A-Lin – OST (Original Sound Track)
This OST compilation has made it onto this list just because A-Lin sings and writes some of the most heart rendering romantic songs in Mandarin and Taiwan history. Down to earth and yearning her crisp voice has been the trademark to her success today. A Kind of Sorrow, the theme song of film ‘More Than Blue’, won her the Best Original Film Song at the Golden Horse Film Awards, which later spurred Warner Chappell to sign a worldwide publishing agreement with the popstar (updated on Jan 17, 2020). This compilation reminds us some of her best performance to date.
Wakin Chau (Emil) – The Younger Me
Wakin has always lived beyond his age. With lyrics that demand that similar breeze of nonchalance he exuded in his early singing career ever since releasing his very first album around thirty-three years ago, we are assured nonetheless with his voice that oozes tenacity and sophistication we needed in this wacky world. A seasoned lyricist, he has released his most poetic work of art to date, lyrically and musically. But no one will ever forget his two biggest hit songs in the Mandarin music scene in the 90s, 朋友 (1997) and 讓我歡喜讓我憂 (1991). And for that, we will always remember Wakin Chau (Emil).
Yuna – Rouge
A collection of collaborations with some of the most creative storytellers, visual creators and artists of this century, Yuna’s work cannot be viewed in totality without the impressionistic visuals that came with the tracks. This Malaysian singer has come a long way since her debut in 2010. Committing to growing as an artist, Rouge is an album filled with new materials that added complex musical textures coupled with the sexy and vogue voice that still remains the most voluminous element that got us intrigued this far.
Marion Jola – Marion
Marion’s track Tak Ingin Pisah Lagi with Rizky Febian remains the greatest ‘tease’ of 2019. The Bahasa album shows that lyricism in the Indonesian language still emit some of the region’s more subtle and almost corny expressions found in poetry which we all secretly love, but find too embarrassed to admit. Favorite Sin seemed to be the most disappointing track in the album just because of its commercial objective to gain Latin Dance listeners, which we all know are still some of the world’s largest money making genre. As this is Marion’s very first album with Universal Music, we guessed it wouldn’t be an artistic but rather a commercial choice.
Meet Bros. – Dream Girl
This dance album has made it into our chart for very few reasons. While other albums in the chart delve in the complexity of relationships and life’s challenges, Dream Girl is nothing but fun and entertaining. Although its most popular track Ik Mulaqaat gained an impressive 8 million plays on Spotify, the Bollywood-styled music video gained a monumental 98 million views on YouTube (numbers updated on Feb 2020). In many ways, the mini album is able to summon courage and joy from the fragility that drives love. In fact, its lyrics have been shared with some of the most budding and youngest staff at Music Press Asia’s office as a solace for love and new friendships.
Alif and SonaOne – Detail
Malaysia’s most celebrated hip hop creators collaborate to produce some of trendiest tease in town comfortably merging two opposite Latin vocabularies. Their banters beautifully magnify the alternative modernism in the lives of urban millennials and their perspectives under desperate circumstances. Sang Saka Biru is an exotic and daring rendition figuratively lauding some of the region’s oldest poems. Exceptional descriptive on how our selfish nature can sometimes match the carnal nature of wild animals.
F.Hero – Into The New Era
All hell broke loose when Thai rapper F.Hero appeared at BabyMetal’s live performance of Pa Pa Ya!! Since then, we have been keeping him under our radar. His latest mega album, released under Bangkok-based What The Duck music label (who also represents Whal & Dolph at No.34), believes in the power of team work, marks one of the largest collaboration of 2019 on our list made in one single album. It has everything from a chill contemplative beat with P-Hot and YOUNGOHM & FYMME, BamBam (GOT7), sway ready with Wonderframe to ingratiating arrangement with FIIXD and M-Pee.
Nickthereal – What A Life
Nick Chou’s latest EP is just the preliminary to what we’ll be seeing from this Taiwanese actor, rapper and singer songwriter. After bagging Top 10 Artists from KKBOX Music Awards in 2018, he went on to release more singles including I Am The Man (Sony Music), Savage (Spinnin’ Records) and i GO (Sony Music) before taking on a more committal EP project, What A Life. Already a regional sensation in the Mandarin scene, this EP is perhaps more of what is expected of Nick. Not because he is expected to follow the progressive career protocol of a post new artists, but because we know it’ll be a breezy ride and he’ll be supreme under pressure.
Fujifabric – F
Can’t deny that Japan has some of the best classic rock bands outside America. Another absolute suave Japanese band Fujifabric released a 9-track album with Sony Music belting what we could only describe as smooth brew made for perfection. While we may still be pondering on the eloquent titles of each track [Koisuru Pasta, Feverman, High and High], the album gently opens with Walk On The Way lures us towards the dragon’s den for more alternative progressions crossing disco, surf and pop. Fujifabric has proved its versatility in producing album after album of perfectly engineered works of art since 2002, the year they released Arakaruto. Impressively funky today, their sound has grown exploring the variation of rockability of a seasoned collaborations among the finest Japanese musicians we have heard thus far.
Nao Matsushita – Synchro
The only album mixing instrumental and songs we’ve chosen for 2019, Nao’s skillfulness on the piano could not escape from what others have equally deserved as best albums of the year 2019. She exposes us to some of the smoothest jazz progressions followed by mesmerizing, symphonic sounds with Brillante and 2 Pianos. We did hear a pinch of what may be purely inspired by Miyazaki, but that did not detract from the fact that Synchro provided a thorough yet simplistic element of how entertaining music can really be enjoyed.