Monday, 11 February 2013

Hong Kong Music: Best of 2012

This is the third year in this series of posts, I really do enjoy making them even though they take up a huge amount of my time. When I first started this series I envisaged myself doing this for the next 10 years and wrapping it up with a decade long post identifying the best of Cantopop from 2010-2019. As crazy as that sounds this is the third year so I'm on my way there! But sorry I haven't posted lately, I really don't have much time nowadays considering these big recap posts take up a lot of my blogging capacity. Anyway 2012 was a strong year in Cantopop with a lot of meaningful songs and a resurgence of some familiar faces. Lets begin the countdown of celebrating a year of eclecticism.

Best Music Video
Starting us off is the best MV. I have reinstated this award, though condensed it to 5, because there have been a few MVs of note. There isn't really a criteria to what makes a good MV but the most important thing is that the MV adds another layer to the song which becomes synonymous with it. Previous winners of this award have been controversial MVs which captured the attention of the viewer but a good MV doesn't need to be controversial, if it invokes emotion it is a good MV!

Tat Ming Pair
達明一派 - 排名不分先後左右忠奸2012


Before we get onto the Top 5 I just wanted to post this amusing MV. If you do not follow Hong Kong news then this would just be a crazy psychedelic ensemble but the way this song and MV are put together is a lighthearted way of poking fun at some of the most prolific people of Hong Kong. Either way this MV put a smile on my face so I hope it will do that for you as well.

Twins - 旅遊書

This MV is not a visual masterpiece by any means but I find that their MVs always manage to put a smile on my face. Watching them is like a reminder of what Hong Kong music was 10 years ago when I first started listening to it. I like the concept of the video a lot and it's a nice video displaying their friendship.

Gigi Leung
梁詠琪 - Butterfly Kisses


I recently went to Barcelona but this MV just makes me want to go back. The shots are stunning and fit perfectly with the style of the MV. There were a number of MVs this year that were filmed abroad but this is my favourite.

Miriam Yeung
楊千嬅 - 翅膀下的風

The movement of the dancer so aptly follows the lyrics of this track. Whilst I'm not entirely a fan of the shooting of the MV, something even simpler would have been nicer, the emotional performance by the dancer under the spotlight is just mesmerising.

Khalil Fong 
方大同 - BB88

Something about Khalil Fong being attacked by a plethora of women is highly amusing. This MV has the usual Khalil humour and is a joy to watch again and again.

Fiona Sit
薛凱琪 - Better Me

The best MVs are normally the simplest ones and this shows my point perfectly. This song is full of hope and emotion and is beautifully presented by two Fiona's. The Fiona on the left represents her depression at the start but she slowly joins the Fiona on the right in singing the lyrics showing how Fiona herself fought off those negative thoughts, truly embodying the name of the track.

15 Artistes to Watch Out For

This is a list of 15 artistes whom I believe capture an eclectic mix of underrated styles in Cantopop. The 15 here range from superstars to little known newbies all in the hope of promoting a range of styles that mark a rise in a progressive Cantopop style.

In no particular order,

Ellen Loo


Ellen's sound is effortlessly cool and current.

Recommended Tracks: 你根本不是我的誰, 卡嚓, 活該活該, 誰


Terence Siufay


Siufay's powerful voice is perfect for big ballads.

Recommended Tracks: 一首歌

Eman Lam


Eman's vocals always share a hint of femininity.

Recommended Tracks: Wanna be, 玫瑰奴隸, 驚人

Sandy Lam


Though a superstar, with many a hit, Sandy is not afraid to experiment.

Recommended Tracks: 無淚眼, 無言歌, 下雨天

Charmaine Fong


She has an alternative pop sound and I love her for it.

Recommended Tracks: Life Is So Beautiful, 我Like你

Khloe Chu


One of her recent plugs experimented with Opera, now that's a feat for Cantopop!

Recommended Tracks: 悲劇序曲, 愛得太少

Gin Lee


Diva in the sense that Gin can sing like there's no tomorrow.

Recommended Tracks: 1st date, Falling, 今天終於一人回家, 我不是你的觀賞魚

Vincy Chan


Vincy is finding her way back into mainstream with her emotionally expressive vocals.

Recommended Tracks: 一天一天, 清空, 哪裡

Joyce Cheng


Joyce is like a 90s Cantopop star but she mixes it with a current twist.

