Thu, Dec 29, 2005 - Page 14 News List

Best CDs of 2005

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Jay Chou (周杰倫)

November's Chopin (十一月的蕭邦)

Sony

OK, sure, opting to give Taiwan's number one musical son the number one spot in this year's "Best CDs of 2005" review might be construed as favoritism, but when you take into consideration that Jay Chou's (周杰倫) November Chopin (十一月的蕭邦) clocked up sales of over 2.5 million in Asia, then top honors should come as no surprise.

For the most part the album saw Chou veering away from his tried-and-tested Mando-hip-hop format and instead opting to entertain with moody piano-and guitar-driven ballads.

The album's material might have left those fashion conscience teen-agers expecting more of the same old Chou, but older listeners were wowed by what was without a doubt Chou's most mature and soul-seeking album to date.

Based on sales alone Chou should easily regain his title as Taiwan's Best Male Singer at next year's Golden Melody Awards.

Jeff and Machi (黃立成 & 麻吉)

Superman (超人)

Warner

Ex-LA Boy Jeff Huang (黃立成) might lack the musical smarts of his Golden Melody Award winning brother, Stanley Huang (黃立行), but along with his hard hip-hopping sidekicks, Machi (麻吉), Huang has become the hottest hip-hop act in town.

Released in late November, the third album by Jeff and Machi once again saw Huang leading the way and giving voice to a mixed bag of mainstream hip-hop numbers.

While the album included some rather predictable numbers, the combo managed to freshen up its act on more than one occasion by escaping from the generic North American-like hip-hop sound.

By mixing it up with a few differing styles numbers like I Love Chou Hsing Hsing (我愛周星星) might not have been the best "East meets West" musical couplings of all times but they were undeniably some of the most inventive popular mainstream tunes of 2005.

Xiao Huang-chi (蕭煌奇)

Black Guitar (黑色吉他)

Axis

For the past two years blind singer/songwriter Xiao Huang-chi (蕭煌奇) has been nominated for Golden Melody Awards. Sadly he has never been the recipient of one the gaudy golden trophies.

His 2005 release, Black Guitar (黑色吉他), could change all this, however, as it is a truly great album that features some remarkably unique material.

The core of the material was folksy, but Xiao made the time to add an eclectic mix of musical genres to each and every tune. Black Guitar was, and still is, one of those rare albums that has got something for everyone, regardless of ones musical preferences.

From the Latino-vide fueled and lounge-like Disorderly Dance (情亂舞) to the The Kid From the Yuan Family (阮家那兩個囝仔), which employs a masterful off-center country and western beat, there wasn't a dud tune on the entire album.

Hopefully we'll be seeing Xiao at next years Golden Melody Awards and this time let us hope he actually walks away with a golden trophy rather then simply getting yet another pat on the back and a mildly condescending "well done" from the local music industry.

Wu Bai and China Blue

(伍佰 and China Blue)

Two Faced Man (雙面人)

Avex

Iconic Taiwanese rocker, Wu Bai (伍佰) and his occasionally overlooked band, China Blue ventured down a new musical path in 2005 when they released what is only their second Taiwanese-language longplayer in seven years, Two Faced Man (雙面人).

Out went the tried-and-tested rock/blues format and instead Wu Bai set out to capture the hearts and minds of the electonica/dance crowd with a mixed bag of numbers, nearly all of which came with loops, edits and a host of other dance music-like effects.

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