Music Obsessions – May 2021

Welcome to the next Music Obsessions! May is already here! I honestly can’t believe me. This first 4 months of the year went by so fast mostly because I was so busy and just working a whole lot. Either way, music has been a lot in my life especially since I’m watching survival idol competitions and stuff so it gave me a chance to look up the original songs and there’s been some good ones. I’d say there’s some decent variety this time so hope you find something that you like as well!

Let’s go!

Stop Sugar – Gen Neo

I’m not sure if finding Gen Neo was more worth mentioning than finding Stop Sugar in general. I still think its a great song but Gen Neo has a fantastic voice and I had never even heard of him before watching Youth With You 3. His style and his voice is absolutely fitting to the music genre that he chooses to do. He has some other experimental ones of covers and collabs that are also pretty good especially worth mentioning is the one for Leehom Wang’s You’re Not There, a song that I love a lot and his version is different but really good and catchy as well.

A Kind World – 2Night夜里

I’m not sure how I ended up finding this song but 2Night was on the Chinese Rap Competition show last year and I really liked his rap style even though he didn’t make it very far. Finding this is pretty cool since its a rather fun song. I haven’t been able to find the lyrics since some of the faster rap bits are a little hard to catch but overall, I do like the writing and the rhythm of the whole thing. Its feels so lighthearted and feel good to listen to.

超能力 Superpower – G.E.M.鄧紫棋

A lot of people who listen to Chinese pop music knows G.E.M. at this point. She’s known to have a powerful voice and so young with so much success. I have to say that the last few years has really made me see a lot more of her music as her success allowed her to expand into other music genres and make more unique and/or meaningful music. Superpower definitely is unique especially when you look at the dance. Its super catchy overall and its been revolving in my head non-stop.

As a side note, her performance on Youth With You 3 for the Collab Stage was pretty fun as well. You can look it up if you want or ask me to share the link in the comments if you want to check it out

念想 Better Us – Jackson Yee易烊千玺 (‘Better Days’ OST)

I haven’t been watching a ton of movies this past month but I think the most memorable has to be Better Days, a movie that I had bought before it was nominated as Best International Feature at the Oscar’s but it did encourage me to watch it sooner. You can find my review HERE. The soundtrack is pretty good. I was deciding whether to share the main theme of the movie by JJ Lin or this one for this post. This one won out mostly because I think this song’s lyrics is pretty well-written and fits the movie so well. At the same time, I think Jackson Yee doing such a good acting job in this movie and then performing this type of song was a bit surprising. To be honest though, I only know Jackson Yee from 3 places before this: his early boy group TF Boys, a few episode of Season 2 of Street Dance of China and the variety show Welcome Back to Sound which kind of all shows his diversity. Either way, this is very quiet but I think its pretty good.

閉嘴跳舞 Shut Up and Dance – Chris Lee 李宇春

I don’t usually share performances from Youth With You 3 BUT this one is unique because its a fresh new music video for a new song from Chris Lee which had its first reveal or public performance or something on the show. Its also a very catchy song and the whole performance and dancing. They wanted to make it with an brainwashing effect for its dance routine. I think its pretty fun overall plus these are all top trainees in the show so the quality is definitely there. Plus, Chris Lee did put together a well done music video with a lot of style not to mention, I love this type of funky music style.

That’s it for this music obsessions!
Hope you enjoyed it!

Better Days (少年的你, 2019)

Better Days (少年的你, 2019)

Director: Derek Tsang

Cast: Dongyu Zhou, Jackson Yee, Fang Yin, Ye Zhou, Yue Wu, Jue Huang, Yifan Zhang, Xinyi Zhang, Xuanming Gao, Xintong Xie

A bullied teenage girl forms an unlikely friendship with a mysterious young man who protects her from her assailants, all while she copes with the pressures of her final examinations. – IMDB

*Originally posted on Movies and Tea for Friday Film Club*

Perhaps one of the more surprising titles to be nominated in the best International feature category at the upcoming Oscars is 2019’s Chinese romantic crime film, Better Days. Better Days is based on a Chinese YA novel called In His Youth, In Her Beauty. Faced with difficulty to release due to censorship in China, Better Days focuses on school bullying while looking at the stressful and demanding environment of preparing for the National Exam which determines the future of a student and where they end up in university while also looking at the reality of family situations in China. It takes a snapshot of Chinese society, call it a social commentary if you will but the movie does end with a discussion of the progress that’s been made with the different ministry departments of creating laws to protect against school bullying. With that said, the movie rather lengthy running at 2 hours 15 minutes, which is structured fairly well as it starts off right away highlighting the school issue and building up those tensions while moving to a second act which is focused on the relationship between Chen Nian and Xiao Bei as he protects her in the shadows. A lot of their relationship is built through actions more than words which thanks to a good direction of director Derek Tsang makes it work. Making the third act one that tugs at heartstrings despite all that’s happening and question the morals of who is right and wrong as well as bringing up how much teens believe in the adults surrounding them and how much they can help.

Talking about the director, Derek Tsang brings in some interesting direction choices whether its how he uses the lighting or moving through a montage of how time passes or just how he chooses to use the cinematography and camera pans to structure the scene to create a great effect and capture what he wants and leaving some mystery, its done pretty well. Of course, the other surprise for most familiar with Chinese pop culture is seeing Jackson Yee do rather well in his role as Xiao Bei especially since he started out at a young age in a youth boy band TF Boys. Taking up this powerful role and delivering on a decent level and especially being able to act at the pace of Dongyu Zhou who is a much more seasoned actress with a lot of great and diverse roles under her belt, a few of them previously Friday Film Club picks, Us and Them and This Is Not What I Expected. Being the central role here, Chen Nian under Dongyu Zhou is done incredibly well. She is able to bring it to a good level of tension and connection especially with a character that doesn’t say a lot and the ability to play a high school senior while being in her mid-20s and making it believable to follow her devastating experience but still in all the bad still wanting to “protect the world” and points out how no one’s taught them about how to be an adult. The most touching line in the movie between Chen Nian and Xiao Bei when he says: “It’s a deal. You protect the world. I’ll protect you.”

Sure, Better Days has its issues especially for those not too familiar with Chinese films, it might bring in the elements of losing traction and shifting focus of the film and having some melodramatic moments as it loves to bring romance in any type of film. However, what Better Days does remind me a lot of is a 2004 Taiwanese series called The Outsiders (currently on Netflix if you want to check it out) which has a similar romantic arc. While it might not be for everyone, Better Days has its heart at the right place, shares an important topic of teen bullying in China and what has been done so far while also having a decent crime story to wrap up the whole thing. Definitely one to check out if you get a chance!