What is this? I’ve liked many things throughout the years. While some have fallen out of my attention, others remain firmly cemented in my memories and feelings. So, I’ve decided to start a mini-series where each week (hopefully), I pick something random that I like or have liked and discuss it, why I like it, and its impact on me. These things can be varied, and range from more trivial matters such as my favourite animal, to books, games, and movies I’ve liked, to topics that have shaped who I am as a person. The posts, accordingly, will vary in length.
Welcome back to another
episode installment of TIL. This week’s topic is a bit of a departure from the usual fare.
Those of you that know me may know that I don’t listen to vocal music that much. A cursory examination of my phone turns up hundreds of video game tracks (mostly Touhou, but some others are there), but only about 50 vocal tracks (half of which I don’t listen to often). How is this relevant? Well, today’s topic is an amateur singer on bilibili named 雪霏嵐嵐. Bilibili is a Chinese clone of Niconico and is the hub of most modern nerd culture in Chinese. Like NND, it allows users to make danmaku comments that fly across the screen. Similar to NND, passionate members of many fandoms gather here to create fan covers of songs from anime, TV, games, and more. Some even post themselves dancing. The culture is really cool as pretty much all but the most popular of these individuals are not pros, yet put countless hours into practicing, polishing, and releasing their works. I don’t want to discredit the many Western people who also do the same, but it’s really on another level in Asia.
Anyways, I’ve gotten too far off topic. I specifically bring up this specific singer for a couple reasons:
- She has a really good voice
- You’ll have to judge this one for yourself.
- Is relatively not well known (“only” ~134k subs on bilibili)
- Smaller fandoms always feel more cozy and have less drama than large 1M+ subscriber channels.
- Covers Cantonese!
- I personally am quite concerned about the decline in Cantonese speakers both in China and worldwide, as people have kids that either just speak Mandarin (in Asia) or English (in the West), so seeing young singers such as this one and her collab partners make me proud of my language, and appreciating such performers I feel is part of my obligation to make sure my culture continues on.
- It helps that Cantonese songs usually have way better lyrics than the Mandarin version. I don’t know if this is an inherent limitation of Mandarin, but slow songs in Cantonese always have way more elegant, Classical, and less prosaic lyrics. This singer has a separate lyricist (or she covers songs with well-known Cantonese versions), but still.
Here’s some of my top of all time favorites from this singer.
桃花雪 (Peach Flower Snow)
Originally a Mandarin Vocaloid song, this was recorded by 雪霏嵐嵐 as the “original singer” of the Cantonese version. It’s a slow song, but with a clear and defined melody and flow, which gives it tons of points in my eyes. Some people think slow songs are boring, but it really depends on how the music flows. Of course, it’s performed well and the lyrics are great too. (It’s a bit too sad for me though, it’s about someone singing in melancholy about their memories of a lover who’s now far away).
Here (no embeds for Bilibili, sorry. To disable the scrolling comments, click the blue toggle under the video player)
This is from the Kyoto Animation original anime series Violet Evergarden. I don’t remember the details of what happened except for the art was beautiful and the music was good. This is a Cantonese cover of the OP. Besides the great performance, my favorite aspect of this is the masterfully written lyrics. In a nutshell, the show is about a war-traumatized young girl called Violet rediscovering her emotions through writing. The Cantonese lyrics constantly tie these two aspects together with a flower metaphor: flower == Violet, flower blooming == Violet maturing and taking control of her emotions. My absolute favorite lines from this cover are:「在愛植種與心田時／唯有深耕細作／總有日滿開紫羅蘭／情有花香可寄託」 meaning “When love is planted in the fields of the heart / one can only deeply plow and take meticulous care / when one day the Violets bloom fully / (my) emotions can be carried by the scent of the flowers”. Ugh, right in the feels, perfectly reflecting the theme of the story.
一花依世界 (One Flower Relying on the World)
If the first selection was for the music and the second for lyrics, this one is for performance. I don’t feel that strongly about the music or lyrics, though they aren’t bad. What I do love, though, is her performance. It’s a refreshing and clear voice that reminds one of a Peaceful Summer Night’s Breeze (+1 if you get the reference). Of course, there’s editing going on, but in my experience, singers on bilibili really keep it to a minimum. Many also livestream, where fans can hear their real unprocessed voice, and it’s pretty much the same, with less echo.
- 想變得可愛 (I Wanna Become Cute), Japanese
- I love her voice in this one, it’s not overly cutesy and high pitched like other covers of this already-too-sugary song.
- 沒什麼 (Nandemonaiya), Japanese
- The famous song from Your Name. Excellent performance again.
- 冰心鎖 (Let It Go), Cantonese
- The famous song from Frozen, I liked the low voice at the beginning, she strains a bit at the high parts at the end.
See you in the next one!