Jay Chou: Invasion of the Chinese Pop-Star
Becoming one of the most well-known music stars in Asia is no small feat. But tougher still is having your music spread to a continent thousands of miles away. That is exactly what 26-year-old Taiwanese singing sensation Jay Chou (born Zhou Jie Lun) has done.
Chou first hit the music scene in late 2000 with his first CD, ‘Jay,’ under the recording company Alfa Music. He was discovered by former manager Jacky Wu while playing the piano for a friend at a singing contest. His catchy tunes and meaningful lyrics instantly captured fans in Asia and made him the recipient of countless music achievement awards. Chou sings all types of genres, from pop to rap to rock and everything in between. He sings primarily in Mandarin, but he occasionally throws in snippets of Taiwanese in his songs as well. His unique singing style, made him one of a kind. He was one of the first Asian singers to really take an original direction with his singing. Chou sings about all sorts of topics that come to his mind and his innovative music videos reflect his creativity.
Perhaps the most enduring aspect of Chou is that he writes almost all of his own music and lyrics. He also plays four instruments; the piano, drums, guitar and cello.
Chou has produced five full original CDs so far (‘Jay,’ ‘Fantasy, ‘8 Dimensions,’ ‘Ye Hui Mei’ and ‘Orange Jasmine’) and is currently working on his sixth. With every CD, Chou has produced a fresh new sound, constantly striving to take his music to a yet higher level. As a result, Chou is one of the most popular music artists in Asia, his popularity reaching unprecedented heights.
A sign of just how influential Chou’s music has become is that Chou has become one of the first Asian music stars to become known to Asians and even some non-Asians in the United States. Chou has been one of the first to successfully cross over from Asia and transcend boundaries without ever singing in English. By word of mouth, many Asians in the United States have become aware of and, in many instances, become fans of Chou. He has even appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine.
To satisfy his fans here, Chou recently traveled to the States to perform his ‘Incomparable’ concert, the sequel to his first concert, ‘The One,’ which ended up being very well received. Chou’s popularity in the States has paved the way for fans here to learn about other music artists in Asia. Chou has shown that other talented music artists exist abroad. In effect, Chou has helped change the Asian-American music scene.
The impact of Chou is far-reaching to his fans.
‘Jay Chou is the first music star I’ve heard of from Asia,’ said first-year biological sciences major Evelyn Ho. ‘His talent in singing and songwriting made me a big fan of him. After learning about Chou, I became interested in other music artists from Asia too.’
Second-year cognitive psychology major Tiffany Cheng expressed a similar sentiment.
‘I think Jay is so big because he’s the first guy to really introduce a new style,’ Cheng said. ‘He’s one of the few Asians that does Chinese rap and he composes his own music. After listening to Jay, I started listening to more Chinese music. He introduced Chinese music to a lot of us American-born Chinese.’
Omar Lopez, a fourth-year social science major, doesn’t understand or speak Chinese but is still a fan of Chou.
‘[Chou is] really creative in his sounds and beats,’ Lopez said. ‘He’s just really good and I love his stuff. I don’t need to know the language in order to feel what he wants us to feel in his music.’
With plans to release a new CD every year, it’s clear that Chou will impact the music industry for years to come both in Asia as well as in the States.