This post was written in March 2011 and previously posted on my personal site – 25thday.com.
Description from YesAsia
There were controversies – unfounded, some would say – when Raymond Lam was awarded “The Most Popular Hong Kong Male Singer in the Asia Pacific Region” two years in a row on TVB’s Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards. Now the hot Hong Kong singer/actor is out to prove a point with the release of his long-awaited first Mandarin album. Aptly titled First, the album is a collection of 10 new songs tailor-made to Raymond’s magnetic voice. The heartfelt ballad “Let Me Love You For An Hour” comes to be the first plug and is followed by the up-tempo number “One More Time”. Some of Raymond’s biggest Cantonese hits are also adapted into Mandarin here, such as “Another Way To Love You” and “Love Searching For You In Memories”.
01. 再一次 (One more time)
02. 太熱了 (Too hot)
03. 讓我愛你一小時 (Let me love you for one hour)
04. 換個方式愛你 (Change to another way of loving you)
05. 不想讓你失望 (Don’t want you to be disappointed)
06. 吻過吸血鬼 (Kissed a vampire)
07. 愛在記憶中找你 (Love to search for you in memories)
08. 一直都在 (Have always been here)
09. 我們很好 (We’re very well)
10. 長假期 (Long vacation)
Ahhh Raymond Lam. He’s my favourite HK actor / singer. But this doesn’t mean this will be one of those “OMG YOU MUST BUY THIS – HE’s HOT!” type of review. In fact it’ll be quite the opposite. Sometimes I feel like I’m being more harsh on him because I know he’s capable of better.
Firstly – the cover. Does it even look like him? My answer is no. I’m not a fan of it, at all. There’re actually better photos inside this album but they chose this one. I would like to know why. Not the best first impression.
The major problem (and this is critical) I have with this album is that there is only three NEW songs. Apart from “One more time”, “Too hot” and “Let me love you for one hour”, the other SEVEN songs have been previously released in his Cantonese albums. As Cantonese is my first language, one of my pet peeves is Cantonese converted to Mandarin songs (and vice versa). This pet peeve is right up there along with people who chew with their mouths open, or people who talk way too loud on their mobile phones on the bus.
So why do I hate converted songs? It’s because 90% of the time they’re just not as good as the original. This is especially the case if the original was very well known… the new version will always sound….weird. I know for some tracks the Mandarin version was recorded first but the reality is, the Cantonese version was released first.
HOWEVER –> after reading the news and seeing his interviews, I understand I am NOT his target market for this album. This album is being sold to those in Mainland China, who may have heard of him through his television work but not necessarily heard of him as a singer.
Well, that’s nice. Since I can only write what I think – I’ll put this caution out there to say this is the point of view from someone who speaks Cantonese at home, but mainly listens to Mandarin songs. She has also followed Raymond’s music career since his first album, and have watched the majority of his TV series.
About each song…
01. One more time – This is one catchy track – does it have too much autotune? I think it’s ok. Or maybe I just think anything other than his normal sad love ballads are good. He needs to get away from the stereotype of singing only love songs and at least this track is moving in the right direction. However, this tracks lacks a little masculinity – for me that’s the missing element.
02. Too hot – Does it sound too much like kpop? I can’t tell you because I don’t listen to kpop. When I first listened to this song, I really had no idea what he was singing. His voice is so processed and the music is so loud! That’s a shame because the lyrics are a highlight which is uncommon for this type of fast, dance songs. I particularly liked this verse:
只看到我在人前 多瀟灑 多光輝
Can only see me being so unrestrained, so glorious in front of others
沒看到我在人後 流眼淚 流汗水
Cannot see me shredding tears and sweating behind the background
Overall, I also liked this track, probably more than ‘One more time’ as it has the masculinity that OMT lacks.
03. Let me love you for one hour – another ‘new’ song, back to his love song roots. It takes the ‘sad love song’ to a new level of…. depression. With the music composed by Tang Chi Wai you know what you’re getting and at least this time the lyrics are writen by Chan Siu Kei (not the usual Cheung Mei Yin). It really tucks at your heartstrings, with words like these:
If I can only love you for one hour
write the shortest love poem
Hope you will not change your name in the next lifetime
can let me find you more easily
The MV – has its highlights, but unfortunately looks more like an advertisement for watches rather than an MV. (I’m sorry, I forgot to mention product placements are also one of my pet peeves!) This is the Raymond Lam everyone is familiar with and this track does not disappoint.
04. Change to another way of loving you – I’m not sure if there’s any way I could possibly like the Mandarin version. The Cantonese version (esp the live version he sang in his first “Let’s Get Wet” concerts) is too memorable in my opinion, that any adjustments made seem redundant. Plus just by looking at the lyrics, I don’t really think the words matches the title, whilst this is entirely different for the Cantonese version.
