My Favourite Music #2: Ellen Joyce Loo

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Ellen Loo

Ellen Loo, aka Rockmui (lit. "rock girl"), was a Canadian born Canto/Mandopop singer-songwriter. She started her music career at the age of 15 when she and Eman Lam formed the folk-pop rock duo at17 in 2002 (which I may write another blog later). The group split and Ellen started her solo career in 2010, as well as being a professional guitarist.

You can follow the link for her bio. Here in this blog, I'd introduce Ellen through her music.

Arrogant

Arrogant (link to MV on YouTube) was a Cantonese song from her album Riding on Faith in 2013. The theme was on the many TV reality contest shows, and urged those "losers" on maintaining their arrogant attitude towards their music rather than doing popular stuff to appease the masses. The lyrics played on the homophones beast (獸) and show (秀), so "be a beautiful beast" could also be read as "have a good show".

囂張 Arrogant

music by Ellen Loo, lyrics by Chow Yiu-fai

在頭上有花 突然就會開出晶瑩下晝
There are flowers on the head, suddenly bloom into a sparkling afternoon
右臂有些逆麟 破損受傷經常有
On the right arm there are some reversed scales; damages and injuries are often
在眉下有霜 突然落到心中鋪平內疚
There is frost under the eyebrows, suddenly falls into the heart and paves the guilt
就發怪的夢 就算尾巴獨角多罕有
Have a weird dream, even though tail and unicorn horn are so rare

若沒有人選你 就別靠人保佑
If nobody picks you, don't rely on people's blessings
用鯨魚浮出水的溫柔 做美好的獸
With the tenderness of a whale emerging from the water, be a beautiful beast
若沒有人選我 但未夠人荒謬
If nobody picks me, but [I'm] not as absurd as the others
為著能夠 就有好理由
For that [we] can, there's a good reason
讓我邀請我們 走
Let me invite us and...go

大城沒耳朵 未能像我聽到音樂在奏
The big city has no ears, it can't listen to the music playing like I do
盛世太少味蕾 你伸脷尖舔銅銹
In prosperity there are too few taste buds, you stick out [your] tongue to lick the patina
未來沒法選 但前面有一班珍禽異獸
The future can't be chosen, but in front there are a bunch of rare birds and beasts
就幹怪的事 就趁尾巴獨角還原後
Then do something weird, while the tail and unicorn horn are restored

若沒有人選你 就別靠人保佑
If nobody picks you, don't rely on people's blessings
用白蛇盤於草的溫柔 做美好的獸
With the tenderness of a white snake coiling in the grass, be a beautiful beast
若沒有人選我 但未夠人荒謬
If nobody picks me, but [I'm] not as absurd as the others
為著能夠 就有好理由
For that [we] can, there's a good reason
沒有幾多要等候
Nothing much to wait for

若沒有人選你 在暴雨狂風後
If nobody picks you, after the wild storm
用自由而囂張的溫柔 做美好的獸
With the free and arrogant tenderness, be a beautiful beast
若沒有人選我 但未怕人依舊
If nobody picks me, but [I'm] not afraid of people staying still
為著能夠 就有好理由
For that [we] can, there's a good reason
讓我邀請我們 走
Let me invite us and...go

Death Note at 29

Death Note at 29 (link to MV on YouTube) was released in late 2015 just before her 30th birthday. It was a period after she suffered from depression. She released her frustration by splashing paints on canvas, and got distinctive tattoos on her arms. Although the song title sounded negative, it was in fact a motivating song to mark her turning 30.

廿九歲的遺書 Death Note at 29

music by Ellen Loo, lyrics by Wyman Wong

將鬱躁滋味 紋上右臂
Take the feeling of depression and tattooed [them] on [my] right arm
不蓋掩 我傳奇
It doesn't cover my legend
不只有焦慮 還有樂器
Not only anxiety, there're also musical instruments
跟我走 赴遠地
Follow me, travel afar

重生 童年若不欣喜 何妨自今天起
Reborn. If childhood wasn't happy, why not starting from today
人生 人人話自三張起
Life. Everyone says starting from the 30s
不必 太悲
It doesn't have to be too sad

揮揮手 告別這字頭
Wave the hands and farewell this number [two]
今天起 快樂我自求
From today on, I seek happiness myself
不想將 畏懼當最知心朋友
[I] don't want "fear" to become my best friend
寫首歌 慶賀轉字頭
Write a song to celebrate turning to the next number
這雙手 決定以後不發抖
These hands decide not to tremble in future
捧著結他救地球
Hold the guitar and save the world

