Hong Kong pop diva Karen Mok has had long-standing history in the Chinese music industry. We say “long-standing” because she has previously released a whopping total of 16 successful Mandarin/Cantonese album. And now, the artiste, who has a half-Chinese, half-Welsh father and a half-Chinese, one quarter-Iranian and a quarter-German mother, has finally released her first ever English album, “Somewhere I Belong”.
Karen has always said that her lifelong dream is to someday release her own English album.
Well, she has finally found her belonging!
Consisting of 10 tracks, the album blends the sounds of jazz and classical Chinese instruments. As a matter of fact, the album features Karen Mok herself playing the traditional Chinese instrument, the “guzheng” (a Chinese zither-like instrument). She utilizes her skill from which she mastered many years ago whilst covering a popular Beatles song, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. It’s by far our favourite song off the entire album, and you’ll see why:
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We love her personal interpretation! If that song didn’t break all cross cultural barriers between the East and the West to create a song (albeit a cover) that is still uniquely Karen’s, we don’t know what else will. Oh, actually, we do. Some of the songs that she has clearly recreated with jazz are such as “Cross Over Bourbon Street” (originally by Sting) and “Sour Times” (originally by Portishead). Of course, she hasn’t completely forgone her true calling, which are two Chinese songs that were included in the album – yes, also beautifully done with a touch of jazz. Such as, “The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships“.
“The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships“ was one of the many jazz-Chinese marriages that we loved in “Somewhere I Belong”:
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Here’s a little trivia – “The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships” is a figure of speech that stands for Helen of Troy. Helen of Troy (formerly of Sparta) was so beautiful that Greek men went to Troy and fought the Trojan War to win Helen back from Paris. The thousand ships refer to the Greek troops that set sail from Aulis to Troy where the Trojan prince Paris had taken Menelaus’ wife, Helen.
A snippet of Karen’s song, translated into English, would mean something like this:
Who would still demand equality,
While begging for a kiss on bended knee?
Anyone would do it,
who cares for any promise?
The sacrifice is still exciting.
It’s an instinct to captivate all the world,
The face that launched a thousand ships;
To escape boredom, you can’t stop,
For a man that’s the only life there is.
While listening to “Somewhere I Belong” a few times over, we envisioned being curled up all nice and cozy in a dimly lit room with a glass of wine in hand. If you closed your eyes, the make believe almost becomes real because Karen has created such an unique album that seamlessly integrates the two different but popular genres of music without forgoing her musical talents. And believe us when we say that even we can’t begin to list out the many different talents that she possesses.
It’s versatility at its best.
Karen Mok’s “Somewhere I Belong” is now available at a music store near you. Alternatively, you could also purchase her album off iTunes here.
For more information, visit her official website.