Music Radar: 2020 Q1

Asia’s Top 20 Music Albums [Q1 2020]

A selection of music albums published and released over the last twelve months (03/19 to 03/20), Music Press Asia hunt down some of Asia’s most modeled, fanatical and remarkable collections you want to put on your playlist this year.  

Music Press Asia's Q1 Playlist. Top l-r: OSN, Joe Hisaishi, Jay Chao. Bottom l-r: Hindia, Official HIGE DANdism.

Music Press Asia's Q1 Playlist. Top l-r: OSN, Joe Hisaishi, Jay Chao. Bottom l-r: Hindia, Official HIGE DANdism.

Office Weekly Playlist can last you a year’s worth of listening, which consists of only 20 albums. It is a list that truly brought our collective and thinking caps together. And six months on, curated from a relatively large library covering 15 million songs, twenty albums had been selected for insertion to this list.

Quarter 1, 2020 Music Playlist: Best 20 music album selections selected from a period between Mar, 19 to Mar, 20.

20. Artiste: Dean Fujioka / Album: History In The Making
With anything less than over the top, Fujioka’s first song on his latest album History In The Making exudes a spirited rapture — an inspiration adapted very likely from Tchaikovsky’s orchestration. With plans to ‘make history’, this album infuses modern hip hop with a twist and stands out from the other overused material coming from the Europe and the U.S. today. It bears musical elements transitioned from the 90s, and deliberated a youthful eagerness while staying grounded infusing structurally sound realism that complimented the aesthetics. Definitely worth a 60-minute listen in its entirety.

19. Artiste: Masaki Sudo / Album: LOVE
Nothing beats a beautifully mastered progressive rock album. Masaki Suda’s voice gracefully fits the music to a tea; his angelic voice is an instant appeal to the classic rock world. Tsumoru Hanashi shows an even more delicate execution of his voice, a perfect track for a breather midway. Featuring Aimyon in Kiss Dakede, the increasing passion gradually resulted in the exoneration the album’s grand intention: an homage to love. Listen here.

18. Artiste: Rich Brian / Album: The Sailor
An honest personification of everyday threat in the lives of those on the streets. Rich undertakes a grand cultural expression far beyond his age. In the track Yellow, featuring Bekon, is a ghastly attempt in many ways, obliging almost, to expand his signature sound and moving away from the previous album. At the peak of his career, Rich raps his creative journey in Kids, from which he detailed his life-changing moments to the music record label that started it all, and Sean. This kid is witty and down-to-earth and deserves all the poise of today’s youth culture.

17. Artiste: Masaharu Fukuyama / Album: Double Encore
Let the strumming of Fukuyama’s classic guitar whisk you away from the harsh realities of life in this sing-a-long live recording. Soulful rendition of bygone times, mixed with an atmospheric live audience, ties the missing link absent from many studio recordings today. Bask in simplistic folk accompanied by rich piano, strings and excess guitar strumming. Listen here.

16. Artiste: OSN / Album: #OSN
OSN takes the best of Chinese hip hop from the 90s; a breed inspired from the pioneers such as Jay Chao and Leehom Wang. OSN’s latest album has much to say; it is lyrically smooth and tackles an expanding yet clever rhythmic ideas incorporating traditional and modern instrumentation. His blend of the east and west culminates in the album’s skillful songwriting we all hope to see more from artistes and songwriters today. Nonetheless, futuristic! Watch music video here.

OSN, Taiwanese rapper released self-titled album in 2019, a practice undertaken in the beginning of their careers. Music Press Asia.

15. Artiste: Hindia / Album: Menari Dengan Bayangan
Hindia’s latest album takes on a convincing leap into the 21st century by creating a collective of prayerful mantras. Meditative and invigoratingly unique, the album exudes raw and refreshing material original of Indonesia’s rich and exotic gamelan culture mixed with some of rock’s greatest pleasure. A legitimate sound we recognized as original to the region of Southeast-Asia. Listen to album here.

