About a month ago, my 18 yr old cousin Yimei made a throwaway comment that raised my eyebrows. We were casually talking about pop singers, and I can’t remember who I was asking about. I asked her if such and such a singer was as good as or better than Jay Chou. She replied, “Of course NOONE is as talented as Jay Chou.”
I didn’t really take her too seriously then. Of course I’ve heard about the Chou Mania… å‘¨è‘£ is so idolized that even I have heard of him. But what’s so great about him, I used to wonder. Certainly I don’t like his songs much. èŠèŠ±å° is the one exception which I can really appreciate. Not only is the melody composition unique and elegant, I can actually understand him in that song! Neither is Jay handsome in an industry filled with pretty faces and buff bodies. But after learning more about him, I’ve developed my own theory as to his charm.
1. Who doesn’t love the underdog?
Pegged as stupid by his teachers, Jay was the ultimate academic underachiever who excelled in no subject. Neither did he try. He was well on track to be an ordinary man (possibly school drop-out?) struggling to make ends meet. When his musical talent was discovered serendipitously by Jacky Wu, there was no thought of making him a singer… why? Because he was too plain-looking. So he was hidden away for a couple of years as a song writer, learning and observing from behind the scenes as to which songs worked and which didn’t. In the end when he emerged from the shadows, he became adored not for his voice, looks, personality or slick moves. He was loved for the music he composed.
2. Who doesn’t love talent?
Jay’s music doesn’t really suit my personal taste, but after trawling through many of his tunes, I’m amazed by his versatility and daring. His classical training and proficiency in several instruments have been much documented. But listening to his songs, one really gets a glimpse into how creative and gifted he is in creating music from all kinds of influences and sounds. An example in mind would be the theme song for the film éœå…ƒç”². Talk about mixing classical (Beijing opera) with modern (rock/rap)! Again, that song doesn’t suit my liking, but I’m very impressed.
Of course, this guy is also his own music director and has also been directing his own MVs since 2006. Some of his works are very interesting. Check out éœå…ƒç”² (I love the way the dance sequence with the fan is filmed near the end) and ç‰›ä»”å¾ˆå¿™ (Cheesy! ha ha… but I thought it was well done.) He has also tried his hand in directing a film ï¼ˆã€Šä¸èƒ½è¯´çš„ç§˜å¯†ã€‹ï¼‰ and acting as well. Talk about being multi-talented!
3. Who doesn’t love someone who marches to his own beat?
Jay was the child of a broken marriage and grew up to be a very introverted and aloof person. By his own admission he doesn’t like to reveal himself to others. Outside of his music, and perhaps basketball, he has little confidence. But when it comes to his music, there is perhaps no other current pop artist as confident as Jay because he knows his songs from the inside out. He doesn’t just sing. He dreams, writes, arranges, directs and lives his music. He doesn’t care about what the industry standards are or what other artistes are doing, he marches to his own beat with deep integrity to his music. That kind of boldness and daring is undeniably very admirable.
4. Why I like Jay Chou.
His pop idol status is bigger than life, but in many ways he is just an ordinary man with an extraordinary talent. I probably won’t ever become a Jay Chou fan, but already I am an admirer. You go, Jay! Hope you don’t get too lost in all the hype. And if you do, I hope that music will help you find your way back.
The one Jay Chou song I really like for both the enchanting classically-flavoured score (love the instruments!) and the poetic lyrics (æ–¹æ–‡å±± rocks!). For explanation/discussion of what the lyrics mean, you can visit this page.
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