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Best Chinese Albums of 2018

Written by YumCha! Editorial Team Tell a Friend

Our editors' picks for the best Chinese albums of 2018!


CHEER CHEN - SOFA SEA
Cheer Chen shares her insight on solitude through ten self-composed indie pop plugs in her first album in five years. The sentimental "Imperfect Rainbow" conveys the emotions of being unable to let go of a relationship. The song captures the mixed feelings of hoping the other person is well yet realizing that something is missing since parting ways: "Without you, I am an imperfect rainbow that lost its most important color." Besides her signature soulful ballads, the Taiwan singer-songwriter also heals souls with the swingy "Loser," rockish "Chameleon" and "Hurt." "Impressionism" owns a slightly uplifting melody that leads into an animated world of imagination. The indie-pop queen's silvery voice stands out the most in "Observer," which is wholly accompanied by acoustic guitar sounds. Good things take time, and as expected, Cheer reassures that her album is worth the wait!






EASON CHAN - L.O.V.E.
11 songs, 13 members, 1 band. Six years after Eason Chan's world tour, Eason and the Duo band come together again for their first and last album. Besides Eason, the talented band consists of famous musicians such as the late Ellen Loo, Jun Kung, Carl Wong, lyricist Chan Wing Him and rising singer Yoyo Sham. L.O.V.E brings 11 tracks of different sentiments and genres – starting from the funky "We Zzzid It" to the soulful "To Be Together" to the rock ballad "Sharing" – all penned by the Duo band members. They commemorate their friendship in the upbeat and catchy "All About Love," "Crazy Friends" and "Long Live To Us." The band members also contribute their voices to tracks, including the Eason-composed The Album, the three interludes and RUN, the only English duet on the album. If L.O.V.E. can be calculated, Eason and the Duo band guide you to the answer through their tunes.






HINS CHEUNG - SENSES INHERITED
This year, Hins Cheung officially returned from hiatus by kicking off the year with his first single "Nothing Without You." His year-end release Senses Inherited consists of ten songs and three instrumentals that bring back the 90s retro sound. This nostalgic album takes Hins to a new career high; he became the first singer in 23 years to own three Hong Kong radio-chart-topping singles in one album, including "Nothing Without You," the encouraging "Priodigy 1985" and the relaxing, rhythmic "Diving." As the sequel to the 2008 hit "Under the Cherry Blossom Tree," "The Story" expresses the bittersweet feelings of seeing an unrequited love years later: "Now the story has ended for ten years. Perhaps there is no need to recall." Hins also brings his signature ballad style in "Pretending To Be Asleep," a heartbreaking song about a man knowing he's immersed in a love triangle, but having to pretend that nothing is wrong.






JUNO MAK & KAY TSE - THE ALBUM PART ONE
What makes an album remarkable is not merely the singer or the songs, but also its whole concept. Continuing the success of "Rashomon," Juno Mak collaborates with Kay Tse again for a new music project planned by him. From love to marriage to divorce, the seven tracks unfold a 17-year love tale that perhaps many married couples would find resonance with. It all starts with Juno's heart-fluttering solo track "Brave 17," and then follows with "Trapped 28" and "Fierce 34" to tell his perspective. Kay expresses her character's marital hardships through "A Pseudo Wife," while "A Woman and Bathroom" and its duet version "(A Man) A Woman and Bathroom" featuring Louis Koo mark the heroine embarking on a new journey and marriage after divorce. Acclaimed producers like Christopher Chak, Albert Leung and Wyman Wong tailor-made the tunes for the storyline and the two characters. More than just melodic and aching love songs, this album is like a movie that touches many hearts. We're looking forward to the album part two in 2019!






LI RONGHAO - EAR
Li Ronghao is definitely one of the trending singers of the year. Though he was already quite famous before, his appearance as a vocal mentor on Idol Producer has brought him to a higher level of popularity, especially among teenagers. The talented singer-songwriter uses his unique voice and melodies to melt our Ear in his 2018 release. As always, Li Ronghao took charge of every little bit of his record – from production to song composition to instrumental recordings. Inspired by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the retro electronic single "Quarrelsome Lovers" is about the willy-nilly love-hate relationship between couples. Written by author Han Han, "Dwell on the Past" depicts the outpouring of memories brought about by just a bowl of soup. Jazzy title track "Ear" expresses the loneliness of covering our ears and refusing to communicate with the world. If we can't see, the ear becomes the window to our soul. Through Ear, Li Ronghao explores vintage music with a dreamy fantasy ambience. Every song tells a resonant story.