Recommended Tracks: Miss You, 愛沒如果, 渺小

Det Di


Det traverses many genres and fields. Watchout for what he might do out next.

Recommended Tracks: 乘著光影戀愛, 傻瓜機

Bianca Wu


Bianca is the most well known mainstream jazz musician in Hong Kong because she performs so effervescently.

Recommended Tracks: 遇見舊情人, 醒來

William Chan


Though not very popular and in its infancy, William leads the current crop of dance artistes.

Recommended Tracks: Pop It Up, 女皇, 我是誰



A very interesting and sexy sound, a surprise find for me.

Recommended Tracks: Lolli, 我跟你的三分鐘長吻

Tat Ming Pair


A look back at the good old days, Anthony and Tats are still fighting strong.

Recommended Tracks: 排名不分先後左右忠奸2012

Paul Wong


Rock revival has arrived in Hong Kong and Paul is leading the way.

Recommended Songs: Don't Wake Me Up, 天與地, 年少無知, 紅黑紅紅黑

Best Newcomer

There have been a plethora of newcomers this year with varying amounts of success. A range of solo artistes, groups and bands have chosen 2012 to debut among them are a large number of girl groups, inspired no less by the Korean wave. I can tell you now none of those girl groups have made my list of Top 10 newcomers but if you insist on testing the waters I'd recommend trying Super Girls, who I think have the most pronounced sound, and artistic direction out of the lot.

Anyway here are the Top 10,

German Ku

German is an alumni of Asian Million Star on ATV, I've seen him in a few performances on ATV but it was one of his singles that really pulled me in to place him on this list even though I'm not sure if he's considered as a 2012 newcomer.

Recommended Tracks: 古著


Closer is formed of Deep, Ryan, Johnny and Masaki. Deep is one of those hidden gems in Cantopop. This year he started the band, Closer, adding to the ever growing "bandsound" field in the Cantopop scene.

Recommended Tracks: 上車, 明白

Robynn and Kendy

They made quite a splash at the start of the year but I only bothered to listen to them near the end. They are a sweet duo and a much needed inclusion into the group scene, I like their acoustic performances much more than their singles.

Recommended Tracks: 不要太趕, 翻牆

Alex Lam

This year has seen a number of strong male newcomers, Alex is one of them. He has an intriguing voice that has a lot of potential. His music as yet hasn't been a major hit with me but I think that Alex could change that.

Recommended Tracks: 地球保衛者, 新婚快樂

Jay Fung

Jay was part of The Voice on TVB but has made huge in-roads in the industry, most impressively charting well on CRHK despite their seeming distaste for all things TVB. He has a simple style matched with catchy tunes and is another singer going down the one man and his guitar route.

Recommended Tracks: 今天開始, 夜半敲門

Adason Lo

It seems like he has been a fan favourite for ages but he's only officially a newcomer in 2012. Adason is another alumni from Asian Million Star. I really like the depth in his vocals which bring a very rich tone to his tracks.

Recommended Tracks: 雙子情歌, 無所謂


A surprise hit for me. I didn't really know who goldEN were until I reviewed the year but I really liked 重頭戲, which could have made my Top 20 if I included newcomer tracks in that list. They don't seem to be making that much impact in the industry but they're a good duo.

Recommended Tracks: 足金金猴, 重頭戲

Wendy Zheng

I only started listening to Wendy when I was reviewing the year, which is a shame since she has an amazing voice. That slight raspy sound works so well when she sings in Mandarin. She really has potential to straddle both the Cantopop and Mandopop market. I wish her luck.

Recommended Tracks: 夏天事變, 情謎

Hubert Wu

Another The Voice alumni, he has been a favourite of mine ever since he was on the show. He finished runner up to Mag Lam but only started gaining traction recently. I think he has very smooth vocals and sings decently live, if he continues on this track I can see a future star.

Recommended Tracks: 一生一心, 明日, 雙飛

Sita Chan

Shiga, Mag now Sita - the girls are fighting strong. It was hard for anyone to beat Sita out of this spot since I had noticed her even before she debuted. I really like the emotion she packs into her vocals. 忘川 and 蜚蜚 were two of my favourite songs this year, well done Sita!

