Thursday, November 29, 2012

Playlist: Songs From The Flicks

Another playlist! This playlist was actually inspired by a snippet from RTHK's 25th Anniversary Retrospective, that retrotvb was kind enough to share around here after I took way too long to translate the show (heheh, sorry about that retrotvb!). Anywho, the film songs part of the retrospective was one of my favorite bits of the show, and I decided to dedicate a small tracklist to it. The songs aren't really in any particular order, but each one I think has something special - either adding ambience to the film itself, wonderfully penned lyrics, a beautiful melody or even all three. Please enjoy!

1. "The Days Back Then"- Leslie Cheung <"A Better Tomorrow">
Now this song was composed by the great Joseph Koo and the lyrics were penned  by the late (and also equally great) James Wong. The song goes back to telling of how things were and still are the same, even though everyone has gone and joined triads and quit triads, like Leslie's character, in the film. And yes, this song also serves as a bittersweet memoir for not only a one in a million talent like James Wong, but a superstar like Leslie. This is one of my favorite Leslie classics, I could listen to this track on repeat, all day.  

2. "Like An Old Friend Coming To Visit" - Anita Mui <"The Twin Bracelets">
This poetic song with it's lyrics written by Albert Leung (who just happens to write about 99% of all lyrics for Cantopop and Mandarin songs) is actually just a very charming piece. And the Queen of Cantopop, Anita Mui gets to label this as one of her signature tracks, with her warm voice, painting color over the lyrics and bringing the song to life, yet with a yearning for unrequited love and a reunion. Definitely very pleasant to the ears. 

3. "Rouge" - Anita Mui <"Rouge">
I would say this piece and movie, which share the same title, really cemented Anita's talent as an actress, as well as a singer. There are a few lines  from the last verse that stand out and linger with me (just like how Fleur's restless soul roams the Earth looking for the man that once said he loved her).
Now that's emotional. Anita is one of those few artists that can really pull at your heartstrings, with great (albeit sad and extremely depressing) lyrics by Edward Tang, as well as a haunting melody composed by Michael Lai.   

4. "Dream Chaser" - Shirley Yuen <"A Moment Of Romance">
Now this song just happens to come up at one of the most bloody and violent scenes in the whole movie. And rightly so! Jacqueline Ng is running in her white wedding dress while Andy Lau is getting stabbed in a bloody battle. Anyway, beautiful tune composed by the very Law Tai-Yau (there is a Mandarin version of this song they used for a drama starring Kathy Chow) and Yuen Fung-Ying's voice is a perfect match for this track, although diva Sandy Lam could easily own this track, just like she did at her performance with Jacky Cheung at the HK film awards some years back.  

5. "A Chinese Ghost Story" - Leslie Cheung <"A Chinese Ghost Story">
Another Leslie track. This time it was all James Wong's fault - music and lyrics. This movie was great, man. The song was great too - with it's classical kind of phrasing and flutes going in the background. Just like a ballad, telling a story, it brings to mind a ancient Chinese parchment with beautiful watercolor artwork as accompaniment. 

6. "Dawn, Please Don't Come" - Sally Yeh <"A Chinese Ghost Story">
Another fantastic theme song from A Chinese Ghost Story. But this one's sung by Sally Yeh and the composition and lyrics are both by James Wong. This is a pretty haunting melody, in terms of a ghostly kind of story-telling. All very well suited to the movie. And this song is powerful in creating a link between what was happening on screen. Even now it still conjures images of Leslie's character trying to block out the sunlight coming though the cracks, in a desperate attempt to save Joey's ghostly character.

7. "Chase" - Leslie Cheung <"He's A Woman, She's A Man">
Now I've included another Leslie classic, but I've put in the clip from the movie with with Anita Yuen in it. Haha. You don't need me to explain the humorous dialogue at the beginning (subtitles are your friend!). But on a more serious note, this song is really touching. If someone like Leslie sung this to you, I think it would probably make you want to marry him. His voice, again, is full of emotion and every word and phrase is sung with a heartfelt control. 

8. "Come Back To My Side" - Sammi Cheng <"My Left Eye Sees Ghosts">
Any Sammi fans out there? So I decided to slip in a song from the post 80's-90's era   to balance things out. But no no, this song I do actually like, personally. And it's another ghost film! Not that I have a thing for ghostly films…but then again, maybe I do. This one's another wistful longing kind of song where Sammi sings out the feelings of her character in the film about her dead husband. In my opinion, she does a pretty good job on this track and packs in the emotional punch too, so don't be surprised if you begin to get teary-eyed.   

9. "Years of Friendship" - Ekin Cheng <"Young And Dangerous">
Okay, so we all know Ekin's vocal ability isn't the greatest…but you gotta admit, this is a pretty catchy song (especially the chorus). It also goes well with the whole rough-bad-boy theme in the movie. This was one of the films that helped Ekin to breakaway from his TVB image (and from the company). If you're into triads and stuff, give this film a try. It's based on a graphic novel, anywho. 

10. "Beautiful For Life" - Sammi Cheng <"Love On A Diet">
This is a pretty uplifting song, actually. So, it was used for Love On A Diet, when both Andy Lau and Sammi are both trying to run around in fatsuits lose weight. It's really about the realization of about how grateful you are, having someone like Andy around. I guess the take-home message is really about feeling that you are lovable. Or something like that. Nice melody and very suitable lyrics by Albert Leung.

11. "The Most Important Thing Is Fun" - Sam Hui <"Working Class/King Worker">
Alright, I'll admit it. This is a very fun song. Pretty funny lyrics too. Well, what can I say, Sam Hui is a pretty talented guy, coming up with a song like this. And wow. Joey Wong does sure look mighty fine in the video! She was a pretty good actress, actually. Not usually doing the over-the-top thing or underacting. But anyway, bak to the song. It just makes you want to get up and dance, no? 