LIL' ASHES - RECALL A LITTLE BIT
It's not easy to make a cover album of children's songs musically relevant, and yet Lil' Ashes managed to do just that. The indie duo's concept EP brings out the melancholic quality of six nostalgic 70s-90s Cantonese songs of childhood. These deceptively catchy tunes take on different and deeper meaning when revisited as adult songs. Shirley Yuen's "Ah Fa's Story," with Lin Xi's lyrics remembering a pet cat, growing up and loss, sounds both sweet and sorrowful in Pollie's pronounced voice against dreamy synth and backing vocals. Another Lin Xi-penned Shirley Yuen classic, "Heavenly Music Floating Everywhere" composed by Lo Ta Yu, is updated with rolling rock beats and the duo's harmonizing voices. The song's lyrics – "What is eternal youth? Singing the earth's songs every day and night" – feel especially fitting for this album. Even "Little Sun," the most ubiquitous of Hong Kong children's songs, gets new life in mellow vocals and bossa nova rhythm.






MAO BUYI - PERFECT DAY
Besides singing seemingly just about every notable Chinese drama theme song this year, singer-songwriter Mao Buyi also released his first album Perfect Day. The Coming One champion brings a perfectly soothing musical repertoire that includes a few competition songs from the program, like the megahit "Eliminate Sorrow." The talented young singer melts ears and calms hearts through beautiful folk and ballad numbers with meaningful lyrics and simple arrangements. His wonderfully gentle and lyrical numbers, like "Perfect Day" and "Give You Give Me," are evocative of the campus folk pop style of Li Jian, who is fittingly a co-producer on the album. Mao Buyi's vocals especially suit songs with traditional xiao diao melody, like "Nanyi Street" and Yi Hun Yi Su, but he also has some playful songs in there, such as the jaunty "Aiya" and the rockish "If I Become Rich One Day."






SHI SHI - SHI'S JOURNEY
Shi Shi released two exceptional albums this year. Woman brought her piercing rock pop sound to new polished heights, and then Shi’s Journey hit reset by going in new exciting directions. Collaborating with different musicians and artists, the singer-songwriter plays with jazz, funk, soul and R&B in a surprising fusion experimental album. From the push-and-pull R&B duet "Tensions" with ØZI and the tipsy brass-laced disco number "Red Apple" written by Hush, to the bluesy slow rock "What Time is it There?" and the jazz-rock Sheena Ringo homage "Love Me Like a Liar," this album sees Shi Shi completely changing up her groove and flow for a dreamy and seductive musical journey that's well worth taking.






VALEN HSU - FREYJA
From the very first song, Freyja announces a new breakthrough for Valen Hsu. Continuing to work with producer Chen Chien Chi after 2014’s Miracles, the singer further intensifies and diversifies her music with electronic and synth. Airy, layered and psychedelic, "Freyja" is a positively epic musical exercise whose Ge Da Wei-penned lyrics tell a resolute story of love and will inspired by the titular Norse goddess. Valen’s beautifully clear and lilting vocals take listeners through songs as differently appealing as the jazzy Peggy Hsu-penned "Honeymoon," the dramatic alt-rock "One Soul," the gentle and breathy "A Walk to the End of Summer" and the fizzy-sweet RadioMars creation "Just Love."






YOYO SHAM - NOTHING IS UNDER CONTROL
Last year, singer-songwriter Yoyo Sham made a name for herself singing "Light Chaser" for the Rush To The Dead Summer soundtrack. This year, the gifted musician shares ten of her life stories in a mix of jazz, blues, folk, pop ballad and indie pop tunes. As a Hong Kong singer, she doesn't limit herself to merely one language and performs her music pieces in Cantonese, Mandarin and English. Nothing is Under Control contains a series of calming tracks in her soothing voice that are definitely worth a listen. Four years ago, Yoyo witnessed a car accident that took the life of a teenage girl. Shocked by how fragile life is and hoping to comfort departed souls, she channels her feelings into the heart-tugging lead track "Just Another Day" featuring Eason Chan. Yoyo also composed the jazzy "Bon Voyage," bluesy Scrambled Eggs Blues, the refreshing Ride and the serenade Maybe It’s for the Best.








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Published December 24, 2018


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  • Region & Language: Hong Kong United States - English
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