When someone describes a CD as Chinese music, the question becomes: what kind of Chinese music? Instrumental or with vocals? Traditional Chinese music, or modern Chinese pop? Of course, modern Chinese pop is far from one-dimensional; some of it is very bubblegum, and some of it is a lot meatier and much more substantial. Alive is definitely an example of Chinese pop that has substance, not to mention a sense of adventure. In some cases, Chinese pop sounds a lot like American pop except for the fact that it is performed in Chinese; if Hilary Duff and Jessica Simpson sang in Chinese, they would be perfect for the more bubblegum, Radio Disney-ish side of the Chinese pop scene. But Alive is nothing like that. This is modern Chinese pop that gets a lot of inspiration from traditional Chinese music (including Buddhist music), and female singer Sa Dingding also draws on non-Chinese influences such as funk and electronica (including trip-hop). This 2008 release is a perfect example of the east merging with the west musically, but again, Alive isn't trying to be American pop (or British pop) with Chinese lyrics; Dingding is obviously well aware of the rich history of traditional Chinese music, and that influence serves her well even though she isn't a traditional singer herself. This memorable outing makes it clear that the expressive Dingding is both a risk-taker and an artist of depth.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson