Winter Endless_Sodagreen_Best Mandarin Album

The 27th Golden Melody Awards was for me certainly a night to remember-and not just because it was the first time I had the pleasure of attending it in person! Starting off with a number of hot-to-trot artists and celebrities who made a sparkling entrance on the red carpet including the sharp-tongued Xiao S and her dynamic counterpart Kelvin Tsai, actress-cum-singer Ariel Lin and many of the nominees, the ceremony’s beginning was heralded in by a beautiful medley of some of Sodagreen‘s famous hits such as “Little Love Song” and “Jolly Plaintiveness” backed by the 60-person Berlin Orchestra conducted by Bernd Ruf. While the former was a very classical-influenced, soulful and heavenly performance, the latter more deeply embedded classical elements into the song, allowing Sodagreen’s rocking independent roots to come to light. Although lead vocalist Qing Feng felt he could have performed better, he nevertheless was able to keep his cool, rendering it a moving and pleasurable performance worthy of one of the biggest music awards shows in Taiwan.

In between performance and award announcing segments, veteran host Mickey Huang was as versatile and professional as could be. Clad in over 20 wacky outfits which included fashion pieces designed by famous singers such as Elva Hsiao, he nevertheless pulled each and every one of them off with aplomb, commanding the attention of thousands with his charisma and professionalism. Other guest hosts deserve special commendation for the way they presented the awards and created an even more exciting and fun atmosphere for all audience members involved, with top honours going to none other than dynamic duo Xiao S and Kevin Tsai who have not hosted on television since the end of their stint on much-loved reality talk show “KangXi is Coming”. Xiao S with her bitchy undercuts stole the show at the Red Carpet and Awards Ceremony, fake-mocking the likes of A-Mei for wearing too little, before being exposed during the ceremony itself by Tsai for her contradictions. With a star-studded crew including the likes of Ariel Lin, Bii Chen, Tanya Chua, and Eason Chan delivering their lines with meaning and positive energy, they kept the night going swimmingly from start to end.

Another highlight of the night was the cross-cultural collaboration between Japanese megastar Ken Hirai and Taiwanese guitarist Baobu Badulu on Hirai’s famous hit ‘Friends’ and his new single ‘Can I Say It’s Magic’. Hirai’s warm and soothing vocals against the simple yet optimistic pluckings of Baobu on the track “Friends” really brought back nostalgic memories for myself, and I’m sure for all in the audience as well.

Aboriginal powerhouse Samingad‘s performance was yet another memorable one that was meaningful and visually stunning; employing the use of four 3-D projectors to create a magical picture of the earth, illustrating the environmental and social problems that now face Taiwan. Sung in three languages, reflective piano tinklings in a minor key were joined after the second verse by whispers of ambient sound in the first part before moving towards a more aggressive, dramatic sound to reflect the urgency of problems that the Earth now faces. In the final part, the performance was stripped back to ambient sounds accompanying Samingad’s amazing voice as she sang a raw, emotive prayer in her native language, giving all audiences a glimpse into the Aboriginal Taiwanese perspective and their intimate connection with nature.

Despite all performances being pretty fantastic in my opinion, another one that stood out to me was A-Mei‘s much-anticipated collaboration with rap talents MJ116. Going through a medley of top hits including “Fly Out”, “Bad Boy”, “Booty Call” and “Straight Out”, A-Mei was on fire as she rapped in her husky, sensual vocals like she had been doing it all along. I especially loved how MJ116 incorporated the ‘duet’ concept into their rap arrangement, really using their words to tell a story; to-and-froing between both parties. I especially loved how they produced a slowed down, more sensual version of A-Mei’s dance song “Booty Call” for her at the start, before bringing the beat back with rapid-fire rapping before ripping back in with the hook. Everyone was in the zone, their flow was completely on point, and both audience and performers looked like they were enjoying themselves. Now if that’s not what you’d call a good performance, I don’t know what is.

But what’s any live awards show or concert without a little bit of love? Against a backdrop of beautiful floating lanterns, Karen Mok‘s sophisticated, rich and beautiful vocals worked wonders as she sang a medley of her famous songs such as “Regardez” which was dedicated to all female and children victims of bullying or abuse, and “Suddenly” which was dedicated in memory of artists who had passed on in the past year. Despite all the hubbub happening around me, Karen’s voice and performance was truly the one which had touched me the most deeply over the course of the night. Simple yet so full of heart, each note she sang filled me with a mixed set of emotions; warmth, comfort, sadness, and most importantly love. Especially in regards to all the uncertainty that exists in this world of ours, Karen’s voice I believe will always be a welcome addition.

As expected, the big winners of the night were Sodagreen who took home four awards, while Mandopop and Taiwanese Pop Kings JJ Lin and Jacky Chen took home two respectively. Julia Peng gave an emotional speech after being crowned this year’s Best Mandarin Female Vocalist after 20 years, while Huang Fei was more than deserving of the Best Taiwanese Female Vocalist award. See here for the full list of winners. All in all, it was a great night, all I wish was that I could have had more time to revel in the festivities!