[HOT TRACK]A Coco Full of Puff, Potential

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[HOT TRACK]A Coco Full of Puff, Potential

Open up the latest Coco Lee album, "Promise," and you'll find a thick insert with photos of the perfectly tanned siren - killer body, pink lip gloss and all. Lyrics? In Chinese).

But wait - there is a handwritten note (well, a reproduction of a handwritten note) from the U.S.-born pop star announcing that her album is "ready for the world."

If first impressions are paramount, one could easily dismiss Lee, 26, as an older Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera wannabe. But she is much more than that.

Lee writes, "In the past year, I've had the most unforgettable experiences, from touring with Ricky Martin to singing at the Oscars." She is certainly experiencing a lot of success.

In addition to a bubblegum persona, Lee - who got her big break during a graduation trip to Hong Kong, consequently signing with Sony Music Taiwan - has a voice with soul.

Her songs have been on the soundtracks for high-profile movies such as "Runaway Bride" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Disney hired her to do the Chinese voice-over for the animated movie "Mulan." And to top it all off, Chanel named her the company's first Asian spokesmodel.

In the typically frenetic style of Hong Kong and Taiwan, Lee has released more than 15 albums since 1994, and is poised to be the biggest Asian pop star on both sides of the Pacific.

Her first international release, "Just No Other Way," in English, came out early last year. Expectations were high, but the reception was tepid. According to the Asian edition of Time magazine, industry types believe Lee still has a fighting chance.

The songs on "Promise" are in Chinese once more, and they are mostly ballads. The album lacks the sensual drive of some of her earlier releases, but has a happy and sometimes nostalgic rhythm and blues sound.

Put the two together, and you have a good overview of her capabilities.

According to Sony Music Korea, discussions are under way for her to perform here at the end of the year or the beginning of next year.

For those who are ready for her now, in the words of the album's first song, "So Crazy," "Ladies and funky gentlemen, this is the Coco Lee track. Check it out."

by Joe Yong-hee

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