Category Archives: Book Playlist

Book Playlist: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

genie lo cover

Okay, so this is my second book playlist (the first being for Want by Cindy Pon), and I’m happy to introduce y’all to these songs that I feel represent some aspect of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee. It was hard to find songs with the themes/feelings I needed, but I definitely got the perfect “theme song” for Genie. Below is the track list (song titles link to YouTube) along with translations where appropriate and commentary. Enjoy!

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo album tracks

1. 終極三國 – 曾沛慈+東城衛 (K.O.3anGuo – Pets Tseng+Dong Cheng Wei)

(3anGuo=SanGuo=Three Kingdoms from Chinese history)

This has exactly the right feel for The Epic Crush of Genie Lo. It’s the theme song for a Taiwanese drama where students face down supernatural forces. The following lyrics (translated by me) were perfect for Genie:

Until the final moment, I refuse to back down
Even if the battle rages for days, hope is still in sight

Until the final moment, I refuse to back down
Even tears scattering can’t blur my vision

Sinister forces are clamoring, hunting me down to provoke me into duels
My battle prowess soars – don’t think you can escape

After I shed my uniform jacket, I’ll let you make ten moves first
[Otherwise] I’m afraid you’ll be laughed at – KO’d in one punch

2. Destiny – Infinite

I chose this song by my favorite kpop band Infinite to represent Quentin’s feelings toward Genie, specifically (spoiler alert, highlight text to read) his feelings as the Monkey King losing his beloved Ruyi Jingubang. (end spoiler) Lyrics of note (translation credit: pop!gasa):

Don’t leave, don’t turn around, I can’t let you go like this
Even if you leave me like this, you can’t escape me
Cause you are my destiny
Don’t turn around and leave me, don’t brush me off, don’t avoid me
You are my destiny

3. Run Around – Jasan Radford

90s throwback, anyone? (God, I’m old.) This song is from the English dub of Digimon 02, and I chose it for the frenetic feelings it invokes. It’s a song that goes well with Genie and Quentin’s scramble to fight demons all over the Bay Area. The lyrics are self-explanatory and can be found in the description of the YouTube video linked. ^o^

4. 天下大亂 – 蘇慧倫 (Chaos – Tarcy Su)

This song is the opening theme to the Taiwanese drama adaptation of Mulan from 1999 featuring Anita Yuen as Mulan (one of my favorite Mulan adaptations tbh). The title is an idiom that literally means “big mess under the heavens,” so I took artistic liberty and translated it as “Chaos.” The theme of the song is of a woman taking control of a messy situation, thus making it perfect for Genie. Lyrics of note (translated by me):

The Heavens can’t fix it
My fate is mine to settle

The Heavens are broken, the world is broken
Everything, everywhere is unhinged

5. Borders – Amber Liu

This last song is by Amber Liu, a Taiwanese American who’s a part of the popular kpop girl group f(x). She wrote it from a very personal place, and the theme is about breaking free of expectations and standards that hold us back, whether it’s the policing of gender expression (Amber is known for rocking an androgynous look in an industry where female idols are supposed to be ultra-feminine), stereotypes, or stigmas. I thought it was an appropriate song for Genie since she struggles to feel like she’s any good when faced with the dehumanizing experience of applying to competitive top colleges where you are measured against a checklist of traits and accomplishments. The chorus is a good message to keep in your heart during these tough times:

’Cause mom said I’d be crossing borders
Never be afraid even when you’re cornered
Stand up straight, fight your way
Fight your way, fight your way

Book Playlist: Want by Cindy Pon

WANT

So this is my first time attempting to put together a playlist of songs to complement a book. Not surprisingly, I chose Cindy Pon’s Want as the inaugural title for my playlist experiments. Most of the music I listen to is in either Mandarin Chinese or Korean, so I ended up with a combination of mandopop and kpop. These songs span quite a few years in terms of release date, so hopefully for those who aren’t familiar with the genres, it will make a brief introduction to some East Asian pop music (plus some #cuteasianboys!).

