Kyrie Elesion/ A Big Mess /Adoration /Play /Zero to Hero /Surviving Leopards /RE: DT/ Summer Love Triangle /Miss Sweetie /Chinese Lady /Whose Oscar? /Love Needed /Your Song /Heroes
If you have been wondering if you should get David Tao's latest album 69 David Tao, my recommendation is get it. It is one of the most unpretentious chinese albums you will ever heard. It doesn't pretend to be the major work of a singer/songwriter or strived to be trendsetting with fusion of east-west mix. It doesn't have catchy poppy songs, samples of popular western hits or 'poetic' lyrics. It is just a fun album because the people who worked on it obviously had a lot of fun putting it all together. Listening one gets a lighthearted feeling & can't help tapping one's feet to the rhythm. It's like listening to a high-octane live concert. This album is all about the music, crisp, clear, FUN music! As with the title, the album is heavily influenced by music of the 60s & 70s so for some, it may sound 'alternative' cos it lacks the familiar pop sound of recent digitalised music. It can be a rather challenging album too as the sound is just so different from the mainstream. To really fully appreciate this album, you must have listened to the music of Queen, Eagles, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Rolling Stones & of cos Beatles just to mention a few. The big surprise is that he referenced Queen quite a bit. I think it could be that Freddie Mercury is one of the few Asian musicians who made such a big impact in the west.
He makes quite a few statements in this album & the biggest is his disappointment & losing faith in the Chinese music industry. The most obvious is in Whose Oscar? which is actually a reworking of the cm song he wrote for Icetea in China. Just so DT, to use a commercial song to refute the ppl around him who think he is not conforming to the entertainment standards in order to remain popular. Oscar is probably a cheeky reference to the many chinese music award shows with meaningless awards. Chinese Lady is such an infectious song that makes you wanna get up & boogie but is he talking abt the continual objectification of chinese women? The intro of the album is my fav, a litany called Kyrie Eleison which is Greek for 'Lord have mercy'. This litany was quite often used during the 60s as an antiwar protest. The most popular was probably Mr Mister's Kyrie. David's version is more traditional & a great way to start off an album with a strong 60s rock & roll influence. The litany synced into A Big Mess reminscent of Tonight's News syncing into Dear God in Black Tangerine.
As expected critics are dismissive of this album with their usual complaint that DT is capable of more to which he replied in Whose Oscar that he is not their ideal support & not to depend on him for 'pride'. Perhaps it's appropriate that he ended the album with Heroes with the aftermath of Lui Xiang failing to qualify in the Beijing Olympics. Lui Xiang was supposed to succeed not only for himself but for an entire country as well as for 'chinese pride', but it is unfair & unreasonable to expect one man to carry all that burden. Besides Lui Xiang has already proved that he is a hero by becoming the first chinese athlete to win a gold Olympic medal in hurdles. So the expectation for David to once again prove that he is the 'chinese music godfather' & come up with an album that would rejuvenate the chinese music industry is also unrealistic. Besides one should not judge an album by the singer's past works.
Also as I expected, most critics mentioned his age as if that should matter. They felt that this album is too 'young' for a 40 year old singer. Perhaps they forgot that Michael Jackson came up with Invincible when he was 45? While most critics did said that it was not up to MJ previous standard, they would never mentioned his age nor insinuate the album was too 'young'. No wonder DT is so disappointed with the chinese music industry when the level of music criticism stooped to such puerile juvenile comments as well as ageism. Only good thing is they cannot compare him to Jay Chou since it's not r&b, so they compare him to Wubai whose rock music is probably the only kind they know. One critic even said that if David wants to do rock music, he should listen to Wubai.
With nothing else to criticise since the music production is excellent, the critics fall back on their pet peeve, David's lyrics. Maybe they should go & listen to John Lennon's lyrics or Jimi Hendrix's If 6 is 9. Don't they realise that sometimes lyrics should also follow the flow of the music. Music should be an audio experience from the melody of the song to the singer's voice then to the lyrics. If one needs lyrics that read like poetry to appreciate a song, then something is terribly wrong with either the melody or the singer's ability to move his audience. I have always felt that David's lyrics, written with the help of talented lyricsts like WaWa & Francis Lee, blended into his songs & music so well. He used the lyrics like musical instruments along with his voice to express the feelings in his songs. Since he is not a very poetic person nor is his Mandarin of a very high level, most of his lyrics has been very simple and direct.
As many fans have felt, this could be DT's last album for a long while as one can detect vry strongly from this album that he is determined to have a go at making his own movies. I think he tried to do both but felt that it would compromise both his integrity as a songwriter & a director of movies. And you know what? I used to think that he should stick to music but after listening to this album, I know that I should let him go. He does not have the heart to do music in this kind of environment where he is always being compared & where the charts are always being manipulated. He remains one of the very very very few singer/composers who stick to doing music wholeheartedly with success. Maybe you don't like his music, but you cannot accuse him of selling out on music.
David appeared in a press conference yesterday, watch here. There are also 2 versions of Zero to Hero mv, one that is like a mini-musical & pure joy to watch & a KTV version. His mini-movie Adoration is set to be released in cinemas in Taipei on 9/6.