is your typical Asian pop pastel ordeal — with absolutely no product placement and most definitely no sponsorship from Expedia.com.hk . Perfectly embodying the track itself, it’s just the conventional stuff, but still manages to be rather endearing.

“新贵” (xīn guì) refers to the “newly rich”, but Joey sings of it in an emotional context. Accentuated by melancholy strings and intimate piano, the ballad is about acceptance after separation — love is a form of freedom, after all.

Joey is a Gemini — a 双子座 (shuāng zǐzuò). As one of the most misunderstood horoscopes, she sings of hiding her weaknesses inside. Still, she acknowledges that she feels lonely, and asks others to not assume things about her.

In recent years, the Chinese have shown lots of interest in the Western horoscope, so this may relate to them more than to me. It’s a nice ballad, and Joey has a great voice.


Penned by renown lyricist Albert Leung《玩家》(wán jiā) is an introspective view into, well, life — and the various facets such as belief and fantasies.

The arrangement — the low strums of the guitar combined with the flowing, ethereal strings — creates a clash between the earth and the heavens — and the modern and the traditional. It almost gives off a 行走江湖 sort of feeling — about traveling the world and its wonders, yet also from the perspective of an experienced master who’s seen it all.

Watch the lyric video here.

It’s hard to describe — or translate — the intimacy of “鸳鸯袜” (yuān yang wà). Very loosely, it compares the intimacy of socks (or stockings) to a pair of Mandarin ducks. The lyrics are about a woman who receives stockings and how they accompany her through her daily life. A very romantically sung song, the vocals of an unknown male are evidently present in the background.

Watch the lyric video here.

With bass providing the beat, “Flippin'” appears to be the beginning of a hip-hop or EDM track.

“Flashbang” is apparently adapted from an English song — it sounds incredibly like the typical Western EDM that one hears on the radio. It’s basically about posting about your relationship on social media. Joey is a considerably powerful vocalist, and the melody was quite catchy, but personally the genre isn’t my thing.

Watch the lyric video here.

“呢度” is a Cantonese phrase meaning “here”, “依然” means “as before”, and “系” refers to a “system” or “series”. I’m not even going to try to translate 《呢度.依然系》. The final track is basically a 58-second remix of Track #2, “Evening Jukebox”, though with a completely different arrangement and hence vibe.


OVERALL THOUGHTS

It’s strange listening to a Cantopop album — or any foreign-language music you can’t understand right there and then.

Joey Yung’s latest studio album does indeed present a variety of genres — jazz, R&B, EDM, ballads, etc. However, the concept of pop itself — perhaps too vague to capture — ultimately turned out to be weakly emulated. With only eight songs out of the entire album, it feels perhaps sad (?) that Joey’s team couldn’t produce more music.

One thing J-POP succeeded in was capturing, albeit just loosely, the whole metropolitan and “modern woman” vibe given off on the album cover. Most of the tracks were alright but lacked that extra push to be considered great or amazing.

Perhaps if Joey tried some hip hop (as promised in the overtures)? Somehow it all felt a bit weak-willed, despite Joey’s virtuoso singing and the high production value.

Still, not bad at all.

Recommended Tracks: 新贵 (Track #6), 玩家 (Track #8), 鸳鸯袜 (Track #9)

OVERALL RATING: 6.8/10

— moon148

 

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