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  • Lauren DiGiovanni

Review: "Cynical" - Emei

Emei’s “Cynical” pushes the boundaries of pop with daring sounds and a unique finesse and flair. The third single released to promote her sophomore EP “Cynical”, the title track is a creative yet innovative embrace of chaos. The song delves into self-destruction and finding comfort in stressful situations. In the first verse, Emei talks about how good she is on her own: she’s making good decisions, doing good things, and overall feeling great. But then, just as she is at peace, she gets bored. Then in the chorus, she asks herself why she loves the chaos and “why [does she] feel at peace when it's difficult?” Following the chorus, Emei talks about an unfortunate series of events, and she questions “what the hell [she’s] doin’.” As the song ends, the sound completely shifts and takes a more somber tone. As she sings “I'm unhappy ever after/and destined for disaster”, the song chaotically rewinds and ends with Emei whispering “cynical.” The music video, directed by Aser Santos Jr., perfectly pairs with “Cynical, and is quite the visual epic.” The video features psychedelic rooms, intriguing camera angles, and cuts to a rave for each chorus.

“Cynical” is defined by dark, alternative pop with a heavy grungy and gritty feel. The intro melody with “la-la-la” sounds haunting and almost circus-like, which is repeated multiple times after every chorus. In the verses, the instrumentation is thinner while the chorus has a more dense and fuller production. At the final word of every phrase, Emei takes the melodic line up an octave, creating a sing-song feel to contrast the heavier chorus. The interlude after the chorus features the intro melody and a whispered “cynical.” The vast contrast in sound and style creates an emphasis on the word “cynical.” Throughout the entire track, there’s a driving bass synth along with eclectic sounds to complement, such as a tongue-clicking sound. At the end of the song, the production takes a step back, with a lighter and more somber sound. The rewind at the end is shocking to the listener, but it encompasses the overall feel of “Cynical.”

Emei is a viral Chinese-American alternative pop singer and songwriter. Emei, who is only 23 years old, has already achieved great success. With almost 12 million likes on TikTok and over 1 million listeners on Spotify, Emei is charting her own path with her music. She competed on Chinese Idol at 15 and has over a decade of stage experience under her belt. Emei amassed great success on Chinese music platforms and even competed in Dancing with the Stars in China. In terms of American music releases, Emei has been making and releasing singles since 2021 with her debut single “Distracted.” Since then, she has released 10 singles on American music platforms and an EP titled “End of an Era” in 2022. Her first two singles released in 2023, “Irresponsible” and “Scatterbrain” have garnered over 16 million streams on Spotify alone. Most recently, Emei sold out a performance in London on July 21 of this year. Ahead of the release of her sophomore EP "Cynical", Emei is set to release two more singles and will go on her first headline tour for the EP later this year.

Written By Lauren DiGiovanni



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