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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hear: Rappin' with Vanness + Evan Yo

VANNESS WU: In Between 2008 New Songs & Greatest Hits Collection (Sony BMG)

AMONGST the pretty boys of Taiwanese boyband F4, Vanness Wu is probably the most talented musically. But with his American upbringing, his music is more hip hop than Mando-pop. It can be hard at times to reconcile this hard-rapping singer with the cool, boy-next-door dude in Meteor Garden (the Taiwanese drama series that propelled F4 to stratospheric stardom).

When not occasionally getting together for their concerts as the F4 quartet — no, the guys have not really split up, contrary to most perceptions — they mostly do their own thing. For Vanness, it means sprouting much facial hair and plunging headlong into making music, his first passion.

His first two efforts, Body Will Sing and V. Dubb, achieved limited commercial success, with a third, the crossover album Scandal with Korean artiste Kangta, helping to extend his fanbase but only just.

No matter. This effort, In Between 2008 New Songs & Greatest Hits Collection, seems premature but I suppose one could just take it as a definitive example of who Vanness really is.
Three new songs are included — Lucky Me, My Own Pace and I Am Not Myself — and while they will make you want to move to the beat, it’s the slower-paced songs that make you sit up and listen.

Sure, songs like Let Go and Listen To Your Heart may sound like the F4 boys all over again but other tunes, such as I Hate Myself, Because Of Loving You Too Much and Mother, are more contemporary.

Overall, however, what stays in the mind is Vanness’ noisy rappin’ and rocking ways, especially on songs such as Zero Time Adjustment and My Kingdom. And man, I also can’t shake off the image of his washbod abs either!

Rating: HH ½


(Sony BMG)

EVAN Yo, nominated Best Newcomer at the Taiwan Golden Melody Awards last year, has a sophomore effort in Search and it is but a competent follow-up to his nice 2006 debut, 19.

Yo is young, fresh-faced and talented but the trouble is, so are numerous other similar-looking singers emerging like clockwork in the Chinese music industry these days. Does he have the edge?

Well, his new Mandopop album is nicely packaged with a good mix of fast-tempo and romantic ditties but on songs like Old Place and Love? the limited range of his voice is glaring.

I Am Back, the first track, is a better bet. Quick on tempo and catchy, the title may seem presumptuous but we quickly forgive him as the melody progresses.

The best tracks are probably The Love I Know and Stay With Me and this should give you an indication that he is stronger on ballads.

Yo, if one wants to be kind, Evan probably just needs more time to find his niche. Let’s hope he doesn’t take too long. This album certainly cannot be considered definitive.

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