Archive for May, 2008

Kenji Wu: Poems For You

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

With the latest album – “Poems For You”, Kenji turns into a poet, a rebellious student (he sure looks like it), learns to play piano and writing poems for the girl he had a crush on…

“Poems For You” (Wei Ni Xie Shi) starts with a “twinkle twinkle little star” verse, and turns into a sweet, fast-tempo, yet romantic pop song. Easily the kind of song that tops the chart.

“Holding Hands” (Qian Qian Qian Shou) is the only true sentimental song of the album. The usual dose of romance but totally irresitable.

“My Biography” (Wo De Zhi Zhuan) is the song you normally want to skip,but after a few listening, you couldn’t stop listening to it. It’s a very slow rap about the journey of Kenji Wu. It sounds really different and somehow I love it.

The final track, “Couldn’t Close My Eyes” (Yan Jin Bi Bu Zhao) is written for a fans, who is also a cancer patient. Kenji uses the post rock style to instill love and hope: “let’s sing this song together..”.

Like always, Kenji takes on the task of composing every single songs of the album, including lyrics. This time, he injects more sentimental elements, while not losing his usual playful, witty and naughty style of music. The results? The album ranks no.1 in the sales chart for 7 consecutives weeks. Half of the tracks (five songs) from the same album also ranked in the top 10 in KTV chains for the “most song requests” (which breaks a record). Crowd loves it.

I have to say, I’m deeply impressed with Kenji’s unlimited source of inspiration (his creative juice just doesn’t seemed to run out), and surprise us once again. “Poems For You” simply rocks. It’s an album you couldn’t missed – and will stay in your playlist for years to come.

Track Listing:
1. Poems For You (Wei Ni Xie Shi)
2. Holding Hands (Qian Qian Qian Shou)
3. Valentines (Qing Ren Jie)
4. What Things (Shen Me Dong Xi)
5. Love is getting harder (Yue Ai Yue Nan Guo)
6. Music Let Me Says (Yin Yue Rang Wo Shuo)
7. I Don’t Care (Wo Bu Guan)
8. Dong (Move)
9. My Biography (Wo De Zhi Zhuan)
10. Couldn’t Close My Eyes (Yan Jin Bu Bi Zao)

p/s: My review since waaaaaaaaaaaay back. Cheers!

Small Business Branding… An Army of You

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Just because you run a small business, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to think about branding. Even if you are so small that you yourself are your only employee, branding is vital. Furthermore, it doesn’t have to break your budget. Sounds good, doesn’t it? So maybe you’re fired up and ready to go out and brand yourself and your product or service. That’s Great! But first you need to define the problem—you need to know and understand what branding is.

Branding, essentially, is the process of differentiating your company—or yourself, if you are a company of one—from your competition in the hearts and minds of your customers and potential customers. Your goal, ultimately, is to build customer loyalty. No doubt you can see the value of that, no matter how small your business.
Many people have a corporate-centric view of how business works. After all, b-schools and textbooks all tend to emphasize big businesses as case studies. Major corporations are given as examples of all theories. You may, as many people do, have the die that in order to be successful you must project the attitude of a big business. This idea that you must project bigness in order to convince your customers and potential customers that you can deliver goods and services better than your competitors is not only not true, it’s potentially detrimental.

Charlemagne, when faced with a battle wherein he was substantially outnumbered and an all but hopeless situation, allegedly said, “let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky.” The meaning is clear enough—use the landscape around you to your advantage. This strategy, in business terms, can be translated to look around you, figure out what your situation is, and figure out what aspects of your reality you can turn into your strengths.

First and foremost, if you are a small business or a sole proprietor, stop being ashamed of your (lack of size). Size matters, but it isn’t always an advantage. Nothing says, “we don’t care about you” than bigness. Have you ever dealt directly with a major corporation? How did you feel? Chances are, you felt lost in the shuffle.
Maybe you’ve dealt with one of the better-run, customer-focused corporations. Have you noticed that these big, faceless corporations go out of their way to personalize their business, to make your interaction with them feel like a one on one interaction with an individual person? Well, you’re already an individual. Make that work to your advantage.

