Comparisons a compliment
A quick comparison of Sun’s Fancy Free video with Lady Gaga’s, such as Poker Face, showed many similarities, from the choreographed dance pieces (both involving cavorting male dancers), to the numerous costume changes.
True to Gaga-form, Sun wore four different sets of outfit in Fancy Free, two of which look extremely Gaga-like – a slinky, black body-hugging piece and another with elaborate, exaggerated headgear.
In an e-mail interview with The New Paper, Sun acknowledged the comparison to the pop star, but stood by the originality of Fancy Free, calling it a “truly unique video”.
She said: “It’s pretty typical to compare someone to a person who is now at the focal point of attention in pop culture.
“I love Gaga and how she remains true to herself and her artistry, so comparing me with her is a compliment.”
However, she said she is confident that she, her management and Joseph Kahn, the director of the Fancy Free video, “did not dedicate so much effort merely to move in that direction”, meaning, to make the video a Gaga replica.
Kahn’s credits include Britney Spears’ Toxic, Gwen Stefani’s The Sweet Escape and U2’s Elevation. “I feel proud of our mutual artistic vision and the hard work we’ve put in,” said Sun, who is married to the Reverend Kong Hee, founder of City Harvest Church.
Sun entered the US entertainment scene in 2003 with her first dance hit Where Did Love Go, produced by veteran songwriter-producers David Foster and Peter Rafelson, who have written songs for the likes of Madonna, Elton John and The Corrs.
She followed it up with four back-to-back dance singles, all of which hit the top of the Billboard Dance Club Charts and the UK’s Music Week Dance Charts. Sun has also released five multi platinum-selling Mandarin albums in Asia.
She elaborated on the meaning of Fancy Free in a video web chat conducted on Facebook with fans from around the world.
During the webchat, she called Fancy Free a representation of her “life philosophy”.
She added: “It’s (the song) about loving your life and dreams. I believe that great dreams can be accomplished by ordinary people like you and me.”
Fancy Free is now available for purchase on iTunes in the US and will also be included in Sun’s upcoming English studio album Cause A Ruckus.
Slated to be released at the end of this year, the collection of pop-dance anthems is co-produced by Grammy-winning producers Danja and Rodney Jerkins.
The webchat drew 7,000 views in all, including participants from countries such as Indonesia, Taiwan and even Uganda.
Most of the questions were about Sun’s new music, as well as her life in the US. However, it did raise some eyebrows.
First, there was the low-cut tank top – with a denim vest over it – which Sun wore during the chat, exposing her cleavage.
Local undergraduate Chen Qi Ye, 24, who caught screengrabs of her web chat, felt Sun’s outfit was “very risque”.
But Mr Chen conceded that Sun has the right to “flaunt her assets, as part of her pursuit of stardom in the entertainment industry”.
Netizens on lifestyle portal Trevvy.com also slammed Sun for putting on a “fake American twang” during her webchat.
From our observations of the webchat, Sun did not appear to fake an accent during the chat.
But at one point, she was asked what was the hardest part about doing music in the US, and Sun said it was “having to pick up an American accent, so as to be understood”.
Madam Zheng Min Hua, 58, who is in the education sector, felt uncomfortable by that particular comment.
“I feel that so long as Singaporeans do not use Singlish, our English and Chinese will be understood overseas,” she said.
“It’s the same as Singaporeans living in say, Beijing, in China. I’m sure they don’t have to put on a thick Beijing accent, it’s so fake.”
In our e-mail interview, Sun clarified her comment and said that the American accent she had to pick up was in reference to “recording her album tracks”.
“There are words, street slang and jargon used here that are totally unfamiliar to me,” she said.
“I’m doing a crossover to the US music scene after all, and I need the American audience to be able to connect with me within the four minutes of each song.”
She explained that it was the same situation she faced in Taiwan years ago.
“I remember when I started singing Mandarin pop songs in Asia, I had to have a Taiwanese mentor help me through the recording process, to correct the nuances in my pronunciation.”
As for her low-cut tank top, she brushed the negative comments away, retorting that “it’s the first time I’ve heard of it (her attire) being overly sexy”.
At the 2006 Global Music Awards held in Singapore, she had been criticised for turning up in a short grey-black dress (with black stockings and black boots) that barely covered her buttocks.
Earlier, in November 2003, Sun had worn a daring red Armani gown – with a plunging neckline – to the Hollywood Film Festival in Los Angeles.
This article was first published in The New Paper.