- His insistence on singing with slurred enunciation
- One of the 50 most influential figures in China
- Has sold over 25 million of his albums worldwide
- Reclusive and introverted
- The privacy war between him and paparazzi
- Idol: Jet Li
- Winner of worst actor prize in Hong Kong’s Razzies
- Own record company JVR Music
Yes, some of you might already come up with the answer; Jay Chou, one of the most well-known superstars in Asia.
If you are familiar with Jay Chou through the movie The Green Hornet, I offer you a better opportunity to fully recognise his talents. No offence to those who think Chou is just a good film director, producer or actor, but his music fascinated me the most. In fact, I am going to avoid addressing too much of the comments regarding his poor performances in the movies The Treasure Hunter and Kung Fu Dunk. I only would like to highlight Chou’s musical talents, taking Asia and the world by storm.
“Jet Li used kung fu to break into foreign markets, Hollywood. I hope my music can do the same thing.”(Chou never hides his admiration to Jet Li)
“Whoever spread the rumours probably hates me because I beat him at basketball.” (Chou’s response to clear some irresponsible news faked by one gossip magazine who trying to increase their sales).
It’s a well-known fact that Chou is a big fan of Jet Li and also a big hater towards paparazzo, especially when it comes to their invasion of his private life. From All Sides四面楚歌 is a great example of his dislike of paparazzo, where he makes a rant towards paparazzo in Taiwan. He and paparazzi are often in direct conflict with one another. Chou even bought his own camera to photograph anyone who follows him to taunt and discourage the behaviour of taking unsolicited pictures.
Growing up in a single-parent family made Chou a very quiet person, but it also becomes one of the elements that distinguish him and his music from others. One of his albums was named in honor of his mum, Ye Hui Mei (叶惠美). Songs such as Maternal grandmother and Listen to mother show how much of his life priorities are highly related to family value.
“I don’t think I’ll move out, my parents got divorced when I was a kid, and I made up my mind that even if I get married someday, I’ll still live with my mum. So that I can take care of her, keep her company. I’ve been having this thought for many years, no matter what happens in the future; I’ll live with my mum.” Chou once said in a Talk Asian interview.
“…No matter how much money you make outside, you still have to go home, because we have this duty, responsibility to take care of our parents. Perhaps there is some culture differences between Chinese and western people” Chou explained further.
Besides the influence of family in Chou’s music, I also have to mention Vincent Fang (方文山), who has played an essential role in building Chou’s music empire. More than half of the lyrics in all Chou’s albums are written by Fang, along with more than a dozen awards in Asia for Fang’s lyrical compositions. It is an unexpected spark between Fang’s well educated knowledge of classical Chinese culture and Chou’s “mumble” R&B, Rap and Pop, as well known as the term “Chou Style”.
“In what has become the archetypal Chou style, Taiwan’s favourite son blends pop, rap, blues and a smorgasbord of aesthetic elements of world music to create his dream-like never-never land” Taipei Times once defined the “Chou style”
Their consummate cooperation brings surprising chemistry to the Asian music industry. The artistic and historical conception song Blue and White Porcelain (青花瓷) is a song, Fang wrote for Chou, and has won the best Lyricist at 19th Golden Melody Awards.
Fireworks Cool Easily(烟花易冷) is inspired from one ancient Buddhism allusions
Fang once talked about his inspiration
“I have a natural passion for traditional culture, which is totally reflected in my works. I love having a consistent artistic feature. So I set a time background or a typical image every time I write something, like a blue ceramic piece, a rainy spring, a wooden bridge above a flowing river, or the anthology of the Orchid Pavilion.”
Chinese people believe there is a predetermined principle called Yuanfen (缘分) that “dictates a person’s relationships and encounters, it has a binding force that links two persons together”.
Maybe it wasn’t only about thanking the others who believed in Chou’s talent, like Fang, not even those singers who rejected his songs, because that served as an avenue to launch his career.