Posts Tagged ‘Jay Chou


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…


Not-so-Struggling Musos making a mint in Taiwan

I saw an interesting article about the top entertainers in Taiwan and  a general breakdown of what their earnings are from -some still have substantial CD earnings, but I don’t know how accurate the figures are.

Jay Chou, who’s made no.1, is one of my favourite songwriters from Asia.

Note that it’s in Taiwan dollars, not USD -half a bill’s a pretty high amount.


Jay Chou’s Ju Hua Tai

When I lived in Taiwan locals would tell me about this hugely popular and talented RnB artist who wrote his own music and songs for others. In fact he had a reputation as a “pop genius”, but I wasn’t really into the Taiwanese “plastic” pop scene at the time, preferring great rock songwriters like Wubai and underground bands like The Chairman. It wasn’t until years after I left Taiwan, and I was in Sydney’s Chinatown that I decided to buy a CD from Jay Chou, and I really got into it. He is a great songwriter, though he often teams up with Vincent Fang for the lyrics (Chinese surname, no reference to sharp teeth)

One song I greatly admire is called “Ju Hua Tai” (Chrysanthemum Terrace) and I really admired the way it’s mixed. Firstly, it has great contrast between the rich chorus with strings and traditional Chinese instruments providing counter melodies while the verse is stripped bare to acoustic guitar and vocals. And it has just a great, sweet, balanced melody that makes you want to pick up an acoustic and learn it yourself. I also love the way it’s introduced with an instrumental chorus, then the first verse comes in with a kind of intimacy.