THE DARK SIDE OF HONG KONG NIGHT LIFE 1

There are “lounge singers” and there are lounge singers, and, in between, there are those who only sing or play at “functions”, and as backup players for mostly Canto-Pop has-beens. This musical operandi has been allowed to continue in Hong Kong for decades simply because this is the way it’s been for decades and no one has had the courage of their convictions to call on the Fat Lady to bring the curtain down.

MAKING THE LOUNGE SINGER ABOUT MUSIC AGAIN 1

Does this regurgitating of everything that’s come before help get anything and anyone far? Not really. It’s just that every year, the usual suspects who skip the light fandango get older with there being no one around to guide them- not that this would be a pleasant task when one stops and thinks of the massive egos involved in what is a piddly and inconsequential music scene where that young kid heard almost three decades ago has not progressed one iota. He’s still the next Elvis. Dear god, please. Elvis left the building gagging on a cheeseburger with Mama Cass holding onto her Club Sandwich.

MAKING THE LOUNGE SINGER ABOUT MUSIC AGAIN 2

Go to one of those tedious “nostalgia shows” at a venue like Grappas, or the newly formed restaurants and clubs that have been opened in places like Nathan Road, where the laundry is there for all to see, and what you get are the sights and sounds of some of Hong Kong’s most famous names, mostly from the Sixties, grasping at one last straw to find an audience ancient enough to drown in a sea of memories without looking around and seeing that life has passed them up. It’s as cringeworthy as attending a concert by Air Supply and Denmark’s Michael Learns To Rock who even Danes think died years ago.

MAKING THE LOUNGE SINGER ABOUT MUSIC AGAIN 2b

This is what makes Avis Ellis, the current resident singer at the Champagne Bar at the Grand Hyatt- and she’s done the Hong Kong hotel lounge circuit- so damn wasted.

MAKING THE LOUNGE SINGER ABOUT MUSIC AGAIN 3

This lady can sing- really sing- and leaves many of the rest of the MOR and Adult Contemporary performers in Hong Kong for dead. Avis Ellis deserves a better venue than the Champagne Bar for the simple reason that she’s often performing to a smattering of people. She deserves better- far better.

MAKING THE LOUNGE SINGER ABOUT MUSIC AGAIN 4

As a proud Black woman, she’s far removed from the often self-entitlement of third rate (white) lounge singers booked into the five-star lounges in Hong Kong’s five star hotels charging six and seven star prices for some ordinaire Chardonnay, and where naive hoteliers have lost the plot. Do some of these delusional people really believe that customers frequent these lounges to listen to what is Muzak? It’s just a quick stopover before the night really begins, or desperation time when there’s nothing happening anywhere and one returns hoping to squire a lady for the night without resorting to the tackiness of Wanchai.

MAKING THE LOUNGE SINGER ABOUT MUSIC AGAIN 5

Have these hoteliers- and those singers who take umbrage at being labeled “lounge singers” realise that Norah Jones started off as a waitress in a bar who sang the occasional set there before a demo cassette of her songs ended up with Blue Note Records? Doubt it.

MAKING THE LOUNGE SINGER ABOUT MUSIC AGAIN 6

To all you hoteliers, think about this: If your lounges had some truly original performers, wouldn’t you think that some of us who easily pay over $3,000 for a few drinks and some snacks would stay on for the evening instead of leaving before the amateurs come out to play? Can’t you think out of the box? The image of the “lounge singer” seems to have changed everywhere except for Hong Kong. Music is music and “mature” doesn’t make any singer more sophisticated or accepted.

Many of us have travelled the world. We know what is “good music”. We know those who can take an old song and make it better and uncover a different take on a cover song. Think of your return on investment. Why put up with mediocrity when there can be a few extra grand to the tab?

MAKING THE LOUNGE SINGER ABOUT MUSIC AGAIN 7

Avis Ellis is far more than being “just another lounge singer”. The Grand Hyatt will never understand this as the once hugely popular hotel has become Le Rue Morgue with only its functions in the Grand Ballroom keeping things afloat.

MAKING THE LOUNGE SINGER ABOUT MUSIC AGAIN 8

Bottom line: Avis Ellis deserves better. Like an audience. And a terrific backing band to bring out her best. Don’t like what I have written? Think I care? I only care about Avis Ellis getting her just rewards for paying her dues by giving her all, often to an audience where one can see way too many dead people.

MAKING THE LOUNGE SINGER ABOUT MUSIC AGAIN 9