Recommended Tracks: 忘川, 蜚蜚

Best Group/Band


Rubberband dropped out of my Top 5 list last year and really was on the verge of this list this year as well since I didn't really like any of their plugs but I do like their sound it's just that they haven't really found a track that works for me yet. Anyway Rubberband is still Hong Kong's most famous band, that has got to deserve some recognition.

Recommended Tracks: 睜開眼, 豬籠墟事變

Supper Moment

I may be slightly biased on this but I placed them this high because they had one song which I really quite liked. Despite the recent resurgence of the Hong Kong "bandsound" I'm still finding it hard to nominate five worthy band/groups in this list thus Supper Moment might have leapfrogged a stage in their short careers.

Recommended Tracks: 小伙子, 過後

C Allstar

C Allstar is undeniably one of the most popular groups in Cantopop with their meaningful lyrics and smooth vocals. I've not yet found a plug which I truly love but it's always a pleasure to review their number of works. That's why C Allstar managed to make their mark on my Top 5 list.

Recommended Tracks: 切膚之痛, 別讓小島沉沒, 少數


Mr. loses their top spot! I am still a fan of Mr. mind you but this year was not their strongest and I feel like I'm missing their sound in their debut days. I wonder what 2013 will have in stall for them saying that 昨天 is quickly becoming one of my favourite songs of 2012.

Recommended Tracks: 方向感, 昨天

Dear Jane

And at 1st place is another all male ensemble. Dear Jane came 4th in this list last year but skyrocketed to No.1 with a recent surge in popularity because of two big hits. Good job Dear Jane, you've finally conquered this spot after so many years.

Recommended Tracks: Yellow Fever, 到此為止, Goodbye

Best Female

Ivana Wong

Ivana had a breakthrough year in 2011, making it all the way to the second spot last year. This year she has quietened down but she has already solidified her spot as a first line artist and with a few strong plugs she's already left a deep enough impact on my mind to grant her the 5th spot.

Recommended Tracks: 生命之花, 下次愛你, 留白


G.E.M. has had the strongest year in her career since her debut in my opinion. She is starting to grow into a much more mature sound. She is a hit with overseas fans, had a smash hit plug and a huge following but one thing that irks me is how her team are charging $1280 for her VIP concert tickets. Though this is not her fault I feel like they are trying to give her too big a boot to fill since only "superstars" command that price in Hong Kong.

Recommended Tracks: What Have U Done, Someday I'll Fly

Kary Ng

Kary has fledged into a beautiful songstress and the future face of Cantopop. She has moved up one spot from 4th last year because of her growing repertoire solidifying her status as a first line artist and one who is a joy to listen to. By the way out of all the artistes I think Kary has provided us with the best set of MVs, all are slickly done and provide a range of styles.

Recommended Tracks: The Present, 人非草木, 告白, 狠狠

Fiona Sit

Fiona has had a breakout year. I haven't really been a fan since her debut but her range of tracks this year have blown me away. I hope her move to Sun Entertainment doesn't effect the quality of her tracks that befits Warner.

Recommended Tracks: 倒刺, All You Need Is Me, Better Me, 冷笑話

Joey Yung

Joey remains at the top. Every year I have made this list Joey has fought off difficult competition, 2010 was Kay, 2011 was Ivana and 2012 was Fiona but why does Joey always stay on top? Simply because of her breadth of music, very few manage to produce such a range of tracks as Joey does each year (though Fiona came very close this year). I think 2013 will be an interesting year in the fight for female No.1 with Ivana, Kary, G.E.M, Fiona and possibly Kay also back in contention.

Recommended Tracks: 给你, 加大力度, 正好, 蜉蝣, 霧裡看花, 追風箏的風箏, 雙子情歌

Best Male

Leo Ku

Leo manages to scrape into the 5th spot with a mini-resurgence in his music. His two main plugs are decent though lack the quality of his peak but it's definitely a step back in the right direction.

Recommended Tracks: 戀無可戀, 告別我的戀人們

Khalil Fong

Khalil drops slightly to 4th simply because it was difficult to replicate the success he had with 15. Last year was what made Khalil a true contender against Eason but whilst he falls short this year he's still producing tracks with effortless R&B/Soul style.

Recommended Tracks: BB88, 千紙鶴, 情勝策略

Pakho Chau

Pakho is now part of the elite, ranking higher than labelmate Khalil! He has slowly forged his way to the top among a crowded field in the 2007 male newcomers list. Warner has supported him well and now they boast one of the most successful and popular crop of artistes in Hong Kong.

