Wednesday, October 1st, 2008
I’ve been streamlining my stuff recently, paring down my possessions, hoping to do the responsible thing by reducing my ecological footprint on the planet …
… actually, that’s not exactly true. I’m not a pious environmentalist, I’m a cheap bastard trying to reduce potential costs in case I have to move someday.
What does that have to do with the entertainment circle? Nothing really. It’s just the lead up to my latest excuse for delaying the long promised blog post on TVB’s GREEN GRASS OF HOME. If I delay it one more time, I may have to start a new blog category: “TVB Post Delay Excuses”.
Anyway, part of my streamlining process includes getting rid of my cassette tape (yes, I’m an old fart) and CD collections. As a result, I’ve been converting my favourite tracks to mp3s so that I can sell/donate/give away my tapes and CDs someday. While converting some selections from my “Rock Records Hit Songs Collection” CD, I came across Richie Ren’s 《對面的女孩看過來》 (Girl Over There, Look Over Here) and I thought it was a good candidate for an edition of “Old Cake” Cantopop — despite the fact the song isn’t THAT old and that it’s actually sung in Mandarin and not Cantonese.
Written and performed originally by Malaysian singer Tan Kheng Seong (陳慶祥; Chan Hing-Cheung aka Ah Niu; 阿牛), the song exploded in popularity when Richie Ren (Yam Yin-Chai) covered it for an EP in June 1998. Featuring a charming folksy sound, the song tells the story of a young boy trying to catch the attention of a girl he sees in the distance. The popularity of Ren’s cover version got Tan a Taiwanese record deal which helped him become known beyond the Malaysian market. Not only did the song help establish his singing career, it gave him a little bit of a film career as well because Tan got a movie role when 《對面的女孩看過來》 was featured in the Richie Ren-Sammi Cheng romantic comedy SUMMER HOLIDAY in 2000. Tan parlayed that performance into two roles in 2001 movies: a supporting role in the Aaron Kwok musical PARA PARA SAKURA and a lead role in the inspirational comedy/drama TAKE 2 IN LIFE.
I’ve done a rough translation of the lyrics (see below) and uploaded the karaoke videos for both the original Ah Niu and Richie Ren remake versions. As always, you can buy CDs that feature this song from YesAsia (Richie Ren, Ah Niu).
- In the Ah Niu version, the spoken parts have Ah Niu saying that he is “very ugly but very gentle”, a girl calling Ah Niu “crazy” and, at the end, a girl saying that Ah Niu is “gross”.
- In the Richie Ren version, the spoken part at the end has Ren sighing and saying: “forget it, let’s go home”.
- While Ren definitely delivers a more polished performance, there is an otaku-like, underdog charm to Ah Niu’s version that makes it, to me, the better version. That said, it’s a great song and both versions are enjoyable.
- On a tangential note, a testament to Sammi Cheng’s immense popularlity during her run in the early part of this decade was that she remained a box office queen in spite of the fact that she played some really despicable characters in her movies. She was an unpleasant workaholic in SUMMER HOLIDAY, a mean-spirited bitch in FIGHTING FOR LOVE, a golddigger in MARRY A RICH MAN and yet another bitch in MY LEFT EYE SEES GHOSTS. It’s actually quite remarkable because those aren’t exactly Charlene Choi, Hong Kong’s sweetheart type roles.
Image credits: Richie Ren’s Blog (Richie Ren)