14. Artiste: IV of Spades / Album: CLAPCLAPCLAP!
Heavily Beatles-influenced, Filipino funk rock band has a lot going for them at the moment. Its songs merit the flower power going strong in the 70’s; an era that continues to resonate favorably among its Indonesian audience. As the U.S., Europe and Greater China lean towards a rising hip hop era, intermittently pop rock is also undergoing a creative phase of its own via IV of Spades. Although its approach to songwriting is deeply founded around disco, the band has musically evolved like any young group in Southeast-Asia. Its sonic aesthetics is the lounge-pleasure version of their Japanese compatriots who attempt the same genre. Watch music video here.

13. Artiste: Mayday / Album: Life Live
A choir-full of leading Mandarin speaking artistes join this collective album celebrating almost four decades of metal and rock’s greatest mainstream hits and styles. Dubbed the young Bon Jovi of the west, Taiwanese band Mayday latest album Life Live was rated the best Mandarin album on this ‘Top 20 List’ because of its colorful, musical structure original to Taiwan and the region surrounding it. You wouldn’t find another Mayday any time soon. Watch live concert here.

According to and Lighthouse Research Institute, Mayday’s concert ticket sale over the 2017/2019 period comes right after Jay Chao. In 2019, China’s entertainment industry generated revenues of over 20bil yuan (USD2.8bil) from its top 10 most popular performers. Music Press Asia.

12. Artiste: Nik Makino / Album: Now I Know
From the very beginning, the 13-song album has been a highly provocative as well as controversial affair for its creators. While we may appreciate the art in its entirety, the creative squabble for Neneng B is forever remembered as part of a digitally evolved and technically enhanced capability adapted by the music industry — that worldwide, digital music distribution allows one to inspire another thousands of miles away. And for obvious reasons, competition is rife. Music is supposed to bring people together, not the other way round. With faith, we ought to acknowledge each others’ creative endeavors, to seek creativity deeply, and that relentless renewal of exploration will result in great original works. We can always start with India’s 300 individually-distinct ragas. Noteworthy album nonetheless. Listen to album here.

11. Artiste: Jay Park / Album: The Road Less Traveled
Our most favorite collaborative album so far, this project showed Jay Park’s commitment to create collaborations that symbolizes the extension of his friendship with other talented songwriters out there. While some of us can only imagine how challenging it can be when writing a song, we see Park’s extensive versatility over 17 songs — the only album on this list where each single can be appreciated individually. Continuity and expansive storytelling isn’t the theme here, but a series of stylish, personal delivery honoring brotherhood, affection and appreciation of each others’ capabilities. How sweet of Park! Listen to album here.

10. Artiste: Higher Brothers / Album: Five Stars
It is hard to deny that many of us were hooked since their heydays right after releasing 7 Eleven and Made In China. At first, the craze was all about its latest music video; visually painful, if not embarrassment for the Chinese breed, it took us many more plays before realizing the fact that we’ve stumbled across something unique. Higher Brothers have not looked back since. Secretly, we applaud their bold move; a fearlessness driven by decades of buried melancholy towards the derelict state of China’s social system. This kind of expression seeks a new and rising number of Asian audiences; the first of its kind in Chinese hip hop. “Five Stars”, part of a series of pilot releases prepping for more projects to come, is also an album that plays a huge part officiating its ties with record label, 88Rising.

9. Artiste: Padi / Album: Indera Keenam
Padi is creatively polishing up their acts since getting back together as a band in 2017. Ever since their first album in 1999, the band’s intermittent disappearance hasn’t been kind to growing a live audience in Indonesia’s music scene of late. However, what’s more exciting about a seasoned band like Padi isn’t in how many new songs it is releasing for its latest album, but the skillful versatility in capturing new as well as returning fans. In an attempt to reintroduce the sound that best represents Padi, its sixth album makes an eccentric statement of sort: by inserting six old singles and one new track, titled Kau Malaikatku. The pressure is on not only because it is another incredibly busy season for the band, but also on Sony Music Indonesia’s strategic investment in foreshadowing the release of Padi’s seventh album and its future plans; a prelude to something great we hope. Listen more here.

8. Artiste: TheOvertunes / Album: Memory Lane
Memory Lane sheds light into a palpable depiction of our existence and how we’d like to reminisce over the past. Tak Bisa Kupercaya is introspective and leisurely contemplates the improbable, whatever that may be. All in all, its artistic and romantic touch is carefully embellished and mastered with a more selective list of instrumentation; a great improvement with regards to sound compared to its previous album “Selamanya+”. Listen more here.

