Taiwanese not-so-indie: Jay Chou.

When I was in Taiwan in the early 2000’s I was a dedicated rock fan searching out the local indie bands (like the Chairman, Tizzy Bac, etc…) and I generally pooh-poohed the Taiwanese pop scene. I especially found the girl bands like S.H.E. and the young rapping upstarts particularly nauseating. I’d also heard of a hip-hop genius songwriter called Jay Chou but I generally turned my nose up at the tought of such ‘commercial pulp’. (You may have heard of Jay Chou from his role in the film ‘The Green Hornet’.

Fast-forward a few years later back in Australia and I had a bit of a ‘bored-with-rocknroll’ crisis, so I bought a couple of Jay Chou albums down at the local Chinatown. Since then I’ve come to appreciate his songwriting and production skills (in partnership with lyric-spinner Vincent Fang). With a background in classical music, he’s managed to fuse this with hip-hop and pop as well as create well-crafted love ballads. Furthermore he’s been known to add traditional Chinese instruments to the modern pop mix.

He’s also hardworking having produced 11 albums in 12 years and generally sticks to the same variety of songs each album -a few hip-hop tracks, a couple of love ballads, a parody/humorous song or two and maybe a pop-rock number. He’s latest effort is no exception, which I also picked up in Taiwan when I was there. However, the marketing of the album with it’s bubble-gum cartoon sailor theme is a little bit of a turn off for me.

So yes, I have indulged in some Taiwanese pop as a guilty pleasure, but don’t worry, the next album I’ll share about (that I found digging in second-hand stores in Taipei) is a Chairman album…


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