12. "Laughter Over The Deep Blue Sea" - Sam Hui, James Wong & Law Tai-Yau <"The Swordsman">
This is a very kind of poetic and there is a very good translation here from Hun. It is written with a very, very oriental feel to it and even though James Wong wrote the lyrics to this song, he had to actually bring out a lyric sheet in concert one time. Haha.

13. "A Woman's Heart" - Anita Mui <"The Heroic Trio">
I consider this one of Anita's signature tracks, because it showcases her versatile ability. Compared to the other fast and upbeat theme song from The Heroic Trio, she's able to weave this composition by Law Tai-Yauwith the lyrics by Albert Leung into this very sad and wistful ballad. It's like you can hear her heart breaking with every word she sings. In a way, like hoping for something even though you know that it will never happen.   

14. "Karma" <"The Tai-Chi Master">
Jet Li, man! Jet Li playing with a ball on water. You'll have to skip forward in the video to about 4 minutes until you start hearing any hint of a song coming through. Though the preamble is quite funny to watch (even without subtitles!). I tend to seriously feel like I'm repeating myself with another Law Tai-Yau composition. Well, let's just think of it as just a treat for the fans of his compositions. Because honestly, he is a really a talented composer and musician.

15. "Man Of Determination" - George Lam <"Once Upon A Time In China II">
Only George Lam can sing these kinds of songs. Anything to do with martial arts and you know, being a man and all that jazz. It's actually because of his moustache. PSYCHE! I'm just kidding. But the man does sure have a gruff voice which is very, very good for these kinds of songs because it boasts of blood, sweat and tears. 

16. "Forgetting You Is Like Forgetting Me" - Faye Wong <"Bride With The White Hair">
Couldn't make a list without the beautiful Faye Wong now, could we? That just wouldn't do! One of Brigette Lin's signature roles as the white-haired maiden, with the ever-so-handsome Leslie Cheung, as the leading man. Now, if you haven't seen the film, don't get the wrong idea! This is not one of THOSE kinds of flicks! The camera may be focusing on the fact that the two lovers are expressing their love in a physical sense, but that is all. Faye's crystal-clear voice really nails this one.    

17.  "Don't Ask About Life" - Anita Mui <"The Heroic Trio">
This is very contrasting to "A Woman's Heart", right? Though I do think that it's worth a second listen, you're welcome to skip to 4:30 if you want to hear the second track. Though the backstage cast photo is very nice,
just looking at Maggie's ditzy moment in this video is very nostalgic...and funny. The song - it's fast, catchy, upbeat and with strong vocals. Sister Anita is a very versatile singer indeed. But yes, less questions, on with the song!  

18. "A Youthful Heart" - Jacky Cheung <"Fong Sai Yuk">
Though I would have liked to include a more interesting video instead of a script with just the credits rolling on it, I hope this track will suffice. It's heroic sounding, but yet not overly powerful in terms of bursting a vocal pipe and is really quite catchy. James Wong wrote the lyrics. But I do recommend the movie, which also stars Josephine Siao, as his mother which makes a funny thing to watch.    

19.  "Heart Afire" - Sally Yeh <"Fight And Love With A Terracotta Warrior">
Another Sally track, but hey, she was one of the undisputed Queens of the 90's. I'm actually not into any kind of patriotic song (especially in the name of Communist China), but this one sits well with me. Why, you ask? Well, let's just say I've always had a thing for Sally and her vocals really do bring out the aching sadness of this song - like her heart really is amidst the flames. Zhang Yi-mou directed and starred in this film along with Gong Li, which feels like a very long ago. 

20. "Very Nice!" - Chow Yun-Fat, Joey Wong & Sally Yeh <"Diary Of A Big Man">
Okay. Just to end things off nicely, here's a wild card in the mix. It'll make you laugh, that's for sure - Chow Yun-Fat and his darned charisma and funny ways. Curse you. I cannot resist! LOL. And did I mention, the two leading ladies - Sally Yeh and Joey Wong? That two-timing jerk. I'm kidding. Very nice!  Very nice, indeed :D


  1. Wonderful songs! Thank you very much :-)

    1. You're very welcome Yara! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  2. These are truly classics, and it's wonderful to revise them once in a while, never get tired of hearing them. A number of them were written by James Wong and Joseph Koo, a brilliantly gifted duo. has smart lyrics by Richard Lam, won the best arrangement in 1990, and has this very poetic and beautiful melody by Dick Lee that never fails to enchant.

    1. Yes they are, indeed! I never struggle when I have to listen to any of these songs. And yes, Joseph and James did make a great partnership when it came to producing great songs. But Max, I don't know what happened to the Chinese characters so I'm not entirely sure which song you're referring to. But I do know that Dick worked a lot with Sandy Lam on her albums.

    2. Yeah sorry I really don't know where the Chinese characters went.
      "The Most Important Thing Is Fun" has smart lyrics by Richard Lam, "Heart Afire" won the best arrangement in 1990, and "Chase" has this very poetic and beautiful melody by Dick Lee that never fails to enchant.
      In my opinion Dick Lee dedicated his best songs to Sandy. It's not that other songs he wrote are not good, but they lack that magic quality when he collaborated with Sandy.

    3. Oh that's alright, I don't think it was any fault on your part, so no worries. Sam's songs are usually quite different because of their colloquial nature and this one is really quite fun. Sally's track has some great oriental elements in it, so I find the award quite deserving. And I do agree that the melody by Dick Lee works very beautifully for "Chase".
      And I concede with you on the collaborations with Sandy. Of course, Sandy's voice is really something special, in itself.