WANT Track List

Note: I can’t embed videos on WP, so you’ll have to click the links to go to YouTube and listen to the songs.

風雲變色 – KOne+5566

The song title literally means “Wind and clouds change color,” and it’s an idiom for a changing, volatile situation. This song is the theme song for Top of the Forbidden City, a very old Taiwanese idol drama from 2004 full of tacky dance battles (performed by the artists of this song, both Taiwanese boy bands from the same label who starred in the drama). I chose the song because it represents the high-stakes, tense atmosphere of Want and the complex, shifting feelings that Zhou experiences as he infiltrates the ranks of his sworn enemies.

Lyrics of note (translated by me, please do not repost or claim as yours):

Each era has a new legend/I have already changed history
Bearing whatever divine mission/Consigned to whatever capricious fate
Perhaps you and I have nearly forgotten/How to prove the truth
In the lightning and flame, I can’t make out your silhouette
What should I do to win this battle?

Is my courage heavy enough?/Determined to ruthlessly decimate the enemy
Are you an enemy or a friend?/The winds keep changing
Yin and yang are about to fuse/The universe is watching me
I’m standing at the top of the forbidden city/Searching for an escape

Bad – Infinite

This song is from a 2015 album by my favorite kpop group, Infinite. The lyrics tell the story of a guy who falls for a girl who is ostensibly bad for him, yet alluring all the same. There’s a sensual tension conveyed by the song that I felt was perfect for Zhou and Daiyu. Also, the line “betting on you” maps onto the story in Want so well, in a very literal way, as Daiyu is the key to success for Zhou’s mission.

Lyrics of note (translation credit: popgasa)

You come to me like you have me,
you wrap around me
Then you disappear like a dream
With no time to touch, I’m captivated by you

I’m afraid that I’m being ruined by you
Though you’ll shake me up and turn around

Betting on you
I’m betting on you
Betting on you
I can’t just let you go like this
Whenever I see you, you’re such an unfamiliar girl
You always make me so nervous

迷魂計 – 183 Club

183 Club is yet another Taiwanese boy band, also under the same company as KOne and 5566. This song was the opening theme for the Taiwanese idol drama, The Prince Who Turns Into a Frog from 2005. The English name for this song is “Enticing Trick.” It’s a less serious song than the others and expresses the feeling of falling for someone that you shouldn’t because you can’t help but be charmed by them.

Lyrics of note (translated by me, don’t steal, thanks):

Hurry and wake up/There are no miracles on this earth
Hurry and see clearly/Don’t fall for her enticing trick

It’s already determined by Fate/I’m just too hopelessly smitten
I love your courage/More steady than anyone
It’s already determined by Fate/Don’t disbelieve it
A few words from you/Become my scriptures
Your importance to me/No one can replace it

One Shot – B.A.P.

Another kpop song, this one from 2013. Although the lyrics are actually referring to a different context/situation, the focus on there being “one shot” to determine your future, plus the dramatic orchestral instrumentation and dark tone to the song, felt perfect for Want and Zhou’s mission that everything hinges on.

Lyrics of note (translation credit: popgasa)

I can’t step back
On this endless path
Woo woo woo, don’t be shaken
I can’t trap myself
In this time of confusion
Woo woo woo, there’s only one chance

Only one shot only one shot
Bite down hard and go against them, one shot
Only one shot only one shot
Throw yourself at the world, one shot
Only one shot only one shot
You only have one chance, you know?

西界 – 林俊傑 (JJ Lin)

For those who don’t know, JJ Lin is a Singaporean Chinese singer-songwriter who’s active in Taiwan. Released in 2007, this song  has the English title “West Side.” The main theme of the song is living in a different world than the person you love, and it’s symbolized by two places that are opposite as day and night. The speaker of the lyrics is trapped in the dark and reaching toward the light. This felt like an apt way to characterize the stark class divide between Zhou and Daiyu.

Lyrics of note (translation by me, please do not repost/claim as yours):

I can only look toward the east side/Your world is too distant
Enduring until the limits of my imagination/A happiness so sweet
But the night has already consumed me/I just can’t reach your hand