Sunday, June 28, 2009

Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards

On Saturday evening Taiwan hosted its major music awards ceremony for the year, the 20th Annual Golden Melody Awards. Jay Chou (周杰伦 pinyin: Zhōu Jiélún) took out two major awards, while Hong Kong singer Eason Chan (陈奕迅 pinyin: Chén Yìxùn), Taiwan band Mayday (五月天, pinyin: Wǔ Yuè Tiān) and surprise packet Sandee Chan (陈珊妮, pinyin: Chén Shānnī) also won major prizes.

Jay Chou took out two major awards: Best Male Performer and Song of the Year for Fragant Rice. The controversial Chou created a stir by announcing he wouldn't show at the awards, then mischievously adding something along the lines that if the awards are fair he will win regardless of whether he turns up or not. This is a reference to the suspicion that sometimes awards are handed out to the stars who are present at the ceremony rather than to the most deserving. Nevertheless it was also construed by fans and critics alike as more evidence of Jay's arrogance.

Eason Chan (pictured above with his award) won the Best Album award for Don't Want to Let Go (不想放手), by my count his 40th studio album. Mayday followed up on their recent HITO award with another Best Band gong. Possibly the biggest upset of the night was Sandee Chan's win for Best Female Performer, beating the favourite Fish Leong. However the veteran Chan is well-regarded in the Taiwan music industry for her singing and songwriting talent and the award was perhaps long overdue.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The HITO Pop Music Awards

The annual HITO Pop Music Awards, chosen by some of the Chinese-speaking world’s biggest radio stations, were announced last week. Three of the biggest winners in the 2009 edition of the awards were Mayday (五月天, pinyin: Wǔ Yuè Tiān), Jay Chou (周杰伦, pinyin: Zhōu Jiélún) and Joanna Wang (王若琳, pinyin: Wáng Ruòlín), all multiple award-winners.

Taiwanese five-member pop-rock band Mayday collected four awards in total, including Best Band and the Asia Media Award. Their album Poetry of the Day (後青春期的詩) spent 7 weeks in the number one position to win them the Longest Chart-topping Album award. Their single Suddenly Miss You So was also judged the Number 1 Chinese Song of the Year. Lead singer Ashin also picked up the Best Lyricist award for Poetry of the Day.

Newcomer Joanna Wang took the award previously monopolised by Jolin Tsai, Best Female Singer. Her bilingual debut album Start from Here won Longest Chart-remaining Album after spending 19 weeks in the charts, and the song Let’s Start from Here was also chosen as the Number 2 Chinese Song of the Year.

Jay Chou won Best Male Singer, Best Singer/Songwriter, and his song Fragrant Rice made the Top 10 Chinese Songs of the Year.

A list of the major award-winners is below.

Longest Chart-topping Album: Mayday (6 weeks) – Poetry Of The Day
Longest Chart-remaining Album: Joanna Wang (19 weeks) - Start From Here
Best Singer/Songwriter: Jay Chou – Capricorn
Best Newcomer: Jam Hsiao – Jam Hsiao
Best Band: Mayday – Poetry Of The Day
Best Male Group: Fahrenheit – Two-Sided Fahrenheit
Best Female Group: S.H.E – My FM S.H.E
Best Female Singer: Joanna Wang – Start From Here
Best Male Singer: Jay Chou – Capricorn

Top 10 Chinese Songs Of The Year
1. Mayday – Suddenly Miss You So
2. Joanna Wang – Let’s Start from Here
3. Khalil Fong – Love Song
4. Jam Hsiao – Collection
5. Aska Yang – Dove
6. Eason Chan – Don’t Speak
7. Angela Zhang – Don’t Want To Understand
8. Yoga Lin – Mystery
9. S.H.E – It’s Quiet
10. Jay Chou – Fragrant Rice

2008 Best Overseas Singer
Hong Kong – Eason Chan
Singapore – JJ Lin
Malaysia – Gary Cao

2008 Recommendation Awards
Public’s Favourite Song: Aska Yang – Dove
DJ’s Favourite Album: Khalil Fong – Future
Asia Media Award: Mayday

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

G Music Charts: Nicholas Teo Surprises

This week's G-Music charts (for the week June 5 to June 11) had a surprise number one, with Nicholas Teo (张栋梁, Zhāng Dòngliáng) and his The Moment of Silence (沉默的瞬間). Meanwhile, last week's number one, Tank Lu, plummeted to eighth position. Previous top-place holders Wilber Pan, Zhang Yunjing and even Jolin Tsai, continue to hold their places in the top ten.