As a sole proprietor or small business, your smallness is actually an asset and should be part of your brand. You deal directly with customers. You are the one who gets things done, or sees directly to it that things get done. As a sole proprietor, you are the sales department, the marketing department, production, billing, and accounting. You are the business—use that fact to your advantage, and stop trying to act like a big company.

Yuan Wei Jue Xing (Awaking): No Money Still Be Happy

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

It has been over two years since we last heard from Wesley and Jay of the duo Awaking (元衛覺醒). In the past two years they have experienced many changes, including a label change to EMI. Another notable change is the style of their music. Although not a drastic change, it seems that they have drifted a bit from their infusion of folk music with hip hop and rock to more of a pop-rock sound. In my opinion, it was good change. This change can be attributed to their month long stay in the US, while they wrote and recorded the songs on the album. Their experiences, hardships and growth can be felt while listening to album.

下流社會 (Lower Class Society) is the title track and representative for the theme of the album. The song is very lively and fun while expressing the greatness of being young and poor. Hence the album title: No Money Still Be Happy. Even if we are living in a “Lower Class Society” we should take pride in what we have and enjoy life as it is.

分手禮 (Breakup Ceremony) is a slower paced song with the song title pretty self-explanatory. The way Awaking is able to present the song is almost as if they are telling a story with beginning, middle and end. By the end of the song, its almost as if I had experienced it as well.

駝鳥 (Ostrich) and 梧桐 (Chinese Parasol/Phoenix Tree) are very similar in sound and feel which is perhaps why I enjoy all three songs.

機車人生 (Life On A Motorbike) is a very chill song. The beginning of the song reminds me of my days at the skating rink. The throwback to the 70’s era is refreshing but they are still able to keep it 2008.

給我一槍 (Give Me A Shot) is a very generic song churned out of the music mill. It sounds similar to many songs I’ve heard before with verse and catchy chorus but not much else. Although I enjoy the song, I wish they could have put in a little more effort to make the song “their own” since they have so much talent and style.

像個小孩 (Like a Child) and 只要一秒在一起 (Just Want One Second Together) are my favorite/recommended songs from the album. Much like “Breakup Ceremony” and the others, it is impossible to not become caught in the emotion and sentiment of the song. As I have mentioned before, Awaking has an uncanny ability to bring the song to life and engulf the listener. The lyrics aren’t even close to the level of Vincent Fang but they are simple and easy to relate to.

飛向你 只要一秒在一起
Flying with you, (I) only want one second together
哪怕是眼光 不小心撞擊
Even if it is careless judgment and (we) accidently collide
我決定封鎖秘密 就算已死心塌地
I’ve decided to seal the secrets, even if it means giving up

The simplicity of the lyrics makes you realize that not everything in life needs to be complicated. “Only Want One Second Together” and perhaps that may be just enough.

Songs to avoid: 虹彩她妹妹 (Coloring Her Sister Multicolored) and 笑掉江湖 (Laughing Away Society). To me the digitally produced music is just so much noise it distracts from the actual song. To the point where it could be unbearable and downright annoying. The title track comes pretty close to falling into this category.

In conclusion, this is obviously not album of the year but it is a good investment if you’re looking for something relaxing and easy to listen to. The songs and style are nothing new, but Awaking is able to enliven the pop-rock genre with quality material.

Rating: 7/10

1.笑掉江湖Xiao Diao Jiang Hu (Laughing Away Society)
2.下流社会Xia Liu She Hui (Lower Class Society)
3.分手礼Fen Shou Li (Breakup Ceremony)
4.驼鸟Tuo Niao (Ostrich)
5.机车人生Ji Che Ren Sheng (Life on a Motorbike)
6.给我一枪Gei Wo Yi Qiang (Give Me A Shot)
7.像个小孩Xiang Ge Xiao Hai (Like a Child)
8.虹彩她妹妹Hong Cai Ta Mei Mei (Coloring Her Sister Multicolored)
9.只要一秒在一起Zhi Yao Yi Miao Zai Yi Qi (Only Want One Second Together)
10.梧桐Wu Tong (“Chinese Parasol”/Phoenix Tree)