I visited the POD at level 16 of the National Library Building for the first time this afternoon. When I registered for this event after being informed by a Seniors’ Book Club two months ago, I did not realise that it’s a book launch for acclaimed Singapore lyricist Xiaohan’s new book. I only wanted to see Xiaohan in the flesh and listen to her talk (I had thought she was speaking in conjunction with the READ programme organised by NLB).
The event began with some videos (MTVs of songs by Tanya Chua, Fish Leong, Jolin Tsai, A-Mei, Gary Cao and many more regional Mandopop singers) being played and Xiao Han thanking the audience for spending Mother’s Day with her. She proceeded to recount how she started writing a column for Lianhe Wanbao in 2007, and soon got the idea of compiling some of her essays into a book. (Teardrops Are Capsules was published in 2011.) This was followed by a novel, Count Less Happiness in 2013. She has since published another book and helped her daughter to publish two books. The book launched today (Fortunately I’m Not A Girl With Full Marks) is like a diary about her life, with 18 chapters, on the topics of physical appearance, social life, academics, love, health, parents, dreams, giving up, career, kindness, hurt, weakness, being single, marriage, children, life, happiness and self.
The talk focuses on three aspects: her IQ (academics), EQ (which is improving as she works in the entertainment world) and Ah-Q (“life will be okay” – a philosophical look at life). Xiaohan is a really arresting speaker. There are also many interesting nuggets shared, like how she can balance a book on her head and walk up and down easily (which she proceeded to demonstrate), how she became popular with the mothers of her daughter (Ashley Koh)’s friends because she wrote the lyrics for Korean boyband EXO’s Mandarin hit (One Life), why male atheletes attract girls more easily (because of their body odour – and she proceeded to explain about Pheromone, PEA (Phenylethylamine), Norephedrine, Oxytocin and Endorphin in such a way that elicited many laughs), how numbers are used to measure health and why we should not believe someone who is 1.8m and weighs only 44kgs claiming to be in good health (backed up with a complete list of how much each of our organs weigh), how children are like kutu (like a leech/parasite), how she resigned from her job as a scientist (she has a PhD in virology from NUS) to be a lyricist, how she suffered from depression, how horrible a life celebrities have (eg, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Selina Gomez – complete with descriptions of what they do every day), how she tried to become a singer, first locally then in Taiwan, how porcupines are really afraid of pain, how the Sandy Lam hit (‘Paper Plane‘) is both her mum’s and Ashley’s favourite etc etc.
Interspersed in her talk are many excerpts of MVs from singers like A-lin, EXO, Tanya Chua, Rainie Yang and Jolin Tsai. She even recounted how one of her works was sent to Eason Chan who thought it was pretty good but dragged his feet recording it and how Tanya Chua took the song back and recorded it herself and it became an instant hit (‘Darwin’) and was nominated for Best Lyricist at Taiwan’s Golden Melody Award.
There is much more, but too lengthy to write here. Also, I can’t wait to start reading her earlier books, all of which I borrowed immediately after the launch. I hope by the time I finish reading them, her latest book would be on the shelf for loan too.