tremble clef

Monday, January 30, 2006

Anthony Wong Yiu-Ming (黃耀明), "Glimpse Of Spring (春光乍洩)" (1995)

Since much Chinese New Year music is heinous, full of clanging gongs and shrill vocals, let's instead mark the occasion with a song about spring, the season Chinese New Year ushers in.

Anthony Wong is one of the most interesting male musicians on the Hong Kong Cantopop scene. (As well as celebrity: he's as close to being an out gay man as one can be in the notoriously gossipy Hong Kong scene. He's not stratospherically famous, so the media assholes mostly leaves him alone. He once covered, without changing the pronouns, a song called "Easily Hurt Woman," which is just awesome on so many levels.) Anthony started out in a duo called the Tat Ming Pair, who in the late 80s made new wavish, electronic music, counting Pet Shop Boys as an influence. When the group went its separate ways, Anthony launched a solo career filled with interestingly textured pop songs that were experimental without being uncommercial. His production house, Crowds -- or, more literally, People Mountain People Sea -- has been one of the go-to places for artists, such as Faye Wong who want a bit more edge to their music.

"Glimpse Of Spring" is a song from Anthony's early years as a solo artist, but remains one of his best and biggest hits. The title of the song does literally mean "a glimpse," or a "brief flash" of spring; colloquially, however, the expression also refers, more risquely, to a flash of flesh. I guess an English equivalent would be "mooning," although "glimpse of spring" isn't as, um, specific, about the kind of flesh on display. Interestingly, Wong Kar-Wai's movie of two gay tourists in Argentina, Happy Together, uses the phrase as its Chinese title: no doubt to evoke the idea that its two protagonists can only seem to experience quick and transient bursts of happiness, but perhaps also to allude slyly to the gay sex scene that kicks the movie off with a bang. I'm not sure if the director took the title from Anthony's song, since the expression is common enough, but given that the English title of the film is from the Turtles song, it would be a neat parallel if he did.

The song itself is arresting from the get-go. It begins with a pizzicato string passage over some plucked bass, which runs throughout; but on top of that is another string arrangement that is absolutely breathtaking. There's even a harp, as if the song is going into a flashback or something. A harp! As you can already begin to guess, the track as a whole is very lush; even if you don't understand how one of the final lines in the lyric is a poignantly poetic lament -- "Do we have to wait a thousand lifetimes, before we can offer solace to each other?" -- about the transience of that spring, that glimpse, you should hopefully still feel its beauty.

Of course, if you hate lush beauty, you may prefer this Eurodance mix of the song, which removes all the strings and hi NRGs up the beat, turning it into a bit of a Motiv 8-remixed Pet Shop Boys stomper. Which would be fine, if the original weren't so perfect in my mind. But download it as a bonus; I won't judge you during this celebratory season.

2 Comments:

  • That remix succeeds about as much as Pete Burns starring in _Big Momma's House 3_.

    The original is truly fab.

    By Anonymous esque, at 8:16 PM  

  • Martin Lawrence would be improved by foreskin lips, though.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 1:26 AM  

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