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Best Chinese Albums of 2019

Written by YumCha! Editorial Team Tell a Friend

Our editors' picks for the best Chinese albums of 2019!

Angela Hui - My 25
From Produce 101 China to Singer 2019, Angela Hui finally got the chance to shine with her beautiful voice. After gaining the recognition she deserves, Angela releases her first EP in three years to delve into love from a woman's perspective. Her clear, dulcet voice is best suited for romantic ballads and sentimental blues, like "We Are All The Same" about letting go and the cycle of love, her first self-written "Sadness Overflow," "Never-ending" composed by Ronald Ng, rock number "Not As My Wish," and the bluesy English single Improper, which is the theme song of The Improper Lady. Drenched in emotions, Angela's melancholic tunes and soft voice heal our vulnerable hearts and motivate us to be brave in love and face our feelings.

G.E.M. - City Zoo
After parting ways with Hummingbird Music earlier this year, G.E.M. fully shows her unique artistry and musicality in the self-composed album City Zoo. The singer-songwriter delves into topics like humanity, society, love and gender in her stylish self-composed tracks that take on various genres, including trap, electropop, rock, blues and ballad. Serving as the main producer of the album, G.E.M. blends her songwriting talent and creativity in Walk on Water (the Chinese theme song of Terminator), "City Zoo" about power and desire, Fly Away about depression, "Grey Wolf" about the dark triad, "Mama" about gratitude to her mom, and the hip-hop/rockish version of her debut hit "Sleeping Beauty." She pays tribute to MC HotDog's "Mr. Almost" with the hip-hop plug "Miss Similar" that voices out for women, and brings her signature style of love ballads in "Missing You" and her duet "Don't Force It" with Eric Chou. 2019 was a turning point in G.E.M.'s career, and City Zoo certainly marks a great start for her new path.

MC HotDog - Loser
MC HotDog may say "Hip Hop No Party," but the godfather of Taiwanese hip-hop sure still throws a good one in his old-school-repping album Loser. A nod to No Party For Cao Dong's "Simon Says," "Hip Hop No Party" sees HotDog reflecting on himself and the state of hip-hop with scornful lyrics that call out trends and fakers. He pointedly uses autotune (well) in the track, and even offers a trap version of the song. He has more reflective fighting words for himself and hip-hop in "Loser," Do You Remember and "See You Again Hip Hop," which reinterprets A-yue Chang's classic "Goodbye." A-yue also features in the angry yet inspiring "Change" which comments on social ills, as does "Giwawa! The Hater." The most contentious song of the album, though, is likely "Let the Bullet Fly," which tackles the thorny topic of capital punishment. MC HotDog has undoubtedly become more mainstream in the past two years due to his participation on a certain hit Chinese program – and some of the songs on this album were actually first revealed on another music program. However, greater commercial success has not dulled his clear spitfire rap and catchy hooks, and instead given him fodder to reflect on his music.

OSN - #osnrap
Claiming Best New Asian Artist (Mandarin) award at the 2019 MAMA, rising rookie OSN has been recognized for his official solo debut album #osnrap and his great potential. As stated in the album title, OSN raps. He also wrote his own distinctive lyrics and composed his songs with producer Skot Suyama. Departing from the fiery sounds and strong beats usually associated with hip-hop, the rapper is known for laid-back and sentimental numbers, such as the smash hit Without You. Apart from his rap ballads in Why You Gonna Lie, Run Away, "The Last Time" and Be Alright, he also explores funky beats in Everybody Bounce, No Play and Benz Booty. OSN is undoubtedly the Chinese hip-hop discovery of the year.

Rainie Yang - Delete Reset Grow
Rainie Yang's long-awaited 11th studio album boasts a strong composer and producer lineup that includes Sandee Chan, Cheer Chen, George Chen, Waa Wei, LaLa Hsu, Peggy Hsu, ØZI, Alexander Fung and more. With so many well-written compositions, Rainie also steps up her game in the singing department with her sweet and well-honed vocals. Title single "Delete Reset" offers a calm but catchy melody with inspiring lyrics that encourage us to learn from past experiences but not to look back. Pre-release single "Celebration of Oneself" is an ode to embracing solitude, while the popular and groovy Love is Love soulfully expresses giving all to love. Other notable side tracks include the ballad "No Regret," the rocking and rhythmical "Fearless Love," the soothing and acoustic "Faces," "Embrace Your Imperfection" co-written by her husband Li Ronghao, and the Cantonese version ("Stranger") of the song. Entering her mid-30s, Rainie shows a better and more confident self in her ambitious and colorful release.

