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A Rant...About DT (Part 1)

Posted 08-20-2009 at 01:49 PM by yiliang
Updated 08-20-2009 at 01:57 PM by yiliang

Visited the YesAsia website to check on David Tao's latest album release date and saw the following comments:

manusapo@... said:

What happened to you David ?
"From the very beginning. David Tao's album had some sort of coherence. R&B, Hip-Hop, Soul, Pop feeling... With some hyper catchy tunes. Singalong tracks that you could repeat over and over late at night in Karaoke bars.
This Opus 69 seems to be a U-Turn in David's career. His tracks are more agressive, his voice seems tired and with a smoker habits feelin'. What happened to our finest mandarin songwriter ? David we waited so long to get this album... Seems like we gotta wait for another 3 years to get our genuine romantic Tao zhe back ! Sorry Dave did not like this one much !
"

Sherry said:

"not your typical DT album... Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10
i'm used to rnb music from DT but this is not your usual DT music. it's more rock and there aren't any songs that i have on repeat. i'm not a fan of rock so this is not a cd that i liked. i still support him though... he's talented though this cd is not my cup of tea.
"

It is amusing to listen to or read what fans have to say about David Tao's music and his albums. These blinkered people actually think that by buying his albums, giving it a couple of spins and then eventually just listening to the tracks that would make it as singles, the ones that would be played on radio, and they think they know David Tao's music.

“Not your typical David Tao album”. Alright, let's talk about genres and being “typical”. His debut album Taoism was a groundbreaking album. With the exception of Track 8, “王八蛋”, every other song on the album was done in variations of Blues music. As such, it can be classified as an R&B album.

His sophomore effort, “I'm OK” was actually a mid-tempo Rock or Retro Rock album. Only the tracks “普通朋友” & “天天” can really qualify as Blues music. “说走就走” is more Motown or Soul than true R&B. That's three out of thirteen tracks in his album. Also his second most commercially successful album, “I'm OK” did not follow in the footsteps, genre-wise, of its predecessor. David tried to reinvent himself , as he has ALWAYS done.

I won't elaborate on his third album, widely-seen as a Rock album based on the strength of his first single “Black Tangerine”. Which is part of the point of my article here. That the frames of media portrayal often do not show the true picture of things. The style of the album has to be defined by the entirety of its content, not just the singles you hear on the radio or watch on MTV. Many a self-proclaimed DT fans unfortunately, cannot see past that.

“Black Tangerine” only had one, ONE true R&B song, Track 5 “讨厌红楼梦”. Yet by the time this album was released, the media had given him the title “The Godfather of R&B”. It is not entirely inaccurate, while he was not the first to do R&B in the Mandopop scene, he was the one who made it mainstream. However, the title is misleading, as it gives people the impression that R&B is his forte (and to many, his only forte) but that again, is not the whole truth. Blues music is just ONE of his many fortes in music. The media has disregarded the fact that up to that point of his career, he has done more Rock songs than he has R&B music and the general public predictably, buys into the same perception wholesale.

“太平盛世”, his fourth studio album, comprised mainly of Hard Rock songs, Rock Ballads, Folk/Acoustic songs. The only Blues song featured on the album was Track 10 “2NIGHT.藏爱”. Yet the label of the “R&B singer” continued. Only with his fifth album, “太美丽”, a concept ballad album, did David return to his emphasis on R&B and love songs.

It is well known that “太美丽” is critically panned and not his most commercially successful work. But why? Isn't it an R&B album? Doesn't it feature tons of romantic ballads? It's also among all his studio albums, the closest in style to his debut album, isn't it? Then why is it not as successful? Don't DT fans just LOVE the “Typical DT album”? Can these fans honestly say that “太美丽” was one of his best albums? Put it in perspective, if the same material from his debut album were released today instead of 1997, it would still be a collection of great melodies, but will it still be as spectacular as an album that broke new ground?

Let's summarize here. Two albums out of five where R&B were the dominant genre in his studio albums prior to this. (“69乐章” is)Not your Typical DT album”? Yeah right.
Unless of course, 'Typical' means Rock, the dominant genre in three of his five albums, a genre he himself is most fond of, a die-hard fan of the Beatles, then yeah, “69乐章” IS, if nothing else, a “Typical DT album”!

What I think is a “Typical DT album” is a GREAT DT album. “69乐章” is a great album by the standards of Mandopop. It has the unpretentious rawness of “I'm OK” and the intensity of “Black Tangerine” in spades.

A repertoire of songs with the power to move you in a myriad of emotions, the likes of which not seen since the days of the “Black Tangerine” album or his “Soul Power Live” tours. Speaking of the latter, the discerning fan will notice that several songs like “谁的奥斯卡” and “应征爱” feature arrangements and vocal presentations that are reminiscent of his live concerts. A delightful aspect in this studio album.

Any fan of good music should get this album because, good music is just that. It transcends genres. David Tao is R&B, but even more so, David Tao is Rock. More importantly, David Tao is Good Music. That's what he himself believes in, that's what he strives for and that's what he represents. And Opus 69, “69乐章” is the best representation of what David Tao can do, in years.
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