To mark the first anniversary of Faye Wong Today, I invited all of you to share your favorite Faye song, album, etc., and some of you have done just that: Raint, Dan, TianKongWuChang, Raymond Chua, y.A.S.d., Delirium_Zer0, and Peppar. (Also see the listing in the sidebar on the right under “First Anniversary April 27.”) Some of you have also posted your congratulations. To all of you, xiexie, 谢谢!
I also planned to post my favorites on the 27th, today, and the list below is the result. I had a really hard time deciding because every time someone posted his/her list, I found my list changing, being influenced by his choices. I know that if I had to do this list over again a week or month down the road, my choices would probably be different. Thus, this list is like a time capsule that captures my selections on this particular day, which happens to be the day, one year ago, when I started this blog, Faye Wong Today.
The first post on this day in 2008 was a question: “Will Faye Wong Return?” And today, exactly a year later, the same question is still on the minds of all Faye fans: Will she return? We don’t know for sure, but soon, in the next few days, hopefully, we’ll have our answer. We’re all expecting her to appear in a TV shampoo commercial, and our fingers are crossed that it will be followed by an album, concerts, personal appearances, and a film.
The past twelve months have been exciting, with Faye’s return to the stage to help earthquake victims, with numerous appearances in public, trips, etc. Through all of these, we’ve had glimpses of Faye and marvel at her beauty and grace. And the one thing we’re all certain about is that her long absence has strengthened instead of weakened her appeal, and her fan base has remained loyal and patient throughout, showing no signs of a let down.
“Do Dak Ta” from Faye Wong Live in Concert album released in Jan. 1995.
This was the hardest choice for me. There are so many that qualify for the best Faye Wong (王菲) song. I finally decided on “Do Dak Ta” (aka “Superwoman” and “Because of Him”) from her 1994 HK concert album. The reason I like it so much is that it demonstrates Faye’s amazing ability to create a tremendous amount of tension and emotion by holding in her emotions and using a restrained, “soft” voice that that grabs and holds the listener’s attention. The vast majority of singers would bring unrestrained emotions to this song and try to tear the feelings out of their hearts for all the world to see, but not Faye. She takes a “quiet” almost whispery approach that is far more moving. Some critics don’t understand the idea of wailing and pass it off as yodeling, totally unaware of the raw emotional power that it adds to a song. Faye’s wailing is powerful, full of soul and blues, and when it kicks in, the listener soars with her. When Faye sings, you know she’s coming directly from her heart and that she’s feeling and not just singing.
I have to agree with y.A.S.d. — Fable. Fu Zao and Chang You are right up there, but Faye’s October 2000 album is my all-time favorite because of the reasons that y.A.S.d. mentions. Faye composed the first five tracks — “The Cambrian Era,” “New Tenant,” “Chanel,” “Asura,” and “Flower of Paradise” — and together, they form a set that’s thematically cohesive yet each is distinct and a work of art in its own right. This album is a creative masterpiece and will remain a classic forwever. This MV of “Chanel” was added to YouTube by Madforever on 15 Nov 2006.
The Christmas Eve 2003 HK concert. This was another difficult choice because I love all of Faye’s concerts. I was leaning toward the New Year’s Eve 1998 HK concert but decided, at the last minute, to go with the 2003. The major reason is that it includes a lot of her latest songs, which hadn’t been released five years earlier. I also like the quality of the video, especially the DVD-9 version, as well as the costumes. The “new” English covers were great. Faye’s performance of “Jiang Ai,” “The Last Blossom,” “The Look of Love,” “Wings of Light,” “Bored,” and especially “Spectacular” was awesome! NO FAYE, NO LIVE! (The video was added to YouTube by Lionriver on 22 July 2007.)
4. Film (Movie)
I’ve selected 2046 because it demonstrates the power that Faye has in a film. She doesn’t consider herself a serious actress, but this is exactly what makes her great. She is so natural and unique that she stands out from all the other performers. Wong Kar-wai understands how her beauty and style can transform a great movie into a classic and turn a movie into a work of art. The most moving and unforgettable scenes are the ones with Faye. She grabs and holds your attention, and long after the end of the film, the images remain with you, vivid and real, pulsing with life. [Thanks to Kim for the reminder that the singer is not Faye. I’m not sure who it is.]
“Emotional Life.” Another extremely tough choice. There are so many good ones. I finally based my choice on two criteria: song and video quality. I’ve seen many versions of this MV, but this, which I discovered only a few days ago, has the best video quality. The images are much better than the others. “Emotional Life” is the opening track in Chang You, and it was composed by Faye. I love this song, and I really like Faye’s look in this video.
I like this photo because of the eyes, the direct openness. Faye doesn’t smile unless she genuinely feels like it. And in this photo, she doesn’t feel like it. So, instead, she gives us a real look at exactly how she feels. You never get the feeling that Faye is faking an emotion, and this picture captures this. And the soul that shines through those eyes is remarkable for its honesty. Faye can be completely open because she has nothing to hide. As Nic Tse said in an interview, she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Not in those exact words, but you get the picture.
7. Dress (or outfit)
I really like this dress, which she wore in her 2003 HK concert, because it shows us what Faye can do with clothing that seems very simple. On Faye, it comes alive and becomes beauty in motion. In a 1998 interview, she said, “I’ve never liked being bossed around; when someone tells me what to do, I feel very uncomfortable.” Faye is at her best when she’s doing her own thing, following her own instincts. In this video, added to YouTube by Appleper in 12 Nov 2007, we see Faye moving with the music in her own way, doing what comes naturally, in steps that haven’t been choreographed.
8. TV Performance
I liked Faye in the Japanese TV series, Usokoi, which was telecast from July to September 2001. We see Faye in a wide range of acting situations and we can clearly see that she’s a terrific actress. In these brief scenes, the camera captures Faye playing the role as only she can interpret it — full of life, energy, and natural beauty!
9. TV Interview
I agree with Dan and Peppar — in the TV interviews with the zany Tao Zi, Faye seems comfortable and natural.
10. Faye Quote
This quote is from a commercial radio interview with Vani in October 1998, which focused on her latest album, Chang You. Faye composed four of the songs on the album, and she also wrote the lyrics for “Tong” (click on the audio below). When Vani asked about the words in Tong, Faye replied, “Actually, the number of words isn’t important . . . . Do you see what I’m trying to say? It is as if language itself limits what you can say.”
I like this quote because it reveals Faye’s deep understanding of the purpose of music as a means to express more than words alone can say. The arts, including music, are simply means to explore and extend our understanding of what it means to be human, to share the emotions that we equate with beauty, joy, sadness, longing, etc. Thus, through her songs, through her music, Faye is not only expressing her innermost feelings but she’s also helping us to experience those feelings as well — for ourselves. Through her music, we get in touch with our own emotions and begin to understand who we are.
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