G.E.M – City Zoo [Album & Music videos Reviews]
Title: City Zoo Artist: G.E.M Label: Sony Music Taiwan Release: December 27, 2019
G.E.M is such a literal queen like. Ughhh THE POWER SHE POSSESSES. Do I know Mandarin? No. Are there any translations for what these lyrics mean for more than half the album? No.Do I know anything about musical theory? No. So what exactly is the review going to be about? Simple: Can a bitch bop or not?
This is G.E.M’s first album since her departure from Hummingbird label, so I imagine there is a lot of hidden meanings behind a few of these songs. She was the executive producer for this album. She made contributions to the lyrics, composition, and production. Let us explore.
City Zoo (Title Track)
I love the visuals of this mv. I love the computerization of everything and I feel like this fits the vibe of the whole song. She looks so stunning the various scenes. It is almost like a video game. The solid imagery that accentuates her lyrics. The incorporation of various album cover arts is a fun idea. The lyrics talk about the hardship behind every choice we make and our darkest desires. All that deep shit aside, we need to talk about that fucking BASS. Listen.. this shit be BANGING in my car.
Full Stop (Promotional Single)
This song is basically an ode to her 12 year career. The hairstyles in this video a callback to her previous videos. It’s a breakup song for her and Hummingbird. She talks about how naïve she was when she had first started and how everything has come to a full stop. I love how representative it is as the last song on the album before she added Still That Girl.
Selfless (Promotional Single)
So this video is a vibe. Selfless is so simple to understand, that there isn’t much explanation needed. The arrangement amplifies the feeling present. The symbolism of the chameleon which is an animal that blends in and becomes invisible along side giving up yourself in a relationship and becoming selfless. I love G.E.M’s voice.
Miss Similar (Pre-Release)
What is up with Asian people and wanting to wear dreads so badly? Girl take them shits out please and thank you. I am actually quite uncomfortable with how closely the rubber skin resembles black face. I am sure there’s a lot of symbolism in this, but I just can’t get over the goofy ass braids. Now as for the song itself, it is the only rap song on the album and gives a kind of Eminem “Lose Yourself” vibe. I actually was able to see the translation for the lyrics and I can see exactly what she was going for with the lyrics and visual. She is attacking the standards for society and how everything has these ridiculous connotations of what it means to be perfect. The last verse hones home how she too wanted to be more similar to what is acceptable in society for women and that it took a long time for her to break away.
WALK ON WATER (Soundtrack Release)
This song was the Chinese theme song for the latest Terminator movie which I didn’t even know existed. There isn’t much of a music video as it is just her standing in various rooms and occasional parallels to Terminator scenes. The video also has scenes from the movie captured in it. The song has a kind of deep house pop vibe to it and fully captures the air of confidence that it is aiming for. Even before knowing what the lyrics were saying I could tell that this was a song that was about being confident because of the hook.
I read that Fly Away is centered on G.E.M’s wish to express her inner struggles and desire to share her mood with others. I can definitely feel the force and desperation behind the words when she sings the catchy hook. I find myself mesmerized by the haunting sound that seems to fill the vastness. It feels very powerful like the type of song that someone belts when pleading with a love one. The subtleness of the drum and the way it swells into the chorus is so beautifully done and quite effective
I always immediately think of a pensive mood and hidden character when I hear songs that start off with a piano note. As the song progresses beyond the 1 minute mark, I feel like there’s a sense of longing. This songs puts me in a somber mode. Her vocals are very touching and warming. The 3 minute mark when it’s a full orchestra band then falls back into the quite piano for three beats before bringing back that full soft band sound? DELICIOUS. I can put this one on if I’m in the mood to be dramatic with the rain falling on my windows.
This song is definitely about her mother right? I will admit it is the song that I skip at about midway, but I’m sure that if I knew what she was saying I would like it more. It just reminds me of a simple soft rap style that’s similar to what the K-hip hop crew goes for. Nothing particularly special about this one.
This is like a NCT song, but an actually good one. A bop to bop! It’s like so quiet at parts but then so very alarming and not jarring in the least. The production is so good and add in the belts and vocals, I know people would try to steal this shit but they can’t imitate this excellence!
This is a sweet and soft song. I can very easily imagine this as the OST for a TV show. I can tell that it is a love song. Very simple and pure.
Don’t Force it (with Eric Chou)
BITCH. How are you gonna include Eric Chou and think I would not stan? That man’s voice is literally like honey. I was fortunate enough to find the translation for these lyrics and ohmygod it is such a beautiful break-up ballad. Even if I didn’t know what the lyrics were saying, the entire mood and arrangement would make it very obvious this is a breakup song. Why do their voices sound so beautiful together? Please don’t touch me, I am having a moment. I am trying to get wifed up by Eric Chou.
This is like a synth pop sound that is kind of tired out. This could very easily be the sister track to Tao’s “Beggar”… I feel like this may have been one of the songs that she recorded in L.A.
Still That Girl
I love the pop rock vibe of this one. I can assume that she is talking fiercely about how she is still the baddest bitch in this place. I literally fell in love with it immediately. I can feel the determination behind her voice. This song ended the album on a perfect note.
Overall, I found this album to be very strong. Some songs stood out more than others. However, there is a song for everyone and it doesn’t take away from the charm and charisma of both the artist and the album. It was a very good piece of work that showcased the growth she has had as an artist 12 years into her career. I am excited to see what else she will do and how else she will transform with her new label.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5