Ricky Hsiao - Migratory Bird
Ricky Hsiao tells 12 life stories in his unique tone in Migratory Bird, his first Mandarin studio album in three years. The singer-songwriter composed nine songs for the album, including the heartwrenching ballads "Maze" and "Good Morning, Goodbye," the pop rock "Story of a Hero" and Dui Ai Ru Zuo, and the heartwarming "Goodnight." He collaborates with Ge Da Wei in the emotional title track "Migratory Bird" about waiting and always being there for his lover. Ricky and A-Lin sing their hearts out in the chart-topping duet "Lost in the Clouds." Written by award-winning lyricist Daryl Yao, the song is about when all fantasies and anticipation are gone from a romantic relationship.

Sandee Chan - Juvenile A
Always at the vanguard of Mandopop, Sandee Chan takes inspiration from Otomo Katsuhiro's cyberpunk classic Akira for this ambitious and topical album that observes the present from the vantage of a post-apocalyptic future. After the intro dates the future as "2054," Juvenile A jumps right into a myriad of musical styles and social issues. The diva uses retro prog-rock to ask "Where Are You Headed?" in a media-saturated world where people follow en masse like zombies. The deceptively calm "What Will Hannah Say" lays out the hurt and hypocrisy of cyberbullying, jazzy electronic fusion "Uncanny Valley" says just fake it to meet beauty standards, and the ethereal "Fair Lady Works Shuttle" blends Peking opera and pipa instrumentals with the modern lexicon tagged onto women. Inspired by the fight for marriage equality, "Be An Extraordinary Ordinary Person" closes this sublime album with a heartbreaking acoustic ballad conveying the feelings of powerlessness and hope.

Tang Siu Hau - No Coincidence
There are no coincidences in life; every encounter has a meaning... Tang Siu Hau portrays love through different themes and imageries in her third EP No Coincidence. With song titles like "Guava," "The Four Great Inventions," "Chung Yeung" and "Dumplings," who would have thought this album would be packed with feelings about romance and familial love? Famous lyricist Wyman Wong wrote five heartfelt and meaningful pieces for this record, including the original and rock versions of "Guava" (the word for the fruit has a similar pronunciation to "ballad" in Cantonese). The high notes and trendy composition of "The Four Great Inventions," the piano notes of the melancholic "Chung Yeung" about rebirth after breakup, "Dumpling" about how there is no better cuisine than mom's cooking – Tang's pleasant voice just goes well with the beautiful melodies and lyrics that resonate with everyday life. We love, we hurt, we gain, and we lose in relationships, but we should endure and enjoy the journey, because that's what makes us who we are now.

WayV - Take Off
With the rise of groups like Nine Percent, Unine, Rocket Girls and NEX7, China's idol music industry has been growing and developing in recent years – and WayV is an important part of this new wave of idols as one of the most promising rookies of 2019. The China subunit of SM Entertainment’s ambitious NCT project, WayV shot to fame right after releasing their Latin trap debut single "Regular." Topping charts locally and globally, WayV's first mini-album Take Off brings a same-titled urban dance number that delivers trap beats and lyrics in line with the whole NCT concept. Besides "Take Off" and "Regular," there are also addictive side tracks like the synth-driven future bass plug "Say It" co-produced by LDN Noise, the groovy and romantic "Let me love u," the mid-tempo hip-hop-style "Dream Launch" that reveals their aspiration, and the Chinese version of the uptempo urban dance track "Come Back" (previously released by NCT 127).

Wu Qing Feng - Spaceman
Wu Qing Feng's long-awaited first solo album Spaceman has finally arrived! The Sodagreen vocalist blesses us with 12 fresh, distinctive and well-written songs that stimulate the senses and elicit goosebumps. The singer-songwriter's experimental album explores genres like electropop, trance, folk, rock, game music, R&B, hip-hop and more in his soft and soulful tone. Spaceman begins with the immersive seven-minute-long "Dream Translator" which folds layers and layers of voices into its mysterious ambience. Title track "Spaceman" is about a miserable love that is fading away, while ballad "Space" depicts a sorrowful love poem with simple piano notes and two verses of lyrics on repeat. Wu Qing Feng proves again to be the ace of the C-pop scene with creative and avant-garde music pieces that range from the folkish rock plug "The Carnival in Babel" and the ballad "Story~lines," to the dreamy and spacey Shang Feng and the cutesy "Spaceship" based on an 8-bit game-inspired melody.

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Published December 31, 2019

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