Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hong Kong's Classic TV Theme Song Playlist: Based on a Tracklist

Okay, so I made a playlist and typed out all the song titles and artist names in English (or English romanization at least) until BAM! I accidentally hit the delete key, which ripped off half my document. Damn, I knew I should've kept that back-up. Oh well, mental note for next time. Anyway, this really isn't so much a playlist but a tracklist from a covers CD of HK TV theme songs. I mean just look above. Pretty much all the shots are from "The Bund", which is slightly misleading, I guess. And if you told me that Kent Tong was gonna be bald 20 years ago, I would've just laughed myself silly.

Note: No. 12 from this list of  clips won't be in the video playlist above since the uploader has disabled embed tags, but you can still watch the others. To watch the whole thing on YouTube click here, otherwise you can just watch the playlist above and/or click on the individual links below for each video. 

1. "Shanghai Bund" - Frances Yip (Theme from "The Bund")
Okay, every good artist has a signature song and for Frances Yip, this was it. Being created by partners-in-crime composer Joseph Koo and lyricist James Wong, coupled with the power chords of Frances Yip and being tagged onto a historical TV drama was a recipe for instant success. The songwriting duo once mentioned that no one could ever sing this song like Frances Yip, and that no other voice could be more suitable. I do not beg to differ. 

2. "All Kinds of Sentiments" - Frances Yip (Theme from "The Bund")
Apparently, this was another award-winning hit from Joseph Koo and James Wong from "The Bund". This song is just another example of an epic masterpiece which makes use of a dramatic beginning that captures the attention of the audience. Frances Yip places all the right type of emotions in all the right places. She really is a powerhouse when it comes to belting, yet she has a lot of control over her voice when nothing more but a gentle whisper is needed. 

3. "The Brothers" - Roman Tam (Theme from "The Brothers")
This rather doting song about familial love (which is closer to the literal meaning of the song title) is really something different to the standard romantic love songs offered to us on a silver platter. Roman always stressed the need for clear pronunciation when singing and stood strong with his beliefs; sending us a message as clear as a bell. 

4. "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" - Teresa Cheung (Theme from "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly")
This song definitely brings flashbacks of Chow Yun Fat and Carol "Dodo" Cheng's characters from the series. There's no wordy-yet-meaningless lyrics here, just good old-fashioned simple lyrics that really hit straight to the heart, with a slow, haunting but beautiful melody that builds up and winds down to give you something more than a lot of songs produced today ever could. Sometimes less is more.    

5. "Sandwich Man" - Adam Cheng (Theme from "Sandwich Man")
Although another composition from the legendary music heavyweight Joseph Koo, this song doesn't really stand out as one of his more memorable classics. Sure, the song may be up-beat and sung by Adam Cheng but I seem to remember more about the short series (it was only 20 episodes long) and the untimely death of Barbara Yung (who starred in the series) and had such a short career in the limelight.

6. "You're the One Who Decides to Love " - Jenny Tseng (Theme from "The Radio Tycoon")
This was one of those catchy, up-beat theme songs which happened to work. Well, worked for me anyway. It's easily recognizable with its opening "Sha-la-la-la" chorus-like sounds at the beginning of the song.

7. "Heart Debt" - Anita Mui (Theme from "Soldier of Fortune")
Another classic from a gone-but-not-forgotten singer, Anita Mui. When Anita went into the studio to record this song, James Wong and Joseph Koo were worried that she might not be able to get the song right, being a newcomer that had just passed 18. However, being the super-talented singer she was, she only did one take for the recording and got it right the first time.

8. "Wilderness Entraps Heroes" - Johnny Yip (Theme from "Dynasty")
This was actually featured in ATV's series starring Michelle Yim and David Chiang quite some time ago. Meaning about 20+ years ago. But it's really catchy.

9. "People in the Shadows" - Michael Kwan (Theme from "People In The Shadows")
Actually, I wouldn't note this in my personal favorites or anything but it's just on the tracklist and for completeness, I thought I should include it. It actually sounds like it would be an exciting song with the dramatic entry which slows down. It's not a bad song but I just don't find it that interesting either. And the fact that it's supposed to be a song linked to a drama that's got to do with triads and underground societies, it should really be more exciting.

