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Bridging barriers through Jay's songs

Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou's songs are a hit with many. -TNP
Tan Kee Yun

Thu, Jul 19, 2012
The New Paper

There's no barrier too big when it comes to appreciating Jay Chou's music.

For Mr Ridhwan Azman and Mr Muhammad Afiq Juraimi, not knowing Mandarin hasn't lessened their love for the Taiwanese superstar's hit songs.

Mr Ridhwan, 19, a full-time singer and actor, and Mr Afiq, 23, a second-year business management undergraduate at the Singapore Institute of Management, are among a group of five performers from Intune Music School who have submitted their entries for LOUD's Cover Contest thismonth.

"Jay Chou is my role model," said Mr Ridhwan, who was a Top 12 finalist in Channel U's Campus Superstar reality TV singing competition in 2009.

"He's so versatile and adept at different genres of music. Plus, he's an all-round entertainer - not only does he sing and play the piano well, he's also a great actor."

The lanky dude, who is part of the ensemble cast in local director Jack Neo's new army-themed movie Ah Boys To Men, said music is universal in his eyes.

"For a long time, I've been listening to all kinds of songs, such as Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese," he said.

"Besides Jay Chou, I also like (Hong Kong dance pop trio) The Grasshoppers and (local singer-songwriter) JJ Lin."

Echoing his sentiments was Mr Afiq, who also professed to be an ardent fan of Chou.

His first contact with Chou's tunes nearly a decade ago stemmed from "practical" reasons.

He said with a laugh: "In secondary school, my friends and I would often go to karaoke. As many of them are Chinese, they'd select Chinese pop songs.

"After a while, I decided to learn some Chinese songs too, so that I could sing instead of wasting money."

At the music school's studio in Prinsep Place, Mr Ridhwan and Mr Afiq did heartfelt covers of Chou's sad ballads Silence and Said Goodbye respectively.

Said Mr Ridhwan: "Besides using hanyu pinyin to memorise the song, I also make it a point to find out the meaning of the lyrics so that I can emote better."

Added Mr Afiq: "I've taken part in a few singing competitions and I often get constructive criticism about my Mandarin diction.

"It's something I will work hard on."

Other Intune Music School performers also turned in commendable covers of Chou's songs.

Said MrEric Lim, 26, a primary school allied educator who came in tops in last year's Safra PK Challenge, a nationwide Mandarin singing competition organised by Safra club: "What I love about Jay's originals is that they're always filled with emotion.

Meaningful lyrics

"I can relate to what he's singing about."

Mr Loh Yuan Ming, 24, who works in logistics, agreed, saying: "I started listening to Jay's songs about eight years ago.

"He was the one who inspired me to learn the keyboard."

Mr Junior Tan, 23, a part-time kitchen helper, said it would be difficult to find a bigger Chou fan than him.

Said Mr Tan, who owns all of Chou's albums: "A few years ago, when he held his concert in Singapore, I didn't have money to buy concert tickets.

"But I went to queue at the concert venue all the same, so that I could buy his merchandise and posters."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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