Recommended Tracks: 只有一事不成全你, 斬立決, 無力挽回

Raymond Lam

Raymond re-enters the Top 5 after a disastrous drop because of Chok. Now sitting precariously in the 2nd spot I know there'll be a lot questioning his high placement but I think Raymond has really solidified himself as a Cantopop mainstay this year.

Recommended Tracks: Because of You, 同林, 幼稚完, 頑石

Eason Chan

Eason regains his No.1 position after losing it to Khalil's fantastic 2011. This year is definitely Eason's with a variety of strong tracks that celebrate current and past Cantopop styles.

Recommended Tracks: 信任, 完, 重口味

Best Song

Ella Koon

官恩娜 - 相對時空

After being on the cusp of this list for the past two years Ella finally lands at No.20 with 相對時空. The melancholy track is topped off beautifully by Ella's vocals. 相對時空 caps off a series of great tracks by Ella forging her way into this list by her continued success. I'm excited to hear from Ella now she's at Warner as they have one of the best teams there.

Wilfred Lau 

劉浩龍 - 爛命鴛鴦

There is no doubt Wilfred benefited on the charts with his recent slew of press but underlining his recent resurgence is actually an established singer who has been long forgotten by the charts. I am glad to see Wilfred gaining momentum and 爛命鴛鴦 is a worthy comeback track for Wilfred displaying his ability to instigate emotion. Wilfred is also developing a much more unique sound compared to his debut days. Eric Kwok's stamp is all over this track, it's a great collaboration.

Kay Tse 

謝安琪 - 臨崖勒馬

Kay has suffered a few set backs in her career recently, the most obvious being her messy change in label from Cinepoly to Stars Shine. This year Kay only released one plug which is from her album last year but it is enough to keep her streak in my Top 20 list with 脆弱 and 你們的幸福 charting at No.1 in 2010 and No.12 in 2011 respectively. 臨崖勒馬 is an emotional song that is performed brilliantly by Kay, I just hope Kay continues her pursuit of meaningful music because she has been sorely missed this year.

Jinny Ng

吳若希 - 第一天失戀

Jinny has come a long way from 9th in my 2010 newcomers list to a Top 20 track in 2012! What I like about this song is the quirks in her performance which define this song. These slight quirks were already evident in her debut songs but it is these oddities which make her music memorable compared to the crowded Cantopop market.

Sherman Chung 

鍾舒漫 - 代你出手

Sherman really didn't stand out for me this year until I started reviewing all the songs and this track came up. After a few listens I was hooked. It has a very classic Sherman sound and is a simple and catchy track, perfect for karaoke. I feel that Sherman's career is really lounging right now, EEG just has too many artistes, especially female, for them to devote enough time on Sherman.


Mr. - 昨天

I think Mr.'s peak of 2008-2009 is behind them, their sound then was much more distinct I feel. However 昨天 is an emotional retrospective on childhood that really touched me the more I listened to it. It is a distinct contrast to their previous hits 黑色狂迷 and 零時起哄 which charted in my Top 20 displaying Mr.'s ability to straddle the sub-genres of rock.

Ellen Loo

盧凱彤 - 你根本不是我的誰

Ellen's effervescent sound has always struck a chord with me. 你根本不是我的誰 is a sensationally cool track that weaves Ellen's distinctive vocals with a mix of folktronica and Cantopop. Ellen's effortlessly swooning vocal is perfect to listen to when you just feel like relaxing and being carefree.

Another Worthy Choice: 誰

Vincy Chan

泳兒 - 清空

Like Sherman Vincy has hit a brick wall in her career which I believe is down to EEG. For the past few years Vincy has been stuck but this year I think Vincy is starting to experiment with a new sound. The more I hear 清空 the more I like it, I think it is one of her strongest tracks, who knows it might have made my Top 10 if I listened to it more.

Khalil Fong

方大同 - BB88

This track has the signature Khalil cool in it and is very catchy. Khalil's soulful yet upbeat performance brings me back to 玩樂, one of my favourite Khalil songs. In both songs you can appreciate Khalil's swooning voice leading to some immense foot-tapping!