Let’s do a little comparision:
Legend says courage is born from love, fly away and the world will be more enchanting
How heavy is the suitcase filled with memories, still believe I can carry it
Have embrace you and then (my) two arms, will remember the feelings for the rest of (my) life
Please take care, take care of yourself
You said does perfection exist? If you believe it then it does
My deepest love for you, is to let you be free
Some memories have turned black & white, some emotions cannot be cried out
You left, but love have always been here
To me, the Mandarin version just doesn’t have the ‘depth’ that the Cantonese version processes. It has just become another ordinary love song.
05. Don’t want you to be disappointed – this is the Mandarin version of the theme song from TVB series “Growing Through Life”. ANOTHER Tang Chi Wai + Cheung Mei Yin collaboration, the second of this album. The music is the same as the Cantonese version and I think overall, it retains the ‘feel’ of a grand TV series theme song. This song further proves that Cheung Mei Yin is much better at writing Cantonese lyrics than Mandarin ones. (I will save my rant about this for track 9.) The word play and descriptions she has for her Cantonese lyrics would disappear in the Mandarin versions, replaced with something more ‘dumbed down’ & straight forward.
Despite all that I don’t mind the Mandarin version. I can tolerate it reasonably.
06. Kissed a vampire – hrm, I’m neutral towards this song. It retains the feel of the Cantonese version ‘Vampire’ and the lyrics are nothing spectacular. Just another Mandarin song he will have under his sleeve for performing during concerts. (Although I don’t understand why the Chinese government chose to ban this song? It’s not included in the Chinese version of the album.)
07. Love to search for you in memories – The third Tang Chi Wai / Cheung Mei Yin collaboration of this album. Apart from “Love with no regrets æ„›ä¸ç–š”, this song is probably Raymond’s most well known song. I guess for this reason, they have tried to change the arrangement in the Mandarin version to a more ‘acoustic’ feel with the background guitar.
Sounds like a good idea at the time but the end result is rather awkward. So the original version is about wanting to forget someone, but you still love them very much. That type of internal struggle best illustrated in a melodramatic ‘TV theme song’ type of way. The lyrics of the Mandarin version pretty much has the same feel as it was previously (love/hate struggle) but the music has a more relaxed tone.
I truly hate you, truly love you
repeating hurting myself
Love is a memory, without sound or trace
until it slowly disappears
The new acoustics just does not match what the song is trying to say. It may have worked better if they just kept the original arrangement.
08. Have always been here – yes this will be the fourth Tang Chi Wai / Cheung Mei Yin collaboration. I never really liked the Cantonese version of this duet with Charlene Choi, changing it to Mandarin does not change my opinion. Their vocals aren’t really matching so I don’t feel much for this one.
09. We’re very well – subtheme song to “Growing Through Life” and you guessed it, the fifth Tang Chi Wai / Cheung Mei Yin production. Can I have my rant now and say that everytime I listen to these parts, I cringe?
That kind of thumping heartbeat was real
We could’ve been very good, what happened?
I remember when this song was first released last year, quite a few people have asked Cheung Mei Yin why she wrote the Mandarin lyrics when the end product was a bit… hrm. Her response was ‘A job is a job. If they asked me to write it, then I will.’ –> So you know, I don’t completely blame her for this, I also blame the producers for thinking this is of ‘acceptable quality’.
10. Long vacation – the Mandarin version of “Paused” retains the qualities of the original. It has its likeable traits and stands its own ground. I didn’t really feel much for “Paused” until very recently when I heard it live at his concert, so I guess the Cantonese version will also feel more ‘right’. However that is not to say “Long vacation” is a bad song.
When I first heard that he was preparing for this album (back in January 2010 it was!) I was really excited. I had been eagerly waiting for his Mandarin album ever since I heard one of his first songs “If we were here” (theme to the movie “Stolen Love”). That single still remains one of my favourite Raymond Lam songs. Way back then he has already shown he has great potential in the Mando-pop market. He can pronounce Mandarin properly, and he just has the voice to do it. So after over a year’s wait, we have “First”. Needless to say my expectations were high. So does it deliver? The answer is yes and no – I really like the three ‘new’ songs, but just disappointed that the other seven songs I have heard the melodies before. Maybe I’ll feel more satisfied if he has another two new songs, a 5:7 ratio would probably push me towards the ‘must buy’ category. Actually, if they include the three new MVs I will also feel I’m getting more ‘value for money’ but NO – there will be no additional versions to this album. The MVs will be released in his Cantonese album later this year.
I really want to like this album but in the end I’m just repeating the three new songs. Writing this also reminds me what a good song “If we were here” was – even if they re-record and release it again I’ll be happy.