Malaysian-born and reared, Nicholas Teo (also sometimes known as Nicholas Zhang) launched his career back in 2004. The Moment of Silence is his sixth album, and is released by Warner Music.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Barbie Hsu: Asia's Sexiest Vegetarian

Sex sells, as we well know, and animal rights organisation PETA, is hoping it can sell vegetarianism. So every year it announces a raft of "sexy" celebrity vegetarians from around the world, presumably in the hope that we will associate a non-meat diet with sexiness.

This year, according to an online poll, actor Barbie Hsu (徐熙媛, pinyin: Xú Xīyuàn) was voted Asia's sexiest female vegetarian. The 32 year old Taiwan star finished ahead of some 200 other well-known vegetarians, including last year's winner, the Hong Kong singer Faye Wong.

Interestingly, sex symbol and Barbie Hsu are words that normally don't gone together. Her fame and popularity is due more to her cute and wholesome girl-next-door persona, rather than hot sultry roles. She's probably best-known for her Taiwan TV dramas. She came to immediate prominence with her TV acting debut in 2001, in the series Meteor Garden. The show, based on a Japanese manga and set on a university campus, was a smash hit in several Asian countries. Hsu played the female lead, a girl from a poor family, who gets bullied by the rich kids but eventually conquers their affections. She also starred in the equally successful sequel the following year.

Last year she had a movie hit with Connected, the Hong Kong re-make of the Hollywood film Cellphone. Her performance as the kidnapped woman was well-received, earning her a nomination for Best Actress at this year's Hong Kong Film Awards.

The committed Barbie didn't mince (excuse the pun) words in her acceptance statement for the PETA award. "Eating meat is like eating corpses to me, and it makes me feel sick and sad".

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tank goes to number one

The Taiwan album charts continues to quickly change at the top, with five different number ones in the last five weeks. This week (May 29 to June 4) it's the turn of pop singer-songwriter Tank (呂建中, Lǚ Jiàn Zhōng) with his third album. The title The Third Round (第三回合) continues the pugilistic theme, following on from his first two albums Fighting and Keep Fighting.

Fans of Tank, sometimes known as Tank Lu, have had to wait over two and a half years for The Third Round because of Tank's health problems. The 27-year old singer underwent heart surgery to treat his condition of cardiac arrythmia (that's an irregular heartbeat in layman's terms). The album contains a song If I Become a Memory (如果我變成回憶) which reflects on his operation as well as the untimely death of his sister.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wilber Pan and "007" at number one

Last week's Taiwan album charts (May 22-28) had American-born Wilber Pan (潘玮柏, Pān Wěibó) at the number one position with his new album 007. Released on the Universal label, it is the 28 year-old's ninth album.

The album made a strong debut with almost 40 percent of all album sales in Taiwan that week. The album mixes pop, hip hop and rap, and perennial "guest appearance" specialist, Akon, also turns up.

Previous number one holder Zhang Yunjin dropped to number three position, while Jolin is still hanging around at number 4 with her album Butterfly which must be on course to be Taiwan's biggest selling album of 2009.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rosy Business: At last, a TVB hit show again

At last, after a couple of months of lukewarm ratings figures, Hong Kong’s TVB network had a program that attracted a decent audience. The costume drama Rosy Business (巾幗梟雄), despite a slow start, steadily picked up viewers, and gained an extremely healthy 42 points in its last week, including a high of 47 points for the final episode. That translates into 3 million Hong Kong viewers who tuned into the show, and came close to breaking the ratings record set by the Korean drama Jewels in the Palace and Moonlight Resonance.

Inspired by a mainland CCTV TV series The Grand Gate Mansion, rather than the other way around as is usually the case, the period drama unfolds in 1800s China and follows the fortunes of a wealthy rice merchant and his family. It starred Sheren Tang (邓萃雯: Dèng Cuìwén) and Wayne Lai (黎耀祥: Li Yao Xiang) in central roles, as well as veteran Hong Kong actor Eric Ngok as the family patriarch and rising star Ron Ng.
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