Shiga Lin + Dear Jane

連詩雅 + Dear Jane - 到此為止


到此為止 is a beautiful ballad sung both by Shiga and Dear Jane, the two renditions contrast yet match together perfectly. Shiga has been one of my favourite new Cantopop artistes since her debut. The heartfelt performance by Shiga really captures the lyrics really well.

note. I tried to embed Dear Jane's version on here but it hasn't worked so I highly recommend you find it on youtube.

Another Worthy Choice: 好好過 (Shiga) Goodbye (Dear Jane)

Louis Cheung and Ivana Wong

張繼聰/王菀之 - 生命之花

Ivana was very quiet for most of the year until her controversial track 留白 and this beautiful duet popped into the frame. The music and arrangement of this song is very emotional and sung beautifully by Ivana and Louis. It is very touching ballad. It is Louis' first feature on this series of posts.

Another Worthy Choice: 下次愛你 (Ivana)

Gin Lee

李幸倪 - 今天終於一人回家

This is what I'm talking about. Gin's debut was a disappointment but this year she has released a number of Top 20 worthy songs. She has the potential to make it really big in the industry with her powerful yet heartfelt voice. In this song I especially love the chorus where Gin's emotions are truly felt.

Another Worthy Choice: Falling

Kary Ng

吳雨霏 - 狠狠

It seems like nothing can stop Kary's relentless drive to becoming the next big thing in Cantopop. After taking over Kay's spot as Cinepoly's "Big Sister" Kary has grown from strength to strength releasing a varied range of songs, my favourite being 狠狠. It is a sexy and catchy track, this is a perfect cantopop dance song.

Raymond Lam

林峯 - 頑石

Raymond's music is starting to mature with 頑石 being his most accomplished track since his debut. There was no question to me that Raymond had great vocals it was just the problem of finding good music to back it up, whilst 頑石 isn't groundbreaking it is a good track for Raymond's vocals. Raymond, never go back to Deal!

Another Worthy Choice: 同林


鄧紫棋 - What Have U Done

What Have U Done blew a hole through the charts, it's definitely a very interesting track, performed powerfully by G.E.M. She has also been in the news prominently lately because of her outspoken nature, as well as her not speaking enough, which is quite ironic. I just hope all this press dies down as underneath it all is an artist who has genuine talent.

Another Worthy Choice: Someday I'll Fly

Alfred Hui

許廷鏗 - 面具

Alfred has really found his niche. He has one of the best teams behind him managing to release track after track of catchy, melancholic, pop tracks. 面具 is one of his most mature works, whilst it still holds onto the classic Cantopop style it is undeniably catchy and easy to the ears.

Pakho Chau

周柏豪 - 只有一事不成全你

This is a very powerful track by Pakho who composed it also. The string segment really heightens the emotional aspect of this track, I am just a sucker for orchestral instrumentals! Orchestra plus melancholic Cantopop music talking about life and death hits me every time.

Another Worthy Choice: 斬立決

Joey Yung

容祖兒 - 霧裡看花

Joey has focused her efforts on her Mandarin songs this year and out of those I think 霧裡看花 is her most successful. The track weaves emotion with an ability to make you smile. I feel that Joey needs more love from the Mandarin market as she has produced a few good hits already but her future there seems hazy.

Another Worthy Choice: 加大力度

Fiona Sit

薛凱琪 - Better Me

This song wasn't one of Fiona's plugs but it is so good that I had to break away from tradition and include it here. It's such an emotional song performed brilliantly by Fiona. This song caps off Fiona's amazing year having released a plethora of decent yet varied tracks.

Another Worthy Choice: 倒刺

Eason Chan

陳奕迅 - 重口味

2012 was a year where Cantopop looked back to its former stars for inspiration but none of them did it as well as Eason Chan. 重口味 has a very classic Cantopop sound written none other than Wyman Wong with music by Eric Kwok and Jerald Chan. This funky track is so catchy and upbeat it caps off a great year of Cantopop.

Another Worthy Choice: 

This year I'm also going to celebrate the production staff. Using my Top 20 list as the basis here are the Best Composer, Arranger, Lyricist and Producer of 2012.

Best Composer - Eric Kwok
Best Arranger - Johnny Yim
Best Lyricist - Wyman Wong
Best Producer - Schumann Lee

If you are interested in the previous editions here are the links.

2011 -
2010 -