Thursday, 17 May 2012

Yang Jun Rong: The Manager with the Most-est

Background instrumentals and vocals, music arrangement, sound mixing, recording and more...all these processes go into the production of a single track on a CD.
With the amount of time Jay was spending in the studio, it was inevitable that he would explore and absorb all that went on there and thus lead him to experiment on his compositions for himself. It was specifically one such song which marked a milestone and got him finally noticed as a singer as well as a songwriter.

This is Yang Jun Rong (JR), whom Jay addresses as 荣哥 (Rong Ge) or Brother Rong. After Jacky Wu, he is the next most important person we have to thank for giving us the King of Mandopop we have today.

JR was then a manager in Alfa Music with experience of having been a singer previously.
One fine day, he casually asked Jay if he had written and recorded any songs for himself. To which Jay replied in the affirmative and proceeded to play a track entitled Loveable Woman (可爱女人ke ai nu ren).
JR was struck by the fresh and unique feel of the song and after clarifying with Jay that he had indeed composed and arranged everything on his own, he immediately got on the phone to Jacky to alert him to his new find. Without further ado, he made plans for Jay to record an album of his own songs....and the rest, as they say, is history.

Jay's first album, simply entitled JAY, was released on 6 November 2000 to an unexpectedly warm reception from the public, not just in Taiwan but other Asian countries like Hongkong, China, Malaysia and Singapore too. It was like no other Mandopop music at that time and fans who knew him from then will testify to that.
He quickly followed up with a second album, Fantasy, which was the big one that propelled him to stratospheric heights...where he would stay for many years thereafter.

Here is the MV of Lovable Woman ,(可愛女人) (ke ai nü ren) which is also the first track on JAY. It is such a beautifully soothing song that I'm not at all surprised that JR felt like he had struck gold when he first heard it in that recording studio!
Listen to it without watching the MV first.
With lyrics by Vivian Hsu (the lady in the MV), this is, arguably, one of Jay's best R&B songs ever, with all his trademarks: simple yet catchy melody, and with a certain richness in the background music and vocals.
And the way he croons and scats in that voice which is ever so distinctive....why did he ever think he could not sing??
Listen out too for the "WOO!" at the very start of the song....that's another Jay trademark.

 Wasn't that just lovely??

Anyway, the marketing people at Alfa were unsure how to promote Jay, what with his parents being divorced and his non-tertiary educational level.
But JR (bless his think-out-of-the-box mentality!) saw these, conversely, as strong points for Jay and told them:
Lay it all out on the table. Tell everyone about his background but emphasise that all that is inconsequential. What is really important is that he has this amazing music and that is all that matters.
And it worked!
In the vid below, watch from about 2:15 animatedly JR describes the scenario back then:

There would be no looking back for Jay Chou from that point on. :)
NB: Those of you who would like to view the other vids in the compilation where that clip came from, please go here:

Here is the album and its description/ tracklist, taken from Jay Chou Studio, with thanks!

Jay Album (杰倫專輯) (jie lun zhuan ji)

Jay Album is the groundbreaking debut album from the talented writer Jay Chou. Featuring a fresh r&b style and wonderful lyrics from Vincent Fang, Vivian Hsu and Jay himself. All the tracks on the album are composed by Jay. The first track Lovable Woman features the lovely Vivian Hsu in the music video. Every track has a music video except for track 8, although there is a KTV which was not made by Jay.

1.Lovable Woman (可愛女人) (ke ai nü ren)

2.Perfectionism (完美主義) (wan mei zhu yi)
3.Clear Stars (星晴) (xing qing)
4.Wife (娘子) (niang zi)
5.Bullfight (鬥牛) (dou niu)
6.Black Humour (黑色幽默) (hei se you mo)
7.Istanbul (伊斯坦堡) (yi si tan bao)
8.Old Indian Turtledove (印地安老斑鳩) (yin di an lao ban jiu)
9.Tornado (龍捲風) (long juan feng)
10.Clock That Goes Backwards (反方向的鐘) (fan fang xiang de zhong)

Playlist of vids from this album from the JVR Music youtube channel:

As for JR, he remained a steady presence in Jay's rise to stardom, guiding him as he cut more albums and set out on the concert circuit. He eventually left Alfa Music but would soon reunite with Jay and Vincent to set up JVR Music in 2007.

More on that in another post. :)

To conclude:
Here's the link to a July 2003 TIME feature on Jay who, at age 24, was accorded a rare honour of being on the cover, joining such Asian luminaries as A-Mei and Faye Wong.
Jay was actually very surprised to be so privileged!

It's a very well-written feature as the journalist, Kate Drake spent a few days interviewing Jay and other people associated with him. She also shared his interest in basketball so even without being able to speak much English, Jay felt very comfortable talking to her via an interpreter.
According to Jay, she gleaned a wealth of information about him from his friends and teachers, some of which was new to him, especially regarding how he was perceived and he was glad most of it was quite complimentary. :),9171,425958,00.html

Here is a link to the scans of the feature in the magazine:


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