The deep dive into my archives continues with a classic album review that has never actually seen the light of day. It was to be part of a project that never got off the ground, but I love Faye Wong, and present it to you here in the hopes that you will listen to this album because it is truly great.
A classic album is one that stays with you, haunts you, makes you happy, incites thoughts and ideas, or involves virtuosic instrumentation. It’s an album that you want to put on under any circumstances.
For me, Faye Wong’s Fable (2000) is all of those things, an unexpected delight. I never expected to fall in love with a Canto-/Mandopop album as much as I did this album. It has stayed with me over many listens and I am always ready to spin it one more time.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising, though. Faye Wong is one of the most enduring Asian pop artists of all time. Her popularity is such that she has been retired for years and still inspires a devoted following. She could hold concerts for days in a row in the same giant arena and would sell it out each and every time. She’s legendary in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, and beyond. She has made seemingly countless great albums but, for me, Fable tops them all.
The most amazing thing about the album is the multitude of directions it takes. The first five songs are a song cycle of sorts, written by Wong herself. The ostensible subject is Buddhism. The songs contain traces of trip hop, classical, jazz, and old-time vocal veracity. The madness begins with the dirge-like «寒武紀» (“The Cambrian Age”), which is arresting from the start. To my mind, it’s one of the highlights of the album. The cycle’s final song, «彼岸花» (“Flower on the Other Shore”) is a desperate plea for unattainable perfection.
Tracks six through eight are pop songs, but perfectly crafted, with perfect pitch and sassy intent throughout. The titles, «如果你是假的» (“If You Were False”), «不愛我的我不愛» (“I Won’t Love Anyone Who Doesn’t Love Me”), and «你喜歡不如我喜歡» (“Your Likes Are Not as Important as Mine”), suggest empowerment as sharp as a knife, but they are so delivered so gently that one never feels the incision.
The ninth through twelfth tracks are Mandarin and Cantonese versions of two amazing songs, «再見螢火蟲» (“Farewell, Firefly”), «笑忘書» (“Book of Laughter and Forgetting/ Book of Exhilaration”). “Farewell, Firefly” is a rather stirring track, mixing rock ‘n roll into Wong’s sonic mélange, with electric results. “Book of Laughter and Forgetting/ Book of Exhilaration” couldn’t be more different. It is an endearing ballad with piano, strings, and voice melding perfectly to create an enchanting melody.
There are import editions of Fable with an abundance of bonus tracks. One I saw contained a song Wong did for one of the endless iterations of the Final Fantasy video game franchise. I even saw a special bonus edition that contained footage from a commercial she did for Head and Shoulders shampoo. For me though, this is the crux of the album. These ten songs are enough.
They provide an astounding blend of styles and emotions. They leave you wanting more. Fortunately, Wong’s discography is incredibly deep and allows for many hours of mining for treasure.
I haven’t finished spelunking through Faye Wong’s entire archive, but I find it hard to believe I will find anything as complete as what is on offer on Fable.
It’s the whole package. It’s everything pop should be.
4. Asian celebrities are a major part of the front row
Model Bonnie Chen (left) sits next to Chloe CEO Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye on the frow. Photograph: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images
The usual flashbulbs that denote a celebrity were often met with blank faces in the UK press section this season. These days, brands are courting the Asian market, and it shows. Models Bonnie Chen and Tao – Chinese and Japanese respectively – were front row at Chloé, with Chen strategically photographed next to the chief executive, Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye. Even Phoebe Philo – who doesn’t play the front-row game – is making these connections. She was seen greeting the Chinese actor Faye Wong after the Céline show.
[Weibo] 2.20.2014 Faye's Statement Against Allegations of Embezzlement
We have never even thought about it, let alone actually did it. I have faith in every team member of the Smile Angel Foundation. No matter how dark the world is, we still decide to be a light. No matter how sinister people are, we are still brave enough to be good people.