青春太鋒利 橫掃萬里
Youth is too sharp, sweeping thousands of miles
可擦穿厚面皮
Can wipe through thick skin
新天與新地 捱到斷氣
New heaven and earth, endure till suffocated
不退燒 便勝利
Don't stop the fever, that's victory

前傳 從前像詩傷悲 來年像歌哼起
The prequel. The past was sorrowful like a poem; next year will hum like a song
餘生 猶如盤未捉的棋 很多轉機
The rest of my life. Like a game of chess that has yet been played, there are a lot of possibilities

揮揮手 告別這字頭
Wave the hands and farewell this number
今天起 快樂我自求
From today on, I seek happiness myself
將漆黑當做發放煙花前奏
Let darkness be the prelude to the fireworks
寫首歌 慶賀轉字頭
Write a song to celebrate turning to the next number
這雙手 決定以後不發抖
These hands decide not to tremble in future
捧著結他救地球
Hold the guitar and save the world

揮揮手 告別這字頭
Wave the hands and farewell this number
好不好 印象我亦留
Good or bad, I make an impression
很多的 禮物儲夠傷疤才有
Many gifts require collecting enough scars to obtain
今天起 創造我字頭
From today on, I create my own prefix
很感激 背後五六七八九
Very grateful to the 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 [that will be] on [my] back
推動我飛上月球
Propelling me to fly to the moon

Not Far Enough

Not Far Enough (link to MV on YouTube) was a Mandarin song from 2016. She won the Best Musical Arrangement for this song at the Taiwan Golden Melody Award, where she came out as lesbian in the award ceremony and announced that she was married to her Taiwanese cinematographer wife. This song demonstrated her ambition in music and life in general.

還不夠遠 Not Far Enough

music and lyrics by Ellen Loo

知道跟真的了解有一段距離
There's a distance between knowing and really understanding
但也不遠
But these are not far apart
放棄跟真的不捨都有點迷離
Giving up and really reluctant to let go are a bit blurry
好比荒野 閉上雙眼
It's like the wilderness. Close the eyes

陸陸續續在眼前出現的迷戀
The infatuation that appears one after another
是場泡影
It's a bubble
掀起了一場風暴後你的心眼
After whipping up a storm [I see] the eyes of your heart
需要睡眠
[I] need to sleep
不要張開雙眼才發現
[I] don't need to open the eyes to discover

我們看見的宇宙是個平面
The universe that we see is a flat surface
哀傷的反面是快樂
The reverse of sadness is happiness
還有另外一個存在的畫面
There exists another picture
背著自己冒險 是我要的情節
Adventure on my own, this is the plot that I want
只管去冒險 看我越走越遠
Just go on an adventure. Watch me go further and further

曖昧跟真的相戀有一段距離
There is a distance between ambiguity and true love
但沒有界線
But there's no boundary

Light & Outside the Light

Light (in Cantonese) and Outside the Light (in Mandarin) were written from her wife's and her own perspectives respectively. These songs were supposed to be released in mid-2018, but few days before they were due, she jumped off from the roof of her apartment building while her wife was working in Mainland China on a movie set. She did not leave a suicide note. She was 32.

The tragic news shocked everyone, especially it was widely thought that she had recovered from her depression and had been an ambassador in advocating mental health awareness. These were the last MV she starred in, and these remain my favourite songs ever (not "one of"). I hope you like these too.

Light

music by Ellen Loo, lyrics by Wallace Kwok

拍一張新的照片
Take a new photo
而照片中你那樣憤怒
And you're so angry in the picture
眼神疲倦帶憂傷
Tired eyes with sadness

小小的一雙耳朵
Little pair of ears
能聽得到那血脈震動
[I] can hear the blood vessels vibrating
有時寧靜似深海
Sometimes quiet like the deep sea
無浪有風 狂亂也洶湧
No waves but with wind, frantic and turbulent

伸手膜拜著你的側臉
Reach out and worship your profile
瞳孔已閉著但看得見
Pupils closed but visible
靈魂彷彿出了竅
The soul seems to be out of the body
眉梢與眼眸留待發現
Eyebrows and eyes are left to be discovered

很想能進入你的宮殿
Would love to enter your palace
讓黑暗角度射進光線
Let light enter the dark corner
來尋呼吸的勇氣
To find the courage to breathe
來一起找到存在意義
Come and find the meaning of existence together
如流星都閃過了
If a shooting star passes by
摘一夥給你去做冠冕
Catch one to be your crown