10."Reincarnated" - Michael Kwan (Theme from "Reincarnated")
Yes! That's what I'm talking about. Those catchy theme songs that are used for Wuxia/Mohap series'. You know the type. The type that Michael Kwan was particularly good at singing.

11. "Gone With The Wind" - Johnny Yip (Theme from "Gone With The Wind")
This song really isn't my cup of tea, as you could probably tell. It's just too leisurely for me (pace-wise and lyric-wise). Like a stroll in the park.
Or like leaves floating in the wind. I guess that's what the song title and the song sounds like.

12. "Walk With Me Through Wind and Frost" - Teresa Teng (Theme from "The Family")
I actually like this one theme song featuring the late but great Teresa Teng who was known for her sweet but melancholy voice. Her voice in my opinion fits really well with the song, like a match made in heaven. I suppose the song title would be closer to the figurative meaning of wind and rain equalling hardship than frost, but the emotion's all there, in the song.

13. "Hard to Endure Parting Tears" - Adam Cheng (Theme from "In Search Of")
Yes, I'll admit I think that Patrick Tse (father of bad boy Nicholas Tse) was one of those actors who had a lot of stage presence. And this song by Adam Cheng, who has sung many, many theme songs really added to the whole show.

14. "Aiming High" - Willie Fung (Theme from "The Emissary") 
A police-themed series using electric guitar riffs and whatnot. Oh this series had Andy Lau in it too.

15. "Turning Into All Kinds of Hate"- Ying-Hung Lau (Theme from "Reincarnation")
I very much like the original of this song and I highly doubt that many of the singers in TVB today could even sing a verse of this song without screwing up.

16. "Tear Drops on the Journey" - Annabelle Lui & Michael Kwan (Insert Song from "People in the Shadows")
Oh a duet, a duet! Yes, I get excited over duets mainly because they just really don't make duets like they used to do. And no, Annabelle and Michael aren't married…haha, but the way I typed their names made it look that way.  Ah, Annabelle Lui. She was a pretty good singer but somehow she didn't really get as famous as she ought to have. And I don't see how the theme song was chosen over this insert song because this one is clearly better.


  1. First of all, yay! Thanks for visiting and commenting at my blog. I replied to you.

    Secondly, Anita Mui did ONE take for Heart Debt? Amazing. She sounds so mature.

  2. Hello! I found you! Haha...yay, another 80s/90s HK entertainment fan!

    Btw, saw your comment on retrotvb's blog -- don't worry about not getting comments...I'm sure between the 2 of us (retrotvb and myself), we'll have plenty to say...LOL!

    That's definitely an awesome CD -- in fact, I think I might actually have it as well, except on cassette tape (yes, I still have on my cassette tapes from those

    Yup, when I heard that story about Anita Mui and Heart Debt, I was awed too! Now that's what I call "superstar"!!!

  3. You're most welcome, retrotvb! I've read your comments (on my blog and yours) and I'm glad you replied! :)

    Yup, she sure did :) Though I'm not sure that was the original studio recording that was featured in the playlist, since I did make that playlist quite some time ago. But I did find this music video for the first recording just recently here:

    But yeah, she nailed it on the first try - this video link below is proof (well not the link itself, but the video). Basically James Wong talks about how he gave Anita a full score during the New Talent Singing Awards, while Joseph Koo decided to give her a near perfect score (-1 point) stating that there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to art. And that thing about how Anita came into the studio and got it right the first time. I find James Wong joking with Anita about hitting puberty very funny in that clip. I just can't help but laugh :D

    Many people have said that Anita has sung this song better and better ash she aged with more maturity - one of those important people being the James Wong mentioned above.

    And hello thar llwy12! Glad to see you around :) I'm more than grateful to have comments on my blog :)

    Oh, you still have cassette tapes too? Don't worry, I have plenty. Technology has since gotten better but the music definitely hasn't.

    And yes! Anita Mui really was a true superstar. You see many 'celebrities' today who they call 'stars' but they just don't shine at all. Many singers today probably couldn't even get the whole song right in even 100 takes (mainly because they just can't sing).