Star, rein­vented

Jay Chou shows fans a dif­fer­ent side to his mu­sic with new al­bum

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at chen­[email protected]­

It’s chaos. A door­man has his hand on the han­dle of a closed door be­hind which peo­ple are wait­ing anx­iously. The crowds out­side stare at the door hop­ing to get a glimpse of what is hap­pen­ing in­side.

As the mu­sic gets louder, peo­ple, both in­side and out­side the room, start scream­ing.

This is what hap­pens when Man­darin pop’s big star Jay Chou makes an ap­pear­ance.

On July 11, the Tai­wan singer-song­writer was at a fives­tar ho­tel in Beijing to re­lease Jay Chou’s Bed­time Sto­ries, his 14th Man­darin al­bum, and to mark his 15th year in show busi­ness.

Over that time, with his mixed style of R& B, love bal­lads and rap, which of­ten saw him in­clude classical mu­sic and tra­di­tional Chi­nese in­stru­ments in his work, Chou has rev­o­lu­tion­ized the mu­sic busi­ness in ways not even he could have fore­seen, and he has heav­ily in­flu­enced a gen­er­a­tion of mu­si­cians. With Jay Chou’s Bed­time

Sto­ries, the 37-year-old shows a dif­fer­ent side of his mu­sic, which is hu­mor­ous.

“I’ve writ­ten a lot of so­phis­ti­cated stuff in the past, but now I rarely write such songs or songs deal­ing with heavy is­sues,” says Chou.

He say she owes this change to his daugh­ter, Hath­away.

Mar­ried to model Han­nah Quin­li­van two years ago, Chou wel­comed their first child in June 2015. “My daugh­ter in­spired me to do this al­bum. I like put­ting her to sleep. I of­ten play my songs for her be­fore she falls asleep, which works even bet­ter than read­ing her a bed­time story,” says Chou.

The open­ing song of the al­bum, which is ti­tled Bed­time Sto­ries, is not as sooth­ing and slow as peo­ple might ex­pect.

Work­ing with his long­time friend, lyri­cist Vin­cent Fang, the song has fast rap­ping and dark hu­mor.

To mark his daugh­ter’s first birth­day in June, Chou ded­i­cated a song, Lover From a

Pre­vi­ous Life, to his daugh­ter, in which he uses some sounds his daugh­ter made on her toy pi­ano.

“When my wife showed me a video of our daugh­ter play­ing with the pi­ano, I was taken in by some of the sounds,” says Chou.

“She may not be a mu­si­cian when she grows up. But I will give her a pink pi­ano some­day, and I hope that mu­sic will play an im­por­tant part in her life.”

Fa­ther­hood has also made him much more re­laxed than be­fore, says Chou. The life changes have also in­flu­enced his songs.

“In the past, I wrote songs just to en­ter­tain or ex­press my­self. But now, I want to write songs for my fans. When I lis­ten to them singing my love bal­lads at con­certs, I am touched,” he says, re­fer­ring to songs in the new al­bum, such as Con­fess­ing Bal­lon and Shouldn’t Be, which he ded­i­cated to his fans.

In 2014, when Chou re­leased his 13th al­bum,

Aiyo, Not Bad, he be­came the first singer-song­writer in China to work with QQ Mu­sic, the mu­sic stream­ing ser­vice of in­ter­net gi­ant Ten­cent, which re­leased his al­bum on­line.

The al­bum sold 150,000 copies and started the trend of sell­ing dig­i­tal mu­sic in the coun­try. Jay Chou’s Bed­time Sto­ries sold 1 mil­lion copies in less than 36 hours, with each copy sell­ing at 20 yuan ($3), ac­cord­ing to Cus­sion Pang, vice-pres­i­dent of Ten­cent.

“So far, Jay Chou has sold al­bums via QQ Mu­sic worth 30 mil­lion yuan. He has started an era, not just with his mu­si­cal style, but also in the way mu­sic is sold,” says Pang in Beijing.

Chou was raised in Linkou, Tai­wan, by his mother, a school­teacher who divorced his fa­ther when he was lit­tle.

Chou, a clas­si­cally trained pi­anist who con­sid­ers Chopin and Bruce Lee as his idols, got his break when he was spot­ted by Tai­wan TV host Jacky Wu, who asked Chou to join his then-record com­pany, Alfa Mu­sic, as a com­poser in 1998.

The shy mu­si­cian didn’t want to be a singer at first, but wanted to fo­cus on writ­ing songs for other peo­ple.

In 2000, Chou re­leased his de­but al­bum, ti­tled Jay , in which he recorded a col­lec­tion of songs that he had writ­ten for other singers.

“They didn’t want them be­cause they were not con­sid­ered main­stream pop ma­te­rial. So I made the al­bum my­self,” Chou said in an ear­lier in­ter­view.

The al­bum, which con­tained R& B tunes like Adorable Lady and Starry Mood, soon earned him idol sta­tus across Asia.

Even his un­clear singing and rap­ping style, which is con­sid­ered “mum­bling”, is now imi­tated by his fans. His sub­se­quent al­bums,

Fantasy and Novem­ber’s Chopin, fur­ther built up his fan base in Asia.

Chou has also ven­tured into act­ing and di­rect­ing. His di­rec­to­rial de­but was

Se­cret in 2007, which was fol­lowed by a mu­si­cal drama,

The Rooftop, in 2013.

Play­ing the role of Kato along­side Seth Ro­gen in Green Hor­net gave Chou his first big Hol­ly­wood break in 2011. This year, he starred with Daniel Rad­cliffe in Now You See Me 2.

“My con­fi­dence still comes from my mu­sic, which is quite dif­fer­ent from Western hip-hop or R& B,” says Chou, who wrote and sang the song, Now You See Me, for the se­quel. The song is also part of Jay Chou’s Bed­time Sto­ries.

“When I sat in the cinema at the movie’s pre­miere in the United States, I felt so proud that my song, a Chi­nese one, fea­tured at the end of the movie. That’s my goal, to take Man­darin songs abroad. It is so cool,” he says.


Jay Chou (cen­ter) at a Beijing event to pro­mote his lat­est Man­darin al­bum, Jay Chou’s Bed­time Sto­ries.

Singer-song­writer Chou has be­come one of the big­gest stars in Asia since his de­but al­bum in 2000.

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