By Jocelle Koh
You know that feeling when you first enter a dark room and feel yourself drenched in pitch darkness? Then slowly your eyes adjust and things take on a new perspective?
That’s exactly what R&B darling Diana Wang 王詩安’s latest song “Make You Feel” feels like, as it takes us on a boundary-breaking sonic journey that peels back even more layers to the talented songwriter’s artistry.
It’s been two years since the singer-songwriter’s last release, and while we were brimming over with excitement when Diana announced her latest single, all we knew was to expect the unexpected. Like a cat with nine lives, Wang has been known to keep us on our toes; constantly reinventing her sound and beckoning us with her enchanting voice to keep up.
At 4 minutes 45 seconds, ‘Make You Feel’ would be considered a long song by modern ‘streaming-friendly’ standards, but the further you dig into the song the more you realise that this song was not created to fit into the easily definable structures of popular R&B.
One of Wang’s most daring experimentations yet, the song’s nine distinct parts put it worlds away from your average ‘ABABCB (verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus)’ song structure.
Delving straight in with a verse as cool and limpid as light bouncing off the waters’ edge, the track opens with a selection of serene, ebbing beats that recede as fast as they rise against warm, sweet vocals waxing lyrical about the feeling of two lovers in nature.
A comforting moment which reminds us of the Diana we know and love, this is quickly replaced with staccato textured beats which invade our senses backed by a myriad of backing vocals as we enter a pre-chorus-like section. At first I was unsure how I felt about this progression. But after a few listens, I’m declaring it a gutsy, unconventional move that grabs the song and the listeners’ ears by the balls, nudging them along as the song quickens in pace, just like two heartbeats in sync.
Things start heating up in what seems to be a second pre-chorus section where Wang throws us off the trail once again with some sassy syncopation: “Come with me do it like this/continuous footprints pairing off 連綿的腳印 成雙成對” before leading up to one of her signature vocal runs.
With barely a moment of rest and buoyed by standalone beats, Wang whispers sultrily ‘Free to do as we please 自由自在/and I’m feeling so right/Jumping into the blue ocean跳進 蔚藍的海/ and I’m feeling so right‘ before launching finally into the earworm-y chorus we’ve all been waiting for. Bringing out the backing vocals full force as Diana sings variations of “make you feel love” over and over, I love how their airy quality mixes with the over-the-top snare sounds to create this ‘90s psychedelic R&B vibe.
Clearly a masterclass in songwriting, the fun doesn’t stop here. After rinsing and repeating with some artful variations in the lyrics (my favourite part is a cheeky but mindful reminder to save the earth “Why not tan a little何妨曬成褐色/Remember to take your rubbish with you 記得帶走垃圾”), the song seems to become less structured and more improvisational. It’s kind of like, an extended outro in four unique parts.
The song enters a lull right after the chorus ends like a moment of meditation before slowly but surely picking up and coming back even larger than the chorus, interweaving bits and bobs of the chorus and Diana’s vocal improvisations throughout. My favourite part was when Wang launched into uncharacteristically hip-hop-esque spoken word, singing “Tonight is the night, I gon’ make you feel in love (real love)” in the second last part of the song, bringing a new energy and surprising us even when the song was seemingly near its end.
And even more fun was the ‘real’ outro that came after an extended and intentional pause leading listeners to think the song was over. T-minus 40 or so seconds from the end of the track, Wang’s delicate vocals take to the stage one last time, improvising her heart out with melisma and all as the curtain falls for the last time.
While the song’s lyrics at face level are about a pair of lovers, I think the most interesting thing about the track is how intentionally it has been crafted to ‘make you feel’ different emotions at every single point of the song. From moonlit walks to heart-racing moments, this song is a rollercoaster of emotions and an eclectic but artful presentation of Wang’s songwriting and vocal prowess.
Although I’m unsure if this song is everyone’s cup of tea (in part due to the complexity and in part due to people’s short attention spans), for me at least, it was well worth the wait. I’m feeling the love!