I've almost always been partial to a man who plays the piano well.(of course, there are exceptions...)
But when Kato (Jay Chou) serenaded Lenore in The Green Hornet with a Liszt etude, that was the knockout blow which convinced me to check him out post-movie pronto.
And what a Pandora's Box of music that led me to!
Reading about Jay's history and his humble beginnings in the Mandopop industry fascinated me and it was not long before I was trawling HMV and Gramophone for his albums and concert DVDs. I had to make out a list of his discography to go shopping with, as I was not really that fluent in Mandarin then. Slowly but surely, my collection grew as I also acquired those which were not available in the stores from YesAsia, the online site for Asian music.
As the albums accumulated, I of course was having a great time listening to his songs, but in no particular order as it all depended on what I had managed to get. I would rip the songs into my laptop to burn into separate CDs (which were then played in the car) and also downloaded into my little Walkman to listen to whenever I had spare time eg during lunchtime or whilst running.
Why did I have to burn separate CDs?
Well...it was to keep the originals in pristine condition, naturally....CDs may sometimes get stuck in the car CD player...right?? ;)
The most important thing about Jay's music is precisely that....the MUSIC.
The melodies, chords, background accompaniments and overall feel of the songs.
Not the lyrics so even if you cannot make out what he's singing, it's okay.
Just enjoy the music!
Jay is known for his relaxed enunciation whilst singing although I'd have to say that I did not really notice that he was not singing that clearly. Being a novice Mandopop listener, it was enough for me that I was even listening to the music, let alone bother about the words!
Perhaps having musical training on my part was also why his music made an impression on me as I was also getting hold of whatever piano score books of his songs which I could find and playing them ad nauseum.
It's safe to say that I've been pretty much obsessed for about a year with his albums, the studio ones as well as the EPs and concert DVDs...and actually, I still am but I've made the effort to include other artistes in my playlists as well...eg JJ Lin (he's good too!), Mayday and Hu Xia.
Jay has also written well over 130 songs for OTHER artistes over the past 14 years.
Which means combined with his own eleven studio albums (say with about 10 to 11 songs each) and various other works eg Secret, that is easily nearly 300 compositions...impressive or not??
The mind boggles!
Here is his discography as compiled by the wonderful Kelvin on Jay Chou Studio:
This is a list of his compositions for other artistes:
This is a list of the multiple MULTIPLE awards he has won (his house is probably overflowing with them which is why he displays some of them in his restaurants...lol!):
And here is the list of whatever songs he composed for other artistes which I could find on youtube:
Still not impressed??
A little note about the title of this blog is due here:
DIAO (屌) is a term which Jay popularised and I'll let him explain in his own words, taken from the TIME Asia issue which featured him as the cover story in July 2003:
Finally, he leans in close: "Let me tell you about diao."
Diao is a Taiwanese slang usually translated as "cool" or "outrageous." It literally means "penis."
"It's my personal philosophy," he explains, "but it has nothing to do with religion. It means that whatever you do, you don't try to follow others. Go your own way, you know?"
He sits back, shakes his hair out of his eyes and nods. This is serious. This is deep. This is the metaphysical mechanism that he feels explains his pop stardom, as opposed to his musical talent. "It's like, the ability to shock. The way I think of shocking people is to do things that people don't expect in my music, in my performances. Like during my first Taipei show last year, I was performing Long Quan (Dragon Fist) [Chou's favorite tune from his Eight Dimensions CD] and I took off on a harness and flew out over the audience. That was diao."
And from my other blog, this is why I love this guy:
In future posts, I will touch on his background and how he got his start in the cutthroat showbiz industry, even though his first boss, Jacky Wu (an entertainment impressario in Taiwan) felt he was just not handsome enough to be a pop star and simply relegated him to songwriting duties.
It would take a savvy manager by the name of Yang Junrong to recognise Jay's potential and propel him into the big time, whilst shaking up the Mandopop scene in a way no one had ever done before. :))