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