寫一首新的老歌
Write a new old song
記憶中你那樣脆弱
In [my] memory you are so fragile
聰明狂熱也顛簸
Smart, fanatical and unstable

我不懂哼一闕歌
I don't know how to hum a song
但我總可以愛著你吧
But I can always love you
要求其實也不多
This is not too much to ask
從妳髮端 平復你心魔
Starting from the tip of your hair to calm your inner demons

伸手膜拜著你的側臉
Reach out and worship your profile
瞳孔已閉著但看得見
Pupils closed but visible
靈魂彷彿出了竅
The soul seems to be out of the body
眉梢與眼眸留待發現
Eyebrows and eyes are left to be discovered

如漆黑天際看到閃電
Like seeing lightning in the dark sky
如走散了亦覓到光線
If we stray off course, we will find the light
如能走得到最尾
If we can get to the end
就一起走進明日裡面
Let's walk into tomorrow together

很想能進入你的宮殿
Would love to enter your palace
讓黑暗角度射進光線
Let light enter the dark corner
來尋呼吸的勇氣
To find the courage to breathe
來一起找到存在意義
Come and find the meaning of existence together

宇宙即使消散了
Even if the universe dissipates
來一起與你化做光線
[I'll] turn into light together with you

光之外 Outside the Light

music & lyrics by Ellen Loo

沒有人在看着我
No one is looking at me
可為甚麼我總是覺得
But why do I always feel that
自己犯着許多錯
I made many mistakes?

房間有很多個我
There are many me in the room
可為甚麼我總是覺得
But why do I always feel that
自己孤伶伶一個
I'm all alone?
來來去去 需要的很多
Come and go, [I] need a lot

幸福就在不遠處那邊
Happiness is not far away
我閉上眼睛都看得見
I can see it with my eyes closed
天空帶着多少雲
How many clouds in the sky?
你會不會又一次出現
Will you show up once again?

幸福就在不遠處那邊
Happiness is not far away
把黑夜關上後能遇見
[I] can meet you after closing the dark night
我們再也不用怕
We don't have to be afraid anymore that
心血被時間反覆拉扯
[Our] painstaking effort be repeatedly pulled by time
我們再也不用怕
We don't have to be afraid anymore
看風的節奏慢慢呈現
Watch the rhythm of the wind slowly appear

沒有人在看着我
No one is looking at me
可為甚麼我總是覺得
But why do I always feel that
自己犯着許多錯
I made many mistakes?

房間有很多個我
There are many me in the room
可為甚麼我總是覺得
But why do I always feel that
自己孤伶伶一個
I'm all alone?
來來去去 需要的很多
Come and go, [I] need a lot

幸福就在不遠處那邊
Happiness is not far away
我閉上眼睛都看得見
I can see it with my eyes closed
天空帶着多少雲
How many clouds in the sky?
你會不會又一次出現
Will you show up once again?

我一個站在遠處那邊
I stand alone in the distance
守候着漸漸變黑的夜
Waiting for the darkening night
若我還是不回來
If I still don't come back
就把我靈魂交給世界
Then give my soul to the world

幸福就在不遠處那邊
Happiness is not far away
把黑夜關上後能遇見
[I] can meet you after closing the dark night
我們再也不用怕
We don't have to be afraid anymore that
心血被時間反覆拉扯
[Our] painstaking effort be repeatedly pulled by time

我們再也不用怕
We don't have to be afraid anymore
看風的節奏慢慢呈現
Watch the rhythm of the wind slowly appear

Other songs

Again there are many other songs which I like very much, but I can't translate them all. Here are their links and brief intro:

Thanks for reading my blog. If you like her songs and want to find out more, check out her YouTube channel or Spotify.
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Level 42
Apr 12, 2022
I love how you add the translation and the original version saying like if I never did that before as well lol. It’s nice to learn the language although I don’t understand anything ;-;!
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Level 66
Apr 12, 2022
Thanks. Google Translate helps a lot :p

Lyrics, like poems, are always hard to translate. I'm doing my best...

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Level 42
Apr 12, 2022
We know you are! :)
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Level 54
Apr 13, 2022
Very nice blog, Cantopop is a genre I would have never checked out if it weren't for these blogs.
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Level 66
Apr 13, 2022
Thank you. Cantopop is not popular at all these days, as seen from the low view count in many YouTube MV. Even Mandarin speaking Chinese don't listen to Cantopop much. It is sad that most people in the world would only listen to music in English or in their own languages, when there are so many other choices out there and music is so easily accessible these days.