Khalil Fong

One of the things I’m surprised and grateful I got into this year was Chinese pop. I never actively stayed away from it or anything, but being involved with Kpop is like being in a long-term (very tedious, time-consuming) relationship. There just wasn’t room for another fascination. But then I randomly downloaded a Wang Lee Hom album and then came this guy, Khalil Fong.

Khalil Fong is a Chinese artist, born in Hawaii, raised in Shanghai. He’s pretty much an ABC like Wang Lee Hom but I feel like he’s less “polished”-ly Chinese than Leehom. I don’t mean this specifically regarding English-speaking skills but he grew up in Asia for the most part and his Chinese feels more genuine somehow. It doesn’t have an obvious American accent, whereas Leehom’s Chinese is painfully American even if he speaks perfectly and pronounces everything correctly. That lack of polished American sounding Chinese is something that adds to the authenticity of Khalil’s songs and sounds, I think. Even moreso, Khalil’s Mandarin accent is a Cantonese one, not an American one. When I listen to Khalil’s songs, I’m not listening to his pronunciation of words but to the music itself. I don’t think I can say the same for Leehom’s music — one, he likes doing English inserts in his songs and two, you can hear his American accent in his singing.

But back to Khalil’s music: “Wonderland” is an amazing album. It’s not an album from 2008 but it is definitely one of my favorites this year. It’s got SUCH a light sound, which manages to be a medley of jazz and acoustics and just . . . flavor. The lyrics are also really simple and uncomplicated but manage to say a lot of things all at once. Some lyrics from the beginning of “Love Song,” the italicized bits are my translations:

Love Song

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我寫了這首歌 是一首簡單歌
不複雜也不難唱的那一種歌
這不是 那種 只剩下那鋼琴的歌
也不是 那種 不能只是朋友的歌
這不是 那種 兩個人的故事寫在一本小說 
那小說裡有誰在花田裡犯的錯
這就是 一首寫給你聽的一個

Love Song 一直想寫一首 
Love Song 你給了我一首 
Love Song 那DJ會播放 
這也許會上榜 
不過我只想寫出一首

I wrote a love song, it’s a simple love song
A song that is not complicated or difficult to sing
It’s not a “Express through the piano” type of song
Or a “We can’t only be friends” type of song
It’s not a “A novel written about two people” type of song
The kind of novel about someone making mistakes in flower fields*
It is, a song I wrote for you to listen to

Love song, a song I’ve always wanted to write
Love song, a song you’ve given me
Love song, which the DJ will play
Which will also get on the charts
But, I only wrote one

* This line is poking fun at all those fake, silly romantic impasses where the boy and girl have deep, quiet, thoughtful conversations with each other in “flower field” type settings, typical in romantic scenarios.

Two more songs from the album:
够不够 (Gou bu gou, Is it enough)

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The first line from this song is great:

你爸爸妈妈不会随便让你嫁
有财能够讲话

Your mom and dad wouldn’t randomly let you get married
If he has capabilities, he can speak

未来 (Wei lai, Future)

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Every single song off the album is enjoyable. Pensive, reflective, soulful. ♥

  • Melissa

    I’ve tried out Khalil’s ‘Ai Ai Ai’ album and ‘Wonderland’ but haven’t listened to the latter. But I found what you wrote very interesting in that Leehom’s Chinese sounds American. My pragmatic competence is 0 when it comes to Mandarin so these smaller nuances like intended meaning are totally lost on me. Either way, I understand .5% of what’s being said so…

    I do know that one of Leehom’s songs is called Flower Field Mistake in his Heroes of Earth album I believe. So your side-note made me giggle (regardless if that’s what Leehom sings about in that song. I didn’t even really understand the English translation of it too much anyway so maybe I’m just a shmuck in the end =_=).

    • http://evacuatewithstyle.org/ Amy

      I do know that one of Leehom’s songs is called Flower Field Mistake

      ! You’re right. *listens to it*

      lol Leehom. “Listen to mah erhu” -_-