7. Artiste: Official HIGE DANdism / Album: Traveler
Japanese pop hits culminate in this one jubilant album before the world pondered downhill into the pool of a global pandemic, Covid-19. Yet Traveler’s optimism is the perfect respite from the ongoing chaos that has interrupted our daily lives. Indulging the album may seem temptingly spurious at the moment, but as fleeting as the moment it ignites, justice to its creators can only be achieved when listeners favorably embrace the naivety and smooth lyricism it has in its musical structures. Listen sparingly to avoid demystifying the album’s most captivating sound.

Pretender now has over 185mil views on YouTube. Immerse in Japan’s rock culture right here. Music Press Asia

6. Artiste: Jay Chao / Album: The Invincible Concert Tour
Nothing beats listening to a LIVE concert, especially of one such capricious performing artiste like Jay Chao. Still one of Taiwan’s largest entertainment exports, Jay Chao’s concert tickets continue to be in high demand all across Southeast Asia today. Jay pioneered the emerging hip hop era over a decade ago boldly mixing traditional Chinese instrumentation with modern musical styles including rap. Not forgetting his reinvention of classics from the 70s and 80s, which eventually won him multiple awards internationally. Jay Chao’s latest concert tour celebrates his best and most successful hits while introducing a slew of new faces to the crowd.

5. Artiste: Ben&Ben / Album: Limasawa Street
Battles between ABS-CBN and Sony is on! We don’t care anymore if everyone’s favorite is Sony’s track, Pagtingin (latest album “Limasawa Street”). Because we think Make It With You will go far, and remain popular for many decades to come. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the kindred spirits of producers and writers from both music companies: David Gates/STAR MUSIC and Paolo BG Guico, Jean P Verona/SONY MUSIC.

4. Artiste: Mamamoo /Album: reality in BLACK
From this newest album, track number Egotistic is beginning to gain real traction. As if perching on the best seat in the house of a music theater, we are eagerly looking and cheering on at those working and performing from Rainbowbridge World., the team that launched Mamamoo’s international fame. And so, like busy little ants, they write and produce some of the best merry-go-round tunes ever; those that only exist inside the entertainment parks of Disneyland. Truly commendable efforts.

3. Artiste: Pritam / Album: Kalank
No one is ready to let Pritam Chakraborty retire. At least not in the foreseeable future if you’re India and Bollywood’s most celebrated music producer this decade is enjoying. But words have been spoken: In a rare interview with Devarsi Ghosh published on, Pritam expressed his desire to retire from the tight deadlines and pressures of the entertainment business; an industry which reported to have earned around ₹4,000 crore in revenues in 2019, even after a 10% tax rate cut for movies tickets was put in place. Released under Zee Music Company, this bhajan soundtrack called on the big shots of the film and music industry – Arijit Singh, Abhishek Varman, Antara Mitra, Madhuri Dixit and more. Listen to Kalank here.

2. Artiste: BTS / Album: Map of the Soul 7
At the top of their career, this album (feat. Sia and Halsey), is expected to be BTS’s most sensational international release to date. Accumulating a huge and youthful followers along the way, this boy group and their agency, Bighit Entertainment, pioneered Korea’s largest investment the entertainment world has ever seen, and a successful one too. Korean pop culture is no longer a passing trend, but a significant powerhouse that has consistently provided economical benefits to Korea. Exciting dance beats and poetic renditions about young love and friendship are core themes focused on the album. Relish it before it is over. Listen to album here.

BTS has postponed all upcoming performance in the U.S. due to the spreading of latest pandemic, coronavirus Covid-19. Music Press Asia.

1. Composer: Joe Hisaishi / Album: Spirited Away Suite
Joe made his break into Japan’s mainstream pop culture by composing the soundtrack of anime film “Spirited Away”, and the rest we’d say is history. This 5-track album is only 47-minute long. But its originality continues to reverberate after many more variations. In this live recording album, the rich orchestration depicts a heroic adoration to the flawless musical brilliance of 21st century creativity.

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