Why Ashin really is “Ok-la”

Wow. We’ve come a long way, baby. Today the 23rd Annual Golden Melody Awards held their award ceremony. And Mayday won six of seven awards for which it was nominated. Six of seven. They won: Best Arrangement, Best Band, Best Composer, Best Producing, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year.

Before today, Mayday has been on the Mandopop scene for 13 years, but has never gotten a GMA award for anything other than best band. Basically, their popularity, but not their musicality, is all that has ever been honored. Now, if Cowboy Jay has taught us absolutely nothing else over the years, he has taught us that getting a GMA award for a particular song or project isn’t exactly confirmation that what you’ve put out there was the absolute best bit of music you’ve ever produced or that was available in the last year. I still think Mayday’s best album EVER was Time Machine. And I love “Noah’s Ark,” but… I have songs of theirs that I like better. Sometimes, it seems like the awards hold out on you for a long time, then finally step up and say, “Yeah. We recognize you. And you’re good.” That’s what this was, I think – it was like 13 years of awards all granted in a single night, and in that sense these awards were very, very well earned. (Plus Cowboy Jay was shut out. Always a good night when that happens.)

The one dark spot was that Ashin didn’t win best lyrics. And, kind of, that Masa did win best composer. You know, I’m thrilled for Masa, really, but I think he got incredibly lucky. After writing only a handful of deeply mediocre songs, he got nominated on his one contribution the one year the band came due in the eyes of the GMA judges. For Ashin, having composed the first four albums solo, being still solely responsible for lyrics, and writing at least half the songs on every album thereafter, this has got to hurt a little bit. Twice during the ceremony he laughingly told the audience to stop trying to comfort him – he’s great. I’m not quite buying it. I know I would have preferred that Ashin win and Masa not, but… who am I to question the wisdom of the GMA judges? Oh wait – I do that every year. Never mind, Ashin was robbed!

Except that he wasn’t, really. The lion’s share of all six of these prizes – yes, including Masa’s – belongs to Ashin. There wouldn’t be a Mayday without the breakthrough albums, and that’s all Ashin. And I do suspect that I’m not the only person who is a Mayday fan first and foremost for Ashin’s lyrics – hey, I even have a website devoted to them! I gladly pay my annual hosting fees each and every year for the sheer pleasure I get out of playing with his language, trying to move it back and forth between Chinese and English. Without Ashin’s “rock poetry,” Masa’s “Noah’s Ark” would never have been noticed.

Like just about everyone else I’ve “met” online or in person along the course of my own decade as a Mayday fangirl, my enthusiasm for the band ebbs and flows with the tides. I listen to a lot more sodagreen these days, or Tizzy bac; I’m obsessed with Carrie Elkin’s gorgeous last album, and in the car I pretty much only listen to NPR news. The time I once had for Mayday – for translating, for listening, or giggling over a Youtube video – gets taken up by more and more complicated things as I age alongside the band. I am, of course, still translating Second Round (even if it feels like I’ve abandoned it), I just have to squeeze it into increasingly busy days, and it’s slow going. But I spent a morning following along with the awards while I worked on other things – a paper under a tight deadline, emails to answer, housework to do, commitments to fulfill – and I knew that no matter how much attention I’m paying from day to day, month to month, I’m always going to be a Mayday fan.

So they can bask in this victory tonight, eat their bananas, and feel pretty good about the world. Then tomorrow, start planning that tour to the U.S., okay?

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25 Responses to Why Ashin really is “Ok-la”

  1. Ronny says:

    Their album’s official name should be Second Round. I’m looking forward to see your translations.

    Everyone is talking about the speech Ashin said that Second Round is their 3rd to last album. Everyone worried that they will retire after the 10th album and got really upset about it.

  2. Merry says:

    Whoops – I just went ahead and fixed it. I knew that, I just keep forgetting….

    At the rate they’re going now, it’ll be at least 5-6 years before they get to number 10, at which point who knows what they’ll be thinking?

  3. Steve says:

    Wonderful tribute, Merry! I think you’ve summed up a lot of fans’ feelings. I didn’t realize they’d only won Best Band until now.

    But is it true that Ashin composed the first four albums by himself? Didn’t Monster compose “Nine Ball”?

  4. Merry says:

    Hah – it is true. I was going to add a footnote to that effect, but I decided I was letting the historian instincts get the better of me, because with that one exception the first four were all Ashin. After that is when the real diversification started.

    I should have known Mayday fans would want that historian’s precision, though. 😛

  5. ZhengX says:

    I have to agree with you that Mayday deserved most of the awards after so many years, but I really hoped for more nominations for sodagreen. Tough luck I guess. Haha :)

  6. Alice says:

    I have the exact feeling. Ashin deserves a GMA Best Lyrics. But somehow, from what I know, which may be wrong, the Best Lyrics is always awarded to “the veterans”. But then again, Ashin does not need that trophy to prove he’s a very good lyricist~~

  7. trinh says:

    They so well deserve all the awards. I also feel Ashin got robbed too. Can some1 tell me why they eating banana? what the meaning behind it?

  8. Jessica says:

    They are comng to Australia in August (^_^) so perhaps th US is the next stop? Fingers crossed….

  9. Merry says:

    ZhengX – funny you should mention that, I have a whole theory on why Mayday needed to win these and why it’s okay that sodagreen didn’t get a lot of nominations. (I bought both albums at the same time and, I confess, listen to sodagreen more.) There will be A Post. 😛

  10. ZhengX says:

    Looking forward to reading your post then! Looking forward to your translations of Ashin’s rock poetry too :)

  11. Aries says:

    As a Mayday fans, I believe it’s a duty and great interest to follow and support Mayday. Even if that could be very tiresome and time comsumming, so I really understand your situation. I live in SoCal. I got home from a long road trip, just about 2 hours before GMA, extremely tire, but I stayed up to watch GMA live and to cheer for Mayday, till 10 the next morning. I was so thrilled everytime their names were called. Now that Mayday has won most of the big awards, the next targets are best lyricist for Ashin and Lifetime Contribution for the band. I truly believe that they deserve its, because I can’t imagine mandarine music without Mayday. XD~

  12. NFAH says:

    Hooray for Carrie Elkin getting a mention!

  13. Mylene says:

    I love this post. My husband was asking me over dinner two nights ago – who are my favourite vocalists. I said cheer chen, crowd lu and ashin of course! Then he said “you seriously think ashin sings better than crowd?” that was when I told him that ashin has a trump card over anyone, he will be tops in whatever aspect (even if it seems like there are better musicians) just because.” yes, i’m a proud fangirl & will be loving his lyrics forever!

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