While international acts from the US and UK dominate some of the charts in Asia, some Asian acts have also emerged and are lately getting noticed.
This very welcome development, by the way, is separate from continued popularity of KPop [Korean Pop] not only in Asia but across the world. And so though long in coming, Asian acts are finally getting their voices heard across the region.
For “Music Geek’s” debut in The Manila Times Entertainment, here are three acts who have the potential to be on every Asian listener’s playlist.
* * *
Gentle Bones. Joel Tan a.k.a Gentle Bones is a 21-year-old Singaporean singer/ composer whose sophomore EP Geniuses & Thieves is released digitally in the Philippines and Asia. He recently won the Hong Kong Asian-Pop Music Festival 2016 Supernova award; got featured in the inaugural “Forbes 30 under 30” Asia list; and had two sold out concerts at the Singapore Esplanade Concert in June.
From being an independent artist, he was first to be signed up by Universal Music Singapore on their domestic roster. Geniuses & Thieves is Tan’s debut under the major label and his second EP as an artist.
While the artist’s initial indie release is classified under the acoustic and multi-layered pop vocals genre, Geniuses & Thieves shows Tan’s new sound, comprised of sprawling electro-sonics and infectious hooks. This new direction is evident with his released singles “Geniuses & Thieves” and “Run Tell Daddy.” There are also R&B influences on other tracks making this EP masterfully done, showcasing his talent both as a songwriter and vocalist.
With Geniuses & Thieves just an EP, you just crave for more and wished that he released a full album instead.
* * *
Nana Ou Yang. She is a 15-year-old Taiwanese actress/musician who releases album as a cellist. Her album, aptly titled 15, will take the listener into a classical journey with 15 tracks, including Mendelssohn’s cello sonatas, “Songs Without Words” and William Henry Squire’s “Tarantella Op 23 For Cello and Piano.” Yang reportedly spent three days recording the album, for around 10 hours each day.
Her talent in music became apparent at the age of four. When she was five years old she began to study piano. At 6 years old, Yang started to take lessons from famous cello teacher Mei-Ying Liao. She was the youngest cellist ever to give a solo recital at the National Concert Hall of Taiwan, and already held a solo recital at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing when she was 15. Since then, Yang has been recognized by Taiwanese media as a role model in the classical music industry and a promising new star. In an industry dominated by pop, it is refreshing to hear a millennial release a classical album.
* * *
Darren Espanto. Not winning The Voice Kids doesn’t mean you can’t have a good career. Proof of this is 15-year-old Filipino-Canadian Darren Espanto who placed as runner-up in the first season of ABS-CBN’s popular singing reality search.
From concerts, awards to hosting stints, there seems to be nowhere to go for Darren but up. He released his debut album in 2014 which immediately turned Platinum. This year, his sophomore album Be With Me came out not only via CDs here in the Philippines but also in Singapore and Korea. Espanto toured Singapore in June to promote his album and judging from the recent uploaded video of his visit on his VEVO channel, it seems not only overseas Filipinos but also Singaporeans were enamored with this talented kid in the Lion City.
Going back to the album, compared to his debut record Be With Me boasts of having both foreign and local composers contributing their work for the young singer, giving it a more international sound. Great examples are his singles “7 Minutes,” “Starlight” and “Parachute” written by foreign composers, plus the songs written by Philippines’ very own in “Alam” (Jungee Marcelo), “Be With Me” (Kiko Salazar), and “Surrender” (Jay-R).
Espanto likewise dabbled into composing for this album with the melancholic “Home,” and the mid-tempo track “Hanggang Hi Hello.” Here’s hoping that the release of his albums in Asia will be the start of his international career.