Pop Cult: Giang Ngoc, Yukiko Okada, Faye Wong
Knee-jerk reactions (the best kind) to pop culture happenings all over the world.Posted by Allen Huang
The City Hunter Never Sleeps
In celebration of the premiere of my monthly in Seattle, I’ve chosen to focus on some tracks that encapsulate the nostalgic and cool vibe of City Hunter.
Giang Ngoc – Hay Dey Voi Em : B
I’d be lying if I said I knew much of anything about the Southern California Vietnamese New Wave scene. There isn’t much information out there, and the songs are hard to come by, besides some very expansive Italo Disco comps and the occasional YouTube video. Oh, there’s also this tape, which I would probably eat my shirt to obtain.
Nonetheless, Giang Ngoc’s cover of Lisa E’s “Call My Name” remains hauntingly beautiful in its public access splendor. My obsessions with Asian music are partly due to the tonal nature of the languages; the sharp staccato of Japanese matches the shimmering club beats, while the emotional rolls of Korean thrive in dirty R&B beats. By the same token, the Vietnamese tongue is perfectly paired with the tape-hiss affected synth stabs, channeling through the song emotions that the Lisa E version completely fails to uncover.
Also, the dancing. THE DANCING.
Faye Wong – Dream Person : B+
Chungking Express is City Hunter canon, a stylish film of dreamy vignettes set against a city that feels so alive yet so alone. It’s from this movie that Chinese superstar Faye Wong’s cover of The Cranberries “Dreams” comes from. So while the Cranberries evoke imagery of rolling irish hills and strangely shaped tree trunks, the Cantonese version channels Wong’s manic dream girl tossing around her tiny Hong Kong apartment. Perfect for City Hunter.
Yukiko Okada – Futari Dake No Ceremony : A
I first came across this track as a sample on Lil B’s “The Wilderness,” and it’s floated around in my mind ever since. Yukiko Okada’s story is a tragic one; after shooting to stardom via Japan’s version of American Idol, she had a short but successful career before leaping to her death. Fans of hers were so distraught that some performed copycat suicides, and the phenomenon was dubbed “Yukiko Syndrome.”
To imagine an innocent girl with an angel’s voice suffering such sadness is an intensely conflicting idea. The disparity between her shining smile and her overcast heart are the vibe that City Hunter strives for. And so her song joins the canon.