• Joel Dwek

TAIWAN: Heart Too Soft - Richie Jen

Updated: Jan 20

Enjoyably cheesy, Richie Jen shows off his prowess as a balladeer

Some albums take you by surprise, and to my shock, this album by Richie Jen, was one of those. Not because it was surprisingly brilliant or sublime – far from it (sorry, all you Richie Jen fans out there). It’s certainly good and competent. He has a nice voice, and the album has some nice ballads. The album is called 心太軟, which in English means ‘Heart Too Soft’ – at least, that’s what Wikipedia says, I haven’t the foggiest idea if that’s accurate or not – gives you a decent idea of what to expect from the album. Though I have no idea of what he’s actually singing in those songs, they’re probably soppy love songs, alongside some upbeat pop bangers. The third song on the album is partially in English, and it confirms what I’m saying. It basically sounds like a Cliff Richard ballad, though admittedly better than a Cliff ballad. And then, three quarters of the way through the album, there’s the surprise. An inclusion on the album so unusual I actually burst out laughing when listening to it for the first time. It also isn’t something that just I would find funny. No, it’s not a secret reference to the works of Werner Herzog or something esoteric like that. It is simply a cover of a song that really never needed a cover, and was totally unexpected. It would be like listening to a Donny Osmond album to find one track where he takes up Mongolian throat singing. Not necessarily bad, but you’d be taken aback.


“On the one hand, it was such a lovely and mad surprise that it single-handedly added a whole other layer of enjoyment to the album”

Here is what I have been battling with while writing this review. Do I have the right to reveal what the mystery song is for the uninitiated who have not experienced this gloriously weird song? Because, quite frankly, there’s not a whole lot to say about this album. You can probably tell I’m filling for time, and you’d be correct. The album is fine. It’s Taiwanese pop music, Jen is a balladeer and your enjoyment of the album will depend mostly on how much you like pop and pop ballads. And then, the song. This is effectively a music spoiler. On the one hand, it was such a lovely and mad surprise that it single-handedly added a whole other layer of enjoyment to the album. That said, I wouldn’t write a review of The Sixth Sense and tell everyone the twist at the end. But if I don’t talk about it, what else is there to say about the album. So, like any good negotiation, we’ll compromise so that no-one is happy. I will talk about the song, and if you don’t want to know what it is, then stop here. If you have heard the album, or simply don’t care and think I’m waffling on, then scroll down.

Still sure? Then proceed.

The mystery song is the Macarena. There. I’ve said it. This album contains a cover of the Macarena. Why? The song was perfectly fine in its original form – after all, it was basically just a stupid dance. I suppose people wanted to cash in on its phenomenal and bamboozling success, and this was a way to make some money by introducing a Taiwanese version to the Taiwan market. Even so, it was such a strange addition to the otherwise mellow and romantic album that I couldn’t help but laugh at the surprise. Looking back at it later, it does make some sense that it would eventually be translated all round the world, but I do maintain its presence on the album was bizarre, though paradoxically I liked the album all the more for it. Jen’s album is perfectly fine pop music, if not remarkable in any way. It’s worth a listen if you like easy listening music, and cover versions of